- Posted June 6, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your modern family
Non-traditional among the non-traditional
We could write the book on how to be non-traditional without even trying. We are an inter-racial, international adoptive family with children from two different birth countries. We're an anomaly among international adoptive families because we all have similar physical characteristics. If a person is observant, the differences are easily detected, but we've been asked if our children are twins. This translates to, "all you (fill in the blank) look alike". On the other hand, we've been asked if our children are "real" siblings. Yes, they are, and we are their real parents.
We home schooled for seven years, not because of ideological beliefs, but because we felt that it was the best for our family at that time. My husband was the teacher, while I have been the primary income earner. When they attended home school P.E. offered at the community recreation center, he was the only dad among the parents.This aspect of our life resulted from the telecom crash and later health issues. In earlier years, my husband worked full time, and I worked part time. Circumstances changed, so we made changes that best suited our family.
The great benefit of home schooling is flexibility. We took trips to Washington DC in October and Boston on Patriots' Day, which would have been impossible in the public school calendar. What museum field trip could be better than going to the Smithsonian? How better to study the American Revolution than walking the Freedom Trail and witnessing the reenactments of the battles of Lexington and Concord? When our daughter reached ninth grade, she wanted to enroll in public high school. She has been successful and will graduate next week. Our son chose to remain home schooled. Both are well adjusted, kind, and thoughtful young adults.
I'm not breaking ground in a new career market for women; I'm a registered nurse. For most of my children's' lives I worked the night shift, which changes the lifestyle of the entire household. Daddy was the one who tucked the children in at night after they called me to say goodnight. We adjusted holidays to be able to celebrate around my work schedule. When it was my turn to work Christmas Eve, I asked Santa if he could make a special early delivery. He said yes, and our children were thrilled to get their presents one day sooner. So, there is a benefit to having a mother who works the night shift on holidays.I love my work as a nurse and I'm thankful for the secure living it has provided for my family.
We chose to live in the Dallas metroplex because of the quality of life and the diverse population. At times the pastoral country life appeared desirable, but we had concerns about the acceptance of our family in a less diverse setting.
Although we have not experienced discrimination, we have been asked many questions about adoption, our decision to adopt internationally, our fertility history, and questions about our children's histories. Our answers depend on the sincerity of the individual asking the question. We give answers that are more general about the adoption process and what influenced our decisions. We do not share details about our children's birth histories. As a neonatal nurse and an adoptive mother, I've observed that most of society does not regard babies and children as individuals deserving privacy.
Because my mother is from Central America, and I grew up an Army Brat among families of all ethnic backgrounds, and because my husband traveled the world in the Navy, international adoption seemed perfectly natural to us. I have a standard line that there are many forms of adoption, and a family should choose the form that best suits them. Something that always makes me cringe is when someone comments how "lucky" our children are. I will correct the person by stating that parents and families are the ones blessed by the child they adopt.
This leads to my main point: do not question why a family is formed the way it is, and do not pass judgement. There are many families who are not mono-racial, heterosexual, couples with children spontaneously born to them. Unless the children are in danger, the best thing society can do is simply accept the family with the belief that however they came together was best for THEM. The decisions they make in raising their children are what is best for THEM. If a child does not resemble the physical appearance of the parent, don't ask why. Be happy that a child is loved.
A story that still tickles me is shortly after we arrived home with our Ecuadorean born son, we took a night time walk with a group of friends and my parents through a neighborhood that is known for its fantastic holiday lights. One friend, a bi-racial South African married to a Caucasian American, noticed how enthusiastic my father was about our son's reaction to the light displays. She said, "your mother's husband is sure excited about your son." I paused and thought, "huh?" Then I realized that she did not recognize my family's "normal": my mother's dark hair and brown eyes were dominant over my father's red hair and blue eyes, so my coloring looks nothing like him, but he is my birth father. Even in a diverse group, one person cannot always discern another person's ethnic/ racial background. Accept the person, and the family as they are.