+
upworthy
More

What I learned about family after adopting a child of a different race.

This story was originally published on The Mash-Up Americans.

Mash-Up adoptive families face challenges that others don’t.

Neither my white partner, Jill, nor I look like our black son, Shiv, or like each other. And this affects our family on a daily basis — at the grocery store, at Target, on a plane.


If you are considering or already have a transracial adoptive family, here is a compilation of lessons we’ve learned as we’ve made our way as partners, parents, and a family unit as a whole.

1. Check your assumptions.

When we first became Shiv’s parents, I was embarrassed I’d ever had reservations about the possibility of parenting a black child. Now that I am four years into parenting, I see those concerns as spot-on and important; it isn't nothing to parent a child of a different race or ethnic background. This is especially true for white parents of children of color, and we do our children an incredible disservice if we try and pretend that color isn’t a factor in daily life in America.

Becoming Shiv’s parent has pushed me to come to terms with my own prejudice and privilege and to humbly admit how much I didn’t know that I didn’t know about what it’s like to be black in America.

Things that have helped: reading more authors of color, past and present; following activists and authors on Twitter; diversifying my news media input; and paying particular attention to friends and acquaintances of color that I can learn from.

If you aren’t prepared to tackle your own bias and limitations — to admit that your lived experience may have left you with blind spots — then don’t apply to adopt or foster children of color. Or if you’re a person of color, a child from a different race or ethnicity than you. There is no shame in telling the truth. The real shame is when children are brought into families that aren’t prepared to support them in the ways they will need and deserve.

2. Research your adoption agency.

Not all agencies are created equal, and — in some cases — you get what you pay for. Always, always talk to transracial families who have worked with the agency before. If the agency doesn’t provide you with a list of references, that’s a warning sign.

Another warning sign are phrases like "Oh, children don’t see color!" or "Color doesn’t matter!" Any agency worth its salt should be staffed with social workers who can comfortably and knowledgeably discuss the issues transracial families face and can steer you toward resources both before and after the adoption takes place.

More than anything, trust your instincts. Our agency doesn’t have a fancy website, but they do have employees who care deeply about what they do and always treated us — and, even more importantly, the birth mother — like human beings.

Nishta Mehra, her son Shiv, and her partner Jill. Image courtesy of Nishta Mehra/The Mash-Up Americans.

3. Talk to other adoptive parents.

Talk to any adoptive parents, but especially reach out to adoptive parents who have kids of color, and a different color than them. Don’t be shy! Most of us are happy to share our experience and be adoption ambassadors. Once you’ve established a connection with adoptive parents, ask the questions that you really have — we’ve been there, we get it, and we can address your concerns.

I was recently asked by a prospective adoptive parent, "Then why do you always hear about adoption taking such a long time, like people waiting for two years and stuff like that?" I had just shared with her the timeline of our own adoption process: just under nine months from filing paperwork to bringing our baby home. My reply: "Because those people are waiting for full-Caucasian newborns, and they’ve probably specified gender. If you check all the boxes, you won’t be waiting nearly as long." This prompted an important conversation about race and the adoption industry, including the fact that babies like my son are considered "difficult to place" because of their color and often cost less to adopt.

4. Decide your deal-breakers ahead of time.

What are the customs that really matter to each branch of the family? Who feels strongly about naming traditions? You may have decided many of these things as a couple, but babies tend to raise the stakes. Your parents may suddenly care about what you’re doing on Christmas Eve, what you’re eating, and the memories you are creating for their grandchildren.

It’s impossible to anticipate every occasion, of course, but some thoughtful questions ahead of time can potentially avoid conflict.

For example, it was/is really important to me that Shiv be raised within an Indian cultural framework, which includes, for my family, Hindu rituals and practice. Jill knew this from the get-go and had no objections, but this approach does ask something of her — to come along on holidays, to eat certain foods on certain days (and not eat certain foods on other days), etc.

5. Pay attention to representation.

As parents, we are deliberate about what brand of blanket to buy; why would we not also be deliberate about the images that surround our children and thereby inform their self-conception? Be conscious about things like books, TV shows, movies, parks and playgrounds, grocery stores, restaurants, and schools.

