Rhonda Roorda

Celebrate Adoption in Ohio is hosting Rhonda Roorda Saturday, February 4, 2012 in a workshop entitled “The Best of Transracial Adoption: The Long-Term and Inclusive Vision.” Ms. Roorda is an adult adoptee who has authored books on transracial adoption, including In Their Siblings’ Voices: White Non-Adopted Siblings Talk About Their Experiences Living with Black and Biracial Brothers and Sisters. And, as I cannot attend, I’m encouraging those of you in the greater Cincinnati area to go! It was in listening to the event promo, that I heard these words from Rhonda Roorda,

…white non-adopted siblings they feel at times that they weren’t prepared. While they didn’t ask for transracial adoption in many cases, they have none the less been shaped by it and they will have to take on a responsibility lifelong because they now have a sibling of color. And so they’re saying, ‘We aren’t prepared… we don’t know the language on how to defend our siblings and we love them.’

It reminded me that we as Blended families must prepare each of our children to not only know their own ethnic identity, but also give them language and understanding to talk about their sibling’s ethnic identity too. Its double duty for our kids.

I have been pondering this as I look into the very near future as my middle child enters kindergarten. Both of my girls will be at the same school for the first time and will have to undoubtedly face the “that can’t be your sister because you don’t look alike” comments and attitudes. They really have never been down this road to the extent that they will face it in the fall. We have had situations in public places in which strangers try to separate my oldest daughter from us and include her with an African-American family or Asian family; but those were strangers in isolated situations. We have also endured the new teacher/school situations in which others are surprised that I’m the mother as their faces try to hide how hard their brains are working to figure out how we possibly fit together. But the fall will be different – especially for my youngest daughter as she will have to explain on her own, perhaps for the first time, how her family fits together, who she is, who her sister is, and what defines our family. She will have to learn how to tell her story, which includes her sisters identity, in a way that is her own.

If you asked her now you would hear snippets of her story all jumbled together because of the normalcy of her family and the oddness of your question. The question itself would be weird – not her family. But that will soon be challenged as she enters school, and no I’m not a pessimist but a realist who has seen one child go down this road already. So, I must prepare her more and more for that day. I must give her the ‘language’ to defend herself, her sister, her family, in a way that is healthy and loving to both speaker and listener. Double duty here we come.

You can find more information about Celebrate Adoption including how to register for the Roorda event here.