Reclaiming the Calendar

by Avril McInally

Per Encyclopedia Britannica, one of the definitions of the word reclaim is, “to get back something (that was lost or taken away).” Think about this definition for a minute.   Generally, I’ve considered the claiming (the taking), but not the reclaiming (the loss that has occurred). It’s how most of society processes adoption.  People generally think about the claiming and the taking but not the loss that has occurred. 

April asks in her cards for September, “What special days do you put on the calendar every year so you don’t forget?”  I  write some things down… my daughters’ birthdays, my fiancé's birthday, vacations to look forward to, holidays, special invitations, deadlines, one of my favorite bands playing near my hometown, medical appointments and more. But, never have I thought what in my calendar is a reclamation of what’s been lost?  What’s been lost and how do I reclaim it? What’s been lost for my adopted daughter and how can I help her regain what she’s lost?

Think about this, Dear Reader, and consider using your calendar to reclaim your child’s identity, culture, family of origin as you continue to build an inclusive, multicultural and “multifamilial” (yes, I just made that word up) vehicle to celebrate your family.  Here are some other meanings of the word reclaim to help you in this endeavor:









(for more about this month's theme of how to use reclaiming the calendar as a way of bringing your family more clarity and confidence, see our post on this month's conversation prompts; September is for Navigating and Moving Through Life with Clarity and Confidence)

This post is from our September, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

Books, Books and More Books featuring Black protagonists!

by Avril McInally and Vicki Richards

August is the month we prepare our children for going back to school and April’s August card for Facing and Embracing Differences of Race and Culture asks some introspective questions that might prepare our families for the school year to come.

  • What can you do to better prepare me for what I might face at school?
  • How do you think your experiences in school were different from mine?

To help us adults to remember and to introduce our children to a range of possibilities and experiences that might unfold for them in the academic year ahead, we choose to focus on differences of race and culture via our recently-launched Transracial Journeys Bibliography. This bibliography has been a year in the making and prepared for our families by myself (a professional adult librarian) and my friend and colleague Vicki Richards, a professional children’s librarian. From birth through adulthood, we’ve curated a collection of titles that share experiences (fictitiously and non-fictitiously) that touch on topics and stories shared from the perspective of African Americans.  Whenever we could find them, we also included stories and experiences of adoption, fostering, blended families, and LGBTQ+ people. There isn’t a lot out there about adoption, but there is more now than there has been in the past. Vicki and I are searching for more for next year’s bibliography.

In this Transracial Journeys Bibliography 2023, back-to-school and school themes are prevalent as stories like the following unfold:

  • Vanessa in “Becoming Vanessa” grapples with her name on the first day of school
  • “Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn” depicts a multicultural society experiencing the change of season
  • “Henry at Home” illustrates what happens between siblings when one of them leaves home for the first time to attend kindergarten
  • In “Class Act” we see our Black protagonist enter 9th grade in a mostly white school
  • Dax Devlon-Ross in “Letters to My White Male Friends” shares a lot about transitioning from an all Black school to an all white private school as a child in D.C.. His memoir imparts glimpses into racial situations our own children might be navigating but don’t want to talk about.

In most of the fiction for teens or young adults, there are lots of school scenarios depicting not only first love but also attending Black Lives Matter marches or children coping with racism and/or bullying.

Between us, Vicki and I have read every single title on this bibliography and either one or both of us has wholeheartedly endorsed the books that made it to our list. It’s in your hands to promote, support and share this growing, beautiful body of Black authors and illustrators. It’s in your power to create a reading experience for your children populated with bedtime stories, humor, comics, memoirs and literary experiences featuring Black characters and protagonists. There is a literary African American canon, unfolding and building momentum, of authors and illustrators we should be sharing with all of our children (Black and white). It would be a loss to not grow up experiencing the books of Kadir Nelson, Sharon Flake, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Sharon Draper, Kwame Alexander, Justin Reynolds, Jason Reynolds or L.L. McKinney to name a few.