Shiv got so excited one day when we read Wynton Marsalis’ super-fun book "Squeak, Rumble, Whomp, Whomp, Whomp." The book follows a young black boy as he narrates the sounds he encounters in his everyday life. "That’s me! I in the book!" He was thrilled.

Just today, he pointed to characters in a book we were reading and said "They black," he nodded, "I black, too." He asked, "You black, Mommy?"

"No, baby, Mama’s brown," I said. He put it all together: "I black, you brown, and Gigi white." That's right, I told him. Then we went back to reading our book.

Image via iStock.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Find groups for adoptive parents, including subcategories like transracial adoptive families or LGBTQ adoptive families, on Facebook and post your questions — or vent your frustrations — there.

"What do you do when someone assumes you’re the nanny?" "How do you respond when someone asks about 'his daddy'?" But remember that it’s not the responsibility of your friends or acquaintances of color to "explain to you" whatever it is you want to know. Don’t hold them responsible for representing their entire race or ethnicity.

Sometimes, a trusted source is closer than you might think. In the wake of an ugly playground incident, when a white boy told Shiv that "no black boys were allowed" in the sandbox, I debriefed with my mom. She is fair-skinned and often had to deal with strangers’ bullshit about me, her darker-skinned daughter. She helped me think about how I would handle the situation differently in the future.

7. Be prepared for relationship surprises — pleasant and unpleasant.

Some connections will be strengthened, but others you may decide to cut loose — these decisions and conversations may be incredibly difficult and disappointing. For LGBTQ and transracial families, this may be even more so the case. Don’t be afraid to communicate particular standards for your family and friends when it comes to what is and isn’t said in the presence of your child. Don’t force your child to advocate for themselves or to give a pass to relatives who aren’t willing to move or bend.

8. Follow your child’s lead.

When it comes to experiences and interests, I am a firm believer in giving children options and letting them choose. (When it comes to what you get to drink with dinner, however, I am a firm believer in water or milk.) While it is important to be sensitive to cultural needs that your child may have, it is equally as important not to force any such experience on your kid. Offer the experiences that you feel may appeal to your child, then support their choice.

For example, I didn’t realize the extent to which the barbershop is a formative experience for many black men — of course I didn’t because I am not a black man. Luckily, some of my students clued me in: "Ms. Mehra, he’s got to go! We’ll take him." Now that he’s old enough, I’ll take them up on the offer; but if Shiv doesn’t enjoy going, I won’t insist that he go in the future.

9. Keep some phrases in your arsenal.

"He doesn’t have to be biological to be 'mine.'"

"Yes, our family was built through adoption."

"That’s a very personal question to ask a stranger."

"Actually, he has two moms."

"If you’d like to learn more about adoption, I’d be happy to point you to some resources."

"Oh, would you like to talk about how you conceived your child?"

10. Think about bridges.

Because I am an English teacher and a word nerd, I often turn to etymology for guidance. The Latin prefix "trans" means "across, on the far side, beyond." As members of transracial families, we are given access to the beyond of another’s experience, but that doesn’t make their experience ours.

To claim that because I have a black son, I know what it means to be black is as ridiculous as saying that because I have a son, I know what it means to be a male. Being Shiv’s parent has created windows — windows through which I can see things that I didn’t before, windows for which I am grateful — but it is essential for me to remember that I don’t have the full view.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

A woman is upset with her husband and wants to leave him.

There are a few big reasons why 70% of divorces in the United States among heterosexual couples are filed by women. Women have more economic opportunities than in decades past and are better positioned to care for themselves and their children without a husband’s income.

Another big reason is that even though the world has become much more egalitarian than in the past, women still bear the brunt of most of the emotional labor in the home. Gilza Fort-Martinez, a Florida, US-based licensed couples’ therapist, told the BBC that men are socialized to have lower emotional intelligence than women, leaving their wives to do most of the emotional labor.

Secondly, studies show that women still do most of the domestic work in the home, so many are pulling double duty for their households.


A TikTokker with two children (@thesoontobeexwife) shared why she decided to leave her husband of two decades and her story recounts a common theme: She did all the work and her husband did little but complain.

