The Truth Shall Set You Free!

Posted in Ava Grace by

The truth has a funny way of always coming out. I’m a firm believer in that. I don’t believe in telling lies, they will always come back to bite you in the ass! I don’t like hiding the truth and I believe that sooner or later, anyone with a conscience will eventually let the truth out.

Walter is from a traditional Afrikaner family and while he is nothing like them, there are elements of his family that fit perfectly into the conservative, racist cliché’s we’ve all heard. When we told my family we were pursuing adoption, they were fully supportive of our decision, no questions asked. When we told Walter’s family, we got a very different reaction, one question and one question only was asked over and over and over again… were we adopting a white baby?

Since bringing Ava home, obviously those questions have been put to rest. But we’ve faced a lot of judgment, especially from the online community regarding the race of our baby. It has annoyed me and insulted me but, I have kept my tongue and allowed people to live with their own assumptions, hell, I’ve even fed into other people’s assumptions at times.

I have not been comfortable with this, but I went along with it because of my husband and because of the type of family he comes from. But I have seen the uneasiness growing within him month after month and it has been with me too. On Monday night he broke down, on Monday night he phoned our social worker and then his entire family, in tears, on Monday night, he let the truth set us free, on Monday night he set right the assumptions of many and by doing that he has given me the opportunity to set the truth straight.

The thing that has always bothered me is how assumptions could come back to damage our relationship with Ava when she’s older. Ava has nothing to be ashamed of, she is beautiful, loved, wanted and cherished but by allowing people to live with the incorrect and at times encouraged assumption, we are doing her a major disservice, we are, with our actions, sending her a message, which while she does not understand right now, she will as an adult understand that she has reason to feel ashamed or rather that we are ashamed of her roots, which we are not.

It’s for that reason that my husband did the bravest thing on Monday night, and which I’m going to do now, to my IRL friends, I’m sorry you’re finding out this way, but it’s just easy for me to say it once than explain over and over again. And personally I feel this should never be an issue in the first place, granted it was not handled well and so has  been turned into a far bigger deal than what it actually is.

Ava is not Caucasian, well she’s half Caucasian, she’s what in South Africa is known as mixed race. All very complicated I’m sure, for those living overseas where race is not an issue but in a country fraught with race issues, even though there is no longer any formal race classification, there is still a differentiation. We have whites, we have blacks and we have coloureds, who are a mix of white and black or a mix of cultures. It was only when we started the adoption procedure did we discover that there was a 4th “classification” and that is mixed race. Ava’s mother is Caucasian and Ava’s father is Coloured. Apparently mixed race is not the same as coloured – go figure???

The most heart warming part of all is how Walter’s family have received the news, every single one of them told him that they loved Ava regardless and that it made no difference to them. I only wished they hadn’t started out our adoption journey by placing so much emphasis on race, if they hadn’t done that, I doubt that Walter would have felt the need to hide the truth from them.

He touched my heart on Monday night when he phoned each and every one of them individually and told them how much he loved Ava and how he wanted her to grow up knowing how proud he was to be her Dad and that by hiding a part of who she is, he was not only jeopardizing having a relationship with her as an adult but he was hurting her and he was concerned he was going to make her feel ashamed about something she didn’t need to be ashamed of.

I think this is a lesson for all of us. I think this is a lesson for all the people who judged us because they assumed we chose to adopt a Caucasian baby. I think this is a lesson that the magic of a child can bridge any divide.

I’m proud of my husband for standing up for his daughter, I’m proud of him for facing the truth and risking the judgment and loss of his family. But most of all I’m proud of my beautiful miracle child.

The irony of the entire situation is that while Ava has a white birth mom, yet she looks NOTHING like her blonde, green-eyed birth mom, so we can only assume that she inherited all of her birth fathers rather obvious good looks! 🙂

August 25, 2010
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40 Comments

  • Reply zamom

    Not easy I’m sure but what a gorgeous child she is, thanks to her bio parents, and what a wonderful person she’ll grow up to be thanks to her real parents. I thought that most of us South African whites are all a bit mixed race anyway?

    August 25, 2010 at 10:33 am
  • Reply zamom

    I meant not easy to tell evryone after so long, sorry, it came out wrong.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:34 am
  • Reply coachmarcia

    Sharon, I must tell you I always suspected. Maybe because I have “mixed race” babies?

