Posted in C-Haze

DNA, Ancestry and Native Americans

I recently did one of those Ancestry DNA kits. It took me a really long time to get up the nerve to do it. I am very comfortable in my skin as a bi-racial woman, but it was a rough road getting here. Adopted as a kid, I was told at varying times that yes, I was mixed, but no one was 100% what I was mixed with. My biological mother named a black man as my father on my birth certificate, but it was anybody’s guess whether or not he was actually the father.

My (very limited) non-identifiable adoption records stated that my biological mother is white; biological father mixed with black and Native American.

Every time I looked in the mirror, I could see the Native American shine through, but not much else. I always had this secret fear that the man named as my father isn’t really him, and that as a result, I probably didn’t truly know what race I am. I worried that if I ever did get a DNA test done, it would come back showing me as something I had never identified as- like Middle Eastern- and that all the work I’d done as a child and as an adult to embrace my blackness would be for nothing.

Well, I finally did it.

The biggest surprise is that I am not Native American. At all. 0.00% Native American. I am more than 70% white – meaning my mother is white, and my father has at least some white in him as well. I’m 20-something percent African, which is awesome. This means all the work I did to get comfortable, to love and embrace the black woman in me wasn’t for nothing.

I was a little disappointed to see that I don’t have anywhere near the amount of African ancestry as I’d always believed, but was relieved that nothing I’d never even considered part of my heritage – like Middle Eastern or Italian – wasn’t predominant.

My ancestors – both white and black – showed up in Eastern North Carolina back in the 1700s. My people have been here for hundreds of years, which explains my unbelievable attachment – it’s in my soul – to this area of the country. All of the years I didn’t live here, I knew I would eventually come back.

Last year I did just that.

Feels even more appropriate than it did before, somehow.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, News, Politics, Race, Religion, Single Mom

What’s So Wrong With Adam and Steve?

What in the world is a “traditional couple” anyway?

I found myself wondering about this today as I read an article in which John McCain was asked if children should only be adopted by “traditional couples”.

He, of course, answered in the affirmative.

Not surprisingly, he thinks it’s wrong that gay people are allowed to adopt.

That got me thinking…

Perhaps he’d rather see children adopted by this woman?

Judith Leeken fell into the category of “traditional”- at least by McCain’s definition. She was also just sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to 11 counts- one count for each child- of adoption fraud in New York.

Seems Ms. Leeken adopted multiple children with various disabilities.

She, however, didn’t adopt these children out of love or compassion… she merely adopted them because they each came with a handsome monthly check from the state.

By the time the law caught up with her she had taken over a million dollars in state funding, though her children saw no benefit from that money. They were forced to sleep on a concrete floor in a room adjacent to the garage. They weren’t allowed to enter her home… and if they did, they suffered horrible consequences.

She’s a monster, and she has ruined the lives of 11 precious children.

In contrast we have David and Ralph– life partners in California.

Obviously they are gay.

David and Ralph chose to adopt three children- Summer, Brittany and Martin, all natural siblings.

The state had been having a tough time placing these beautiful little ones, as it isn’t easy to place three kids within the same home.

While certainly admitting that it would be a challenge, David and Ralph adopted all three… thus creating a wonderful and diverse family unit.

The children enjoy such activities as gymnastics, karate, swimming and soccer.

They have two parents that love them- and each other- unconditionally.

In short, they are thriving.

In this day in age, “traditional” is a word that is definitely up for interpretation, as it no longer exists- at least not in the “Leave it to Beaver” sense from 50-plus years ago.

Divorce rates hover around 60%… single parents are everywhere, as are multi-racial and extended families.

Step-parents are common- as are step-children- and families are now more diverse than they have been in the past.

Children need stability, consistency and love.

That’s all.

Families are more diverse than ever and the “traditional” set-up is becoming less and less the norm.

This is not a bad thing.

I’ll put my money on Ralph and David’s kids and their future success- as a couple and as a family unit- over Ms. Leeken’s abusive world any day.

Are all straight parents evil? Of course not.

I’m one of them, after all.

Gay parents aren’t evil either- at least not by virtue of their sexuality.

Personally speaking, I am a product of our foster system. I was a ward of the state for the first six years of my life and can atest- firsthand, no less- that simply because a family unit falls under the heading of “traditional” does not make them good or nurturing people.

Denying children a loving home- even if that home may be headed by two people of the same sex- is ridiculous.

Love is love, and children are children.

It’s simple, really.

Why not open our minds a little- and maybe take joy in seeing children thriving in loving environments, no matter what their parents’ sexual orientation.

People use the same argument today in denying gay couples the right to adopt as they used 40 years ago in denying children the chance to live in a multi-racial home.