The video, entitled “Why women leave,” has received over 2 million views.

@thesoontobeexwife

Y’all I laughed when I realized he truly does treat me better now then when he was trying to be in a marriage with me. How is this better?? How did I ever think before was ok?? #toxicrelationship #divorce #mentalloadofmotherhood #divorcetok #divorceisanoption #chooseyou #mentalhealth #mentalload #fyp #mentalload #emotionallabor

“So for the men out there who watch this, which frankly I kind of hope there aren’t any, you have an idea maybe what not to do,” she starts the video. “Yesterday, I go to work all day, go pick up one kid from school, go grocery shopping, go pick up the other kid from school, come home. Kids need a snack–make the snack. Kids want to play outside – we play outside.”

Her husband then comes home after attending a volunteer program, which she didn’t want him to join, and the self-centeredness begins. “So he gets home, he eats the entire carton of blueberries I just purchased for the children’s lunch and asks me what’s for dinner. I tell him I don’t know because the kids had a late snack and they’re not hungry yet,” she says in the video.

She then explains how the last time he cooked, which was a rare event, he nearly punched a hole in the wall because he forgot an ingredient. Their previous home had multiple holes in the walls. Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and host of the Power of Different podcast, says that when punch walls it’s a sign that they haven’t “learned to deal with anger in a reasonable way.”

“Anyway, finally one kid is hungry,” the TikTokker continues. “So I offered to make pancakes because they’re quick and easy and it’s late. He sees the pancake batter and sees that there’s wheat flour in it and starts complaining. Says he won’t eat them. Now I am a grown adult making pancakes for my children who I am trying to feed nutritionally balanced meals. So yes, there’s wheat flour in the pancake mix.”

Then her husband says he’s not doing the dishes because he didn’t eat any pancakes. “Friends, the only thing this man does around this house is dishes occasionally. If I cook, he usually does the dishes. I cook most nights. But here’s the thing. That’s all he does. I do everything else. Everything. Everything.”

She then listed all of the household duties she handles.

“I cook, I clean the bathrooms, I make the lunches, I make the breakfasts, I mow the lawn, I do kids’ bedtime. I literally do everything and he does dishes once a day, maybe,” she says.

@thesoontobeexwife

I HAVE OFFICIALLY FILED FOR DIVORCE 🎉 #divorce #divorcetok #toxicrelationship #divorceisanoption #fyp #mentalhealth #chooseyou #iamenough #iwillnotbeafraid #mentalloadofmotherhood #emotionallabor

The video received over 8700 comments and most of them were words of support for the TikTokker who would go on to file for divorce from her husband.

"The amount of women I’ve heard say that their male partners are only teaching how to be completely independent of them, theirs going to be so many lonely men out there," Gwen wrote. "I was married to someone just like this for over 35 years. You will be so happy when you get away from him," BeckyButters wrote.

"The way you will no longer be walking on eggshells in your own home is an amazing feeling. You got this!" Barf Simpson added.


This article originally appeared on 5.21.23

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

via Google

People reading at the Gothenburg City Library in Sweden.

Basketball coaching legend John Wooden once famously said, "The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching," and he has a great point. It’s one thing to do what’s right when you are afraid you’ll be punished for doing the wrong thing by an authority figure. It’s another to do the right thing because your peers will applaud you.

But the highest moral good is doing what’s right when no one is watching because that’s doing good for its own sake.

A story out of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that in that community, the patrons of its library know a little something about doing good just because it’s the right thing to do.

On November 4, the Gothenburg City Library was closed for All Saints Day. The day is a holiday dedicated to remembering loved ones who passed by lighting a candle on their graves, or spending time with family and having a festive meal.


The City Library was scheduled to be closed for the holiday, but one of the employees forgot to lock the building door. So, being that it was a Saturday, hundreds of people flocked to the library to check out books, read magazines, surf the internet, or play video games.

gothenburg sweden, libraries, kindness

Bike parking at the Gothenburg City Library in Sweden.

via Johannes Ortner/Flickr

Library employee Anna Carin Elf was in the neighborhood and was shocked to see people walking in and out of the library when it was supposed to be closed. Even though it wasn’t supposed to be open, the people in the library just went about their business as if it was a typical day.

“They were surprised. They thought it was a bit empty,” Elf said, according to ZME Science. “The people in the library behaved as usual. Many were sitting reading newspapers, some families were in the children’s section and others were searching for books on the computer.”

Elf contacted her boss and another colleague and told everyone in the library that the building was closed. The patrons closed up their books and went home. But some left with books for some weekend reading.

The librarians later did a tally and found that 446 people visited the library on All Saints Day and 246 books were borrowed. Surprisingly, all of the books were returned within 5 days. "Nothing was destroyed. It's amazing that Gothenburgers enter an empty library and treat it so lovingly," Elf told The Local.

Through that act, the people of Gothenburg showed us what community spirit is all about. Their collective honesty is a beautiful indicator of their love for their library, its resources and their fellow citizens. Because when you rob a library, you’re stealing from your community.

The story is a powerful reminder to people all over the world of how we should view our public libraries. They aren’t just buildings but a crucial part of our community, a hub of learning and a symbol of our trust in each other.

It also proves the old Iraqi proverb: “The reader does not steal, and the thief does not read.”


This article originally appeared on 11.9.23


Family

Dad shares family's confusion when his young son demanded 'people chicken' for dinner

It took them awhile to figure it out, but once you see it, you can't unsee it.

"People chicken" sounds…disturbing

One of the best parts of having kids is having a full-time, front row seat to the way they interpret and use language as they grow. There's the classic mispronunciations of "spaghetti," of course, but there are also one-of-a-kind terms they coin based on their limited vocabulary and the unique way they look at the world.

Kids say the darnedest things, and as Dillon White shared on Instagram, one of those darned things could be a young child requesting "people chicken" for dinner. Not just requesting, but demanding: "I WANT PEOPLE CHICKEN!!"

People chicken. There are only so many ways to interpret that, all of which could land you on the FBI's radar.

Of course, it was a small child saying this, so there had to be an explanation.

White explained that he and his wife tried everything to get their kiddo to clarify what he meant by "people chicken," including having him draw a picture of what he was wanting. Unfortunately, the stick figure person he drew did not help relieve any concerns that their child might be a cannibal.

Finally, White's 7-year-old daughter came up with a solution that revealed what her younger brother wanted. It was not, in fact, chicken made out of people. Phew.

Watch:

It's true. Once you see Colonel Sanders' bow tie as a stick figure, you can't unsee it.

Even KFC's official account responded to the video, writing, "You see it once, and you can't unsee it." HA.

White was not alone in his kid seeing the stick figure Col. Sanders.

"The SAME thing (conversation) happened to us 22 years ago!! My toddler was practically throwing himself trying to make us understand that he wanted 'Old Man Chicken'!!!!!! And yup, it was KFC he was asking for. We have referred to it as ‘Old Man Chicken’ all these years now 😂!!" shared on commenter.

"About halfway through we figured out what he was talking about but that’s only because my kids have been saying for years that the KFC man is a stick figure with a really big head. Tell Mason he’s not the only kid who thought that.Lol 😂😂😂" shared another.

"I think I’ve been working with children too long because the instant you said people chicken my brain said 'that’s kfc,' 😂 wrote another.

Other people chimed in to share their kids' hilarious naming conventions for chicken places:

"My son was in tears for 'Pinky Toe.' Turns out he thought the Chick-fil-A emblem was a foot 😂," wrote one parent.

"Lol. My daughter refers to Chick-fil-A as 'foot' because their logo actually reserved a footprint. So interesting thinking of the different ways that children see things that we adults don't. It's amazing!" shared another.

"My kids call Buffalo Wild Wings 'stinky skunks' because from a distance, the logo looks like a skunk to them. We went through a similar very confusing moment to figure that one out as you can imagine, 🤦♀️🤣" shared another.

White is right. We should let kids name everything. They're so much better at it than adults are.

You can follow Dillon White on Instagram here and TikTok here.


This article originally appeared on 2.7.24