It’s our hope that you not only share these titles with your children, but that you (the grown ups) read them too in order to get some insight into the landscapes our children navigate away from home and away from us (their parents, their teachers, their neighbors, etc.). We also would ask that you share these books with non Black or non adopted children and adults to help promote more understanding of the sometimes invisible challenges of racism or phobias our children encounter. These books help us get back to Facing and embracing differences of race and culture. Sometimes this embrace can be as simple as cracking open a book, turning the page and sharing it with a loved one.

With a love of and wonder in reading,

Vicki Richards and Avril McInally

(click here to open/print/download Transracial Journeys Bibliography 2023)

This post is from our August, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

July Freedom: Exploring our Unique Identities

As we all learn more about our history and what freedom really means, July 4th gives us much to contemplate. Who is really free and when? Freedom related to adoption and exploring the truth of who we are as individuals and families is foundational and important.

July Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions

At Transracial Journeys we send our families conversation cues each month, from our Transracial Journeys card deck. The card deck contains three cards for each month, designed for the children to ask their parents. Below are the questions for July. Before letting your child get started, prepare by reading the parent pro-tip, from the Parent Guide, each month.

July Pro-Tip for Parents: Do your research on the complexities of July 4th and be ready to steer confidently into the conversation with your child/children. Create space to process the emotions that may come up as you prepare to have the conversation about freedom and enslavement with your child. Even if it is hard, don’t shy away from moving in the direction of openness related to hard topics like this. It is only when we are confident and centered in the truth of our histories both collective and individual that we can be truly FREE!


• What does freedom mean to you?
• Have you always felt free to explore who you are?

• Why do you think it is important that we all have the freedom to ask questions and explore everything that makes us unique and amazing?

• Can you help me understand why the 4th of July might be complicated for African Americans?

This post is from our July, 2023, e-newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe.  You will get invitations to our Parent Meet-Up each month, a virtual meeting to act as a transracial adoption support group - sharing issues, ideas and strategies for creating a culture of communication and curiosity in your home, as well as monthly card prompt to keep the conversations about race, adoption, family, love and relationships front and center all year long.  And lastly, you'll always be made aware of important dates for Transracial Journeys Family Camp.

Travels with the Tax Preparer

by Avril McInally

It’s summer and April 15 is well behind us. It’s a blip on the deadline radar, a distant memory (the more distant, the better). So, why am I talking about  taxes and my tax preparer in a transracial adoption newsletter? Read on to find out.

Once upon a time, I needed an expert to help me navigate a tricky situation with my local tax authority. After asking my friends for CPA and tax professional referrals, I ended up in Mr. D’s office on the near East Side. There, I was greeted by Mr. D’s second-in-command, Ms. B. While waiting for my appointment, I soon came to see Ms. B’s management of the office. For all she did, it seemed to me that she must have had eyes in the back of her head, two brains and perhaps, three hearts! She sat at the helm of a smoothly run, busy operation. In awe of Ms. B, I soon forgot the trouble that had landed me in her domain.

After a while, I was seen by Mr. D. He promptly took care of my tricky situation and earned not only my undying appreciation but my eternal patronage. For the next several years close to tax time, I spent a few hours in his office. It was really supposed to be a one hour appointment, but I didn’t just get my taxes prepared on these visits. At these annual appointments, I listened to Michael (for Mr. D soon became Michael) relay his experiences as a Black man, husband, father, businessman and community member. I listened intently to Michael, not just for me but also for my Black daughter. He straight up told me that it was important I knew how to raise a Black child and I was thankful for his honesty and in sharing parts of his community and culture experience with me.

One day, while sitting in his office, he asked if me and my daughters had any vacations planned that year. I said yes. We were planning on driving to Chincoteague Island to see the wild ponies. He then went on to talk about what it had been like for him driving to the South as a Black man and as a Black father with his wife and children in the car. He taught me to be more careful and alert driving (sometimes rurally) through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Every year I had my appointment with Michael, he offered something significant to me as a parent of a Black daughter. He reminded me often that I had a member of his community and extended family in my care, and that it was my privilege to take good care of her. But he didn’t just leave the conversation there, he went on and “filled me in” with personal stories from his own parenting journey.

After several years of working with Michael, he became gravely ill and passed on. I visited him in his decline and often thought of all of the Going Home pamphlets he had lovingly shared with me of his former clients. Soon, Michael had his own Going Home.