    And I didn’t know the phrase “mixed race” before 🙂

    So my kids are mixed race – hmmm 🙂

    Of course it makes not the slightest bit of difference – she is LOVED. End of story. But it’s lovely to have Walter’s family accept her totally now.

    You’re so right – the truth sets you free. I felt that lightness of being, the unburdened feeling when I came out of the closet about being infertile.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:35 am
  • Reply mommy2m

    Oh Sharon, honey!! I am so glad you feel comfortable enough to let the truth out here and know that it makes absolutely no difference. you will at least be able to breathe easy knowing that there is nothing to hide or worry about the reactions from Walter’s family. She is beautiful and growing up so quickly. She has wonderful parents who are living proof of their values. What an awesome start to a life of love. learning and confidence!!
    Congrats on your mixed race baby!!! I think your revelation is going to make the adoption process easier for so many wanna be parents. You just smashed a stigma!! Go girl!!
    Love Robyn

    August 25, 2010 at 10:42 am
  • Reply trishdg

    Wow Sharon – as always you and Walter amaze me with how wondefully you handle every situation and are such great parents. That must have been a very hard thing to do and you are very brave to be so honest knowing it may bring harsh judgements. I find it hard to believe it would change anyone’s opinion of your gorgeous Ava but I know some people have strange ideas. I agree with zamom that I kinda think of us as all a bit mixed race anyway and one day the whole population of the world will be one big melting pot of mixed race and there will be no race divisions and Ava is maybe just a little ahead of her time – a cute trendsetter!

    August 25, 2010 at 10:46 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I agree with you and ZA Mom, its been proven before that none of us are “pure” in any race. The Human Genome Project was amazing proof of how mixed we all are.

      I’m unhappy with the way the situation was handled, I wanted to shout from the roof tops from the moment we met our Birth Mom that Ava was mixed race but out of respect for my husband and his fears over his family, I went along with it and I hate that we’ve not only put ourselves in an awkward situation, but also the people around us and I hate that something that is not an issue now has to be announced to the world like it is an issue all because of how badly we handled things in the beginning.

      I’m sure we will face some judgment but I’d already told Walter that anyone who can’t love Ava for who she is is not worth having in my life. We are a package deal, if you can’t accept her, you can’t be part of me!

      August 25, 2010 at 10:50 am
  • Reply vroutjie

    She is still the most gorgeous baby – so who cares!

    Enjoy!

    August 25, 2010 at 10:56 am
  • Reply ldr1604

    I think living in Cape Town rather than in Joburg has made me regard people as South African rather than trying to specify an exact classification. IMHO this post wasn’t necessary for the rest of us to read (you don’t owe anyone an explanation or racial definition) but if it was important for you to write the post then I am glad you did. Also glad Walter’s family were accepting, maybe they wouldn’t have been before they met Ava but maybe now that they can see she is just a lovable little girl, the adoption could help them see past color and our country’s past. Maybe you actually handled this just perfectly…

    August 25, 2010 at 11:05 am
  • Reply little29

    I so love the fact that you feel you can share this with us! you and Walter are truly remarkable and what a weight off your shoulders – everything that Ava is should be celebrated – and yes the truth DOES set us free. And ditto to what many have commented – we all a bit of mix regardless. XX

    August 25, 2010 at 11:13 am
  • Reply gailsnail

    Ah, Sharon! I don’t think it makes a difference either way. She is such a beautiful, precious little thing who is so loved by everybody. I am so glad that W’s family reacted so well and that you guys have now been set free from all of this. xxx

    August 25, 2010 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Nisey

    Sharon, my husbands family are also afrikaans, conservative and sometimes leave a lot to be desired. I wish i knew where my most awesome man came from!!
    They too asked us about race from the get go and at the time we were considering a coloured baby. Since DH isn’t too close to his family we weren’t bothered about their response.
    Ava is beautiful and my personal belief is that mixing genes makes for much stronger genetics and beautiful people… She is a true example of the beauty of ‘mixed race’
    W needs a medal for being able to stand in his truth, our conservative society can be ruthless.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:46 am
  • Reply thebsdiaries

    she’s bladdy cute! well done Shaz. x

    August 25, 2010 at 11:58 am
  • Reply charminka

    Sharon – you and Walter as SUCH great parents and Ava is so blessed and loved – by not only you guys, her family (on all sides) but also us cyber friends here. It makes absolutely no difference what her race is to me! And I must also say – look at her pics… if I didnt know she was adopted I would never have guessed!! xoxoxo

    August 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm
  • Reply Me

    Until the world stops putting ANY emphasis on a persons skin colour/race, we as a society will never move past it.

