Through out high school and college I dated often. The attention I got from women helped to fill my adoptee-need for acceptance. When I was dating a girl I thought was respectable, I would often bring them to meet my parents. It was important to me to get my parent’s approval(another one of my adoptee side effecs) so the girls that were better than average got to meet Mom and Dad.
There were some I dated that Mom and Dad never knew about. Those were the ones that were really jagged, more than rough, around the edges. I don’t think that was unique to me being an adoptee. There are girls who are worthy of bringing home to meet the parents and there are girls who are not. Mom and Dad never even heard about those who were not worthy.
I made a point to let those who I dated know about my unusual family. Usually, very early on in the dating process I would say something like, “You know, I’m a minority in my own family….” This would usually start the conversation about the house I lived in. I was never ashamed of my family and as I have mentioned the attention I got from being from an atypical family fed my strong desire for attention. I also learned over time this was a great pick-up line; not many women were approached with this type of opening.
It never occurred to me that some of the woman I dated wouldn’t approve of my family or have a hard time with the melting pot contained in the four walls of my home. I never questioned those that I dated if they were alright with it because I was alright with it. As I review those interactions and rewind the tapes of my memory, I think because I presented it the way I did very few of the woman I dated had issues with it. I presented it as a package deal. The white people come with me. If you accept me, you have to accept them.My assumptions replaced important conversations.
As I inspect those tapes a little closer, I can tell you there were a few that were uncomfortable with my family arrangement. One girlfriend in particular was, at best, uneasy with it. She stopped talking around my parents and showed very little interest in getting to know them or spending time with them. Outside of the work world she had very little interaction with white people and now I can easily see she was uncomfortable around those with less melanin in their skin.
When I met my wife-to-be, immediately I sensed she was worthy to met the parents, and shortly after we began dating I made an excuse to go visit my parents. I arranged to go to my parents to change my oil in their garage because I didn’t have a garage or a dry place to change my oil. My wife-to-be agreed to go with me and sat inside with my parents while I changed the oil in the garage.
This was an unfair thing to do to her as I review the circumstances, and I was assuming a lot and asking even more from her. She sat and held her own with the strange Caucasians, who were my parents, as I emptied out my oil pan in the garage.
It was fortunate for me that she was secure enough to be in that position and the integration of my girlfriend, who would become my fiancé, and then my wife, into my transracial family was seamless but it wasn’t because of anything I did.
I never considered my black world wouldn’t accept my white world. I assumed that as a black person you have to know how to move in this white world, so any black woman I dated would know how to do this and be comfortable with it; that was assuming A LOT.
Because of what I know now I can say there were probably more girlfriends than I knew that weren’t comfortable around my family. The racial tension that defines the world we live in makes racial differences and beliefs hard to ignore. Just as there are some households that teach their white children not to trust blacks, there are black households that teach their children not to trust whites. I’m sure many of girls I dated were raised in this environment. So how did they see me and/or my family? To bring those two races together in one family without exploring the potential powder keg that is there was very naive on my part. Fortunately, I choose the right woman, who came from the right family, and there were not issues for us to sort out.
If I were to rewind the present into the past, I would have done a better job of vetting those that I was dating and would have replace assumptions with conversation.
During those dating years, it was like I was walking through an ammunition depot with gasoline soaked underwear; any small spark could have ignited a world of hurt for me. My fear is that those who read this will say, “Well, it worked out alright for him, so we can ignore these potential problems too.” Don’t ignore the mistakes we made. Be aware of what could be waiting for you and address it.
Dating for TRAs can be an ammunition depot, be aware of that, and go into it with eyes open and underware gasoline-free.
Be sure to click on the webinar link to the right at the top to see about a 90 minute training session I’m doing online. This is a great way to hear how to get this thing called Transracial adoption right and ask questions from someone who has been through it.
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