“The children will be teased” is the prevailing thought.

So what?

Children are teased no matter what. I was teased because I’m bi-racial. Other classmates were teased for wearing glasses. Or being fat. Or being too thin. Or having freckles. Or wearing braces. The list is endless.

Kids all over the world are in desperate need of love and direction.

Two daddies- or two mommies- can provide for children just as well as a mommy and a daddy, or a mommy and a step-daddy, or a daddy and a step-mommy, or a single mom or a single dad.

At the end of our days, when we’re all waiting in line at the pearly gates… the last thing on God’s mind will be how we managed to acheive an orgasm while on earth.

He doesn’t give a damn whether we got off by ourselves… or whether we got off by being with a man or a woman.

He loves us no matter what.

He made us. He knows us. He understands us.

Anyone who can give unconditional acceptance to any of the millions of children who need it is cool with me.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, News, Politics, Race

White Folks, Minorities and Adoption

Now here’s an issue I can get excited about!

We’re talking about transracial adoptions. With me being the beautiful halfrican queen that I am, adopted and raised by a fabulous white family… this is right up my alley!

Currently there are more white families that are willing and able to adopt children than there are minority families willing and able to do the same. Statistically speaking, there are way more minority children needing homes than there are white children needing homes, and there simply are not enough minority homes available to place them in.

The question is, can white folks do a good job raising black kids?

Well, duh.

Of course they can… but can they raise their black children the same way they’re raising their white children and expect the same results?

Experts within the foster care system say no, and I agree 125%.

Previously foster and adoptive parents were encouraged to take a “color-blind” approach in raising these children, with the prevailing thought being that race is just a skin color, and that children- regardless of their ethnicity- will all benefit from the exact same upbringing.

Finally it appears that the state-run agencies have awaken from their dream-world and have started to face reality.

People can keep pretending that there is no difference between races, and that kids will be kids- regardless of their race- but the fact is, pretending doesn’t make reality any less real.

In many ways, kids, are definitely the same. Kids of all colors like to wake up early on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons while eating cereal laced with enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma. Kids of all races enjoy sports and other extra-curricular activities. All kids have that knack for breaking things- be it bones or antique lamps- and all kids cost a bizillion dollars by way of holidays, birthdays and trips to the emergency room. In addition, all kids need love, security, discipline, and a place to call home.

Really, there are lots of similarities… and in so many ways, kids will be… well, kids… regardless of their skin color.  

The problem is when people allow themselves to look solely at the similarities, and use that as an excuse to discount some very real- and important- differences.

Non-white kids are not different from white kids simply because of their skin color. What makes them different is our society.

Will that always be the case? Well hell, let’s hope not… but hoping a for future-society that makes no color distinction is one thing… pretending we’re already there is at best unrealistic, at worst reckless and irresponsible.

A white family can adopt a black kid (or hell, a mixed one like me), and have all the best of intentions… but the average middle-class white parents have not experienced the things that the average black kid will experience- be it in school, on the streets, among friends, or anywhere else.

Not saying white vs. black culture is better or worse than the other… just recognizing that based on today’s reality, these cultures are different.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing… I love the fact that we have so many different people and cultures and races hangin around in this country… I’m of the belief that diversity should be embraced. Those that try not to celebrate the differences found in others are cheating themselves.

Besides, who wants color-blind? Personally speaking, I was able to thrive in large part because I was raised by a family who celebrates all people.

I was fully embraced by my white family- with my Halfrican/Khaki-colored-caramel-tinted self.

Yea, I know, I’m gettin’ fancy… It’s fun to mix it up… no pun intended.

My family (thankfully) never tried to make me white like them… nor did they ever allow me to seperate myself from them.

It was more of a, “Yes, we have our differences- so let’s embrace them- but don’t get too carried away, cuz you’re not that different” kind of approach.

My parents actively set out to teach me to love myself… largely because I am different (well that and because I’m sexy-fine…).  

They didn’t know everything, but they knew enough. When I had questions they couldn’t answer, they were courageous enough to tell me they didn’t know… but that we’d find out together. 

Thankfully, they let me grow into me… even when that meant stepping aside and allowing me to figure it out on my own, because they just didn’t have a clue.

Part of that upbringing was helping me embrace the fact that I am a minority… that as a bi-racial woman I will face certain challenges that they never did.

My family aced it… and there was no shame as I was coming into the realization of who I am.

Had they ignored the fact that I am different, and raised me exactly as they raised my brothers and sister, I would have missed out.

How could I possibly be proud of who I am, my heritage, and my race had they pretended it didn’t exist, or swept it under the rug?

The message would have been clear, though subtle, and I believe I would be a very different person today.