    Red, black, yellow, brown, latte, white, mocca – who gives a stuff, we’re all the same underneath it all.

    You’re a better person than I, husbands feelings and family or not, I would have been shouting it from the rooftops when anyone asked.

    Congrats on being not only true to yourself but most importantly to your daughter.

    x

    August 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm
  • Reply jonivdw

    I’m soo glad it’s all worked out for the best! My hubby is also from an extremely conservative afrikaans family and it was hard in the beginning but very soon everyone was accepting!!

    She is just too gorgeous for words and who cares what she’s classified as! She’s yours and she’s beautiful!!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm
  • Reply marina1605

    Ava is beautiful Sharon, she’s yours it doesn’t matter where she comes from!

    August 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply suestuart

    Yay for Walter! So glad his family has reacted positively 🙂

    August 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply aussiekim

    We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color. — Maya Angelou

    What a beautiful thread Ava is in your families tapestry Sharon~!

    Much luv

    Kimmie
    x

    August 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply lizdb

    Ava is truly beautiful, well done W!!

    August 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm
  • Reply pandoragelb

    You faced judgement for wanting to adopt within your race, others face judgement for choosing to adopt a different race. Just proves you can’t please everyone! I maintain that to close family and true friends it doesn’t matter in the end, a baby is a baby, they all deserve to be loved unconditionally. Anyone that can’t see that, doesn’t deserve to be in her life.
    I hope that by the time our babies are older, this race issue will have started fading. They are all beutiful little angels!

    August 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm
  • Reply hanneke001

    You guys are amazing, Ava is a stunning little girl, you are all so blessed to have one another !!

    August 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm
  • Reply tanyakov

    She is gorgeous, healthy and happy, and has two of the most adoring parents ever, so does anything else matter?

    I’ve learnt from working with a young team on a young product that they don’t see colour anymore. It’s only older generations…

    August 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm
  • Reply lea2109

    Ava is absolutely beautiful, you are great parents and it is a shame that there are people who are all about race and that is all that is important to them. But know that there are many of us who don’t see your beautiful little girl as ‘mixed race’ – we simply see a gorgeous little girl who seems to light up the room with her smile, a little girl who is a true miracle, somebody giving hope when hope seemed so far away. We simply see a little girl!

    August 25, 2010 at 11:05 pm
  • Reply emk808

    I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough to tell us, even though hopefully you knew that none of us would care whether Ava was mixed race or pink with purple polka dots. She’s your daughter no matter what, and she’s beautiful to boot. I’m lucky that I grew up in the US where (at least now) there is no separation between races at all, and I have never seen any type of racial segregation or discrimination. What I have seen are Blacks, Whites, Mulattos (that’s what we call a mix of black & white…they look more light brown), what have you. And it’s all beautiful. And now, I think you should listen to part of Dr. Joseph Lowery’s great benediction from Obama’s inauguration.

    You don’t have to watch the whole thing…just go straight to 4m 30s, and I know you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

    August 26, 2010 at 1:30 am
  • Reply anynamesavailable

    agree with what everyone has said, im just sad it was even an issue in the first place! but yes we are all “mixed race” as far as Im concerned too!Ava is the most beautiful little miracle , has brought so much joy to her mommy and daddy and thats all that counts xxxxxxx

    August 26, 2010 at 2:24 am
  • Reply ksmind

    xxx

    August 26, 2010 at 9:06 am
  • Reply sarahandgia

    Sharon ,

    Im so touched that you have shared such a beautiful and personal part of your family with us all . You and Walter are such good Parents and so strong and your love for Ava is so great . And like everyone else has said she is yours all of her and she is so beautiful and I believe that when she is older she is going to Thank you both for being strong enough to stand up for her .
    Thanks again for sharing.
    Jacqui
    xxx

    August 26, 2010 at 10:08 am
  • Reply tzipieastwest

    Congrats on your W. for speaking out and on both of you for being such a good parents to the beautiful miracle that was entrusted to you, maybe mixed color/race but surely purely human !!
    Wishing you strength to cope with the (racist) comments that may come your way.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm
  • Reply orbit365

    I think that you and Walter handled this perfectly. You are awesome parents. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal post. And thank you for being strong enough to stand up for your girl.
    xx

    August 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm
  • Reply michiem1

    It really amazes me how people feel that they can sit on their judgment seats and feel that they have the right to declare what is right and what is “wrong”!!God has created us equal-a slight difference in pigmentation but definately equal! Before you even started thinking of children God had you and Walter speacially planned to be the special mom and dad to Ava. For Ava there can be no better. Well done on your bravery.

    August 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm
  • Reply hollielee5

    I wrote this LONG comment, and truthfully, it had some tears involved. Then the power blinked. So I really can’t bring myself to go there again. But know that I think this is just wonderful. Let US and our CHILDREN be the generations that stop racial hatred. SO incredibly silly, to distinguish between races, colors, whatever. I care more about how a person acts, and if they have a good heart.

    August 26, 2010 at 8:22 pm
  • Reply Mash

    Wow! That’s amazing. You know, my hairdresser’s sister adopted two black little girls and her father was dead set against it. He was racist as many of our parents’ generation are in this country. Then he realised he was going to lose his daughter unless he got over it, and the day she came home with the first baby, her house was decorated in pink ribbons and balloons – by her dad. He’s apparently still a bit racist (I guess old habits die hard) but his girls are his girls and he loves them equally to his other grandchildren. Colour is something we choose to see only if we want to. And the irony of it is that you could never tell that Ava was mixed race, even if it did matter. Isn’t it all just so silly that we spent years in this country getting our knickers in a knot about it?

    August 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm
  • Reply Zeu

    The love of a monther knows no boundries.. And honestly, why should it ever be expected to have any boundries?

    Not only are your navigating these challenges and stigmas, but you teach and touch others lives with the lessons you are learning.

    Thank you for allowing me to learn from your very special journey!

    August 27, 2010 at 9:02 am
  • Reply skrambled

    WOW! Sorry I am so late on this but I have been busy. This post is wonderful! I definitely think that we put too much emphasis on race and colour and heritage and that translates into a label. I am currently working through a lot that involves labeling in my life and this post has actually made me think about that. Families are diverse and can’t fit into a box. I need to accept that for myself too. Thanks for this Shaz….its really made me think.

    August 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm
  • Reply wheresmybun

    Finally I can comment.

    You and Walter are stunning, lovely, brave, wonderful and loving parents and friends. I strongly believe that everything always works out in the end. I know doing this post was difficult for you, and I commend you for doing it. Race has never ever been an issue in my life. If there was one thing my mother taught me that I really appreciate, was that people are all equal. God loves all of us. It’s just sad that Walter didn’t have the freedom to be open to his family about it, but in the end he did and I’m so glad they have accepted Ava. Your little girl is gorgeous and nothing will stand in her way to become all that she can be!

    August 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm
  • Reply kirstymac72

    black, white, yellow, purple….. who gives a monkeys?? The first question should be: is she healthy, is she happy? If the answer is yes to both those, then she is blessed, and so are you x-x.

    August 30, 2010 at 7:44 am
  • Reply dee

    I started reading your blog from the first post down and when you mentioned something about 75% white, 25% coloured I just said “oh, ok”, I actually thought you were just merely mentioning it and then I read further and realised that your hubby had “come out” and you were infact sharing something quite intimate. Thank you for sharing with us but its really none of anyone else’s business. Ava is a gorgeous little girl who is loved by all and thats all that matters, not what percentage race she is (although to others maybe this means something, to me its not really anything important). xxx

    August 30, 2010 at 9:34 am
  • Reply Hanneke C

    Sharon, thanks for again sharing your adoption process, I admire you and Walter! I’m sad that race is an issue in the world! God created us all equal! Ava is sooo blessed to have you and Walter as parents!

    August 31, 2010 at 9:38 am
  • Reply mrssee2

    Happy hugs to you and Walter. I am sure you both feel a lot better now.

    August 31, 2010 at 2:05 pm
  • Reply reluctantmom

    After all you and Walter have been through to get to this point … and then to still have this issue eating away at you …. and then you handle it with such decorum and love … I honestly take my hat off to you two … I do not think I would have the good grace and ability to be so understanding of others that the two of you seem to possess … I am continually awed that somehow, someway the two of you came together to create this life together and be parents to this wonderful little girl …. and love to openly and without resentment and anger …. I am jealous she has the two of you as parents … really wow ….. xxx

    September 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm
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