It’s the opposite of our unfailing romantic, mama told me so, Hollywood movie notion of life. The idea that love is not enough in anything will shake us a bit. I suppose it’s a cultural notion stemming from the ‘love conquers all’ delirium. Not that I don’t still hold fast to that notion at times – but I know that in some ways love just can’t conquer everything.
I first heard the words “love in not enough” from my social worker during an interview in the adoption process. To be honest I thought that she (now a dear and trusted mentor and friend) was a bit deceived, even jaded by the process. She referred us to this article, which she again recently reminded me of, as a great resource to this idea of love not being enough in transracial adoption. Basically it’s the idea that as a white parent of a multiethnic child there are some hurdles relating to race and ethnicity that I cannot simply love her through. And because of this, it may set her back in developing a healthy racial identity. It took me some time to digest what she was saying during that interview, but eventually I understood that in order for my child to gain a healthy and whole image of herself, love (how I understood it then), would not be enough.
As a white parent of a multiracial child it was and is my responsibility to connect her with peers and adults of color who can provide mentorship and affirmation for her journey in life. When she encounters difficult moments because of her ethnicity, instead of ‘loving’ her alone through these moments, I needed someone near and dear to help me love her by understanding more deeply the ways she would be hurt, or struggle. Her experience in life, because of her ethnicity, will be vastly different than my own. Looking back, because the idea was planted in me at the beginning of the adoption process, I had time to consider how our family would strive to offer our child these invaluable resources.
We committed ourselves to building a diverse friend network and to attend classes, social functions or a church where greater diversity was represented. This meant that just because something was convenient (close-by) didn’t mean it was best for our family.
When we moved recently we looked for an ethnically diverse neighborhood, a diverse school, a diverse church, and if we didn’t find it, we kept looking. In truth, it has become a family philosophy, and not just to serve our daughter alone, although it began that way. We are beneficiaries in a diverse community of friends and relationships. Those who look different, think different and have different experiences benefit our entire family. And while indispensible to my child’s understanding of herself, we have gained equally. My daughter has peers and adults who look like her and help her process questions and ideas of race and ethnicity; and I have friends to resource and process with as well. Yes, it took time to cultivate relationships, but the words ‘love is not enough’ were vital in motivating our family to seek out and be intentional for the sake of my daughter. And while I believe a handful of words changed my life forever, when I get right down to it, I wind up back where I started -love. Although today it’s a bigger, more mindful, intentional love.