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! 🙂