Perhaps the greatest tenet of family is that you belong somewhere. I was reminded of this yesterday as I sat in my hair stylist’s chair and eavesdropped on the conversation beside me. The woman was describing her Caucasian suburban family in detail. Her parents, both with dark brown hair and brown eyes; and herself and her sibling as blond and blue eyed. She then exclaimed, “It was always so weird – like we were adopted!” And because I am used to the flippancy of which statements like these are thrown around, instead of being offended, I began to think what she actually meant. My translation would read something like this, “With parents who looked different than my brother and I, we never looked like we belonged to them.”
What she actually described was the sentiment that many Blended families, and Multiracial Blended families in particular, feel in every circumstance, every day. When family members do not share the same skin color, hair texture, or eye shape, there is an outside interpretation that they ‘don’t belong’ together.
Gratefully, belonging is not skin deep. What Blended families are showing the world is a new way of belonging that transcends common stereotype and succeeds with deep, life giving bonds. Belonging is found deeper, in shared affection, experiences, trust, and love. It has a way of binding people together whether they ‘look’ like one another or not. Looking like one another actually plays a small role, in my opinion, on whether or not you feel like you belong in a family. Being known, understood, and even celebrated for who you are, even when that’s different, plays a greater part in belonging.
So a word of caution today – don’t throw around adoption as a word with negative connotations – and a word of hope – Blended families offer a great model of true belonging.