Ms. B ended up obtaining the credentials needed to run her own tax preparer business and now, my daughters and I visit her to have our taxes done every year. She’s got a framed picture of Michael in her office. We always talk about him and his legacy. Sometimes, we sit in her office waiting for our appointments rubbing elbows with women construction workers, salon workers and more. Now, my children have grown to cultivate their own relationships with Ms. B. They know that not only will they have their taxes prepared, but while doing so, they’ll get to support someone who is not only part of their community of Blackness and womanhood but also of humanity.

Happy trails, safe travels, take help where you can get it and be alert on your journey!

This post is from our July, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

Fathers’ Day, Making Space for Fathers Absent and Fathers Present

by Avril McInally

A few years ago, while writing about Mothers’ Day for our monthly TRJ newsletter, I made the decision to move the apostrophe over to commemorate my child’s reality of having two mothers. This is no accident and not an error in punctuation. It’s my way of elucidating that my child has more than one mother, as well as my way of making space for and acknowledging my child’s mother of origin. I choose to move the apostrophe over for fathers too.

If only it were as simple as moving an apostrophe to signal these intentions in conversation. It can be exhausting and intrusive having to explain my family's makeup. It’s an exhausting, repetitive experience for all of the members of our family. When I do choose to have “the talk”, I’ve come to think about the people in my extended family of adoption as being present to hear what I’m saying, and to speak as if my child is listening too. How do I honor my child’s story and her right to privacy? How do I honor her birth parents' same rights?

The adoption journey and its coinciding conversations don’t get any easier as our children age. They continue to be complex in new ways. Should I attend that funeral service for Grandma or Uncle? If I do go, where do I sit and where do my kids sit? Am I a painful reminder of a painful separation? Is our daughter a painful reminder of a painful separation? Do the visiting family members even know an adoption in the family happened? I have to keep coming back to ask myself the most important question which is “am I being a healthy support to my daughter”? The answer begins with me asking her the question, “Darling, you’ve got to let me know, should I stay or should I go?”. A little of the Clash’s lyrics can go a long way ;).

Moving the apostrophe is simple, these crucial conversation usually aren’t. It’s my way of saying I recognize all of the parents who helped bring our child into and raise her up in the world. So, maybe someday, instead of asking me all of the usual, mundane questions about race or adoption, ask me about my punctuation.

As June is the month which holds our national holiday for celebrating Fathers’ Day, I’d like to invite you to move the apostrophe over in consideration of all of your children’s fathers and father figures. In order to make that space for more than one father, April’s conversation prompts for June are a good place to start not just on Fathers’ Day but whenever you or your children feel the need. Happy Fathers’ Day from me and from everyone on the TRJ board!

This post is from our June, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

Mother, May I?

 - authored by April Dinwoodie,
Part-time Executive Director of Transracial Journeys

As a Black/Bi-racial transracially adopted person, do I need permission to love more than one mother? This May, I am once again faced with the “mother” of all holidays. It is a big one that warrants attention because of the complicated emotions that come up for so many adopted persons and members of the extended family of adoption. On top of the emotions that may already be present, there are the marketing messages that flood in from brands reminding us to celebrate the women in our lives that care for us.

As a kid, Mother's Day, was about my mom Sandi, the only mom I really knew. I was usually caught up in creating the PERFECT gift for her -- something to honor her, make her feel special and something I thought she’d really love. At some point though during the time leading up to Mother's Day, or on the actual day itself, thoughts of my biological mother crept in. I did not have the language to articulate them, so they came and went, or so I thought. What happened in reality is that my pain, grief, and loss, stayed present and unaccounted for, creating deep emotional confusion that would take years to unravel.

While I knew that I was adopted and there was another woman that I was connected to, there was no open door for me to consider or have a conversation about what that all actually meant and how I was to hold that information factually or emotionally. No one around me at the time had two mothers. It made sense for me to have only one, Sandi was a great mother, did I really need another one? Did I need another one that did not keep me? To be clear, my mom did not ever try to deny there was another woman that I was born to but she never encouraged me to think about her and we never really talked about her until I was a young adult and started to search.

Helping Adoptees on Mothers' Day

Throughout my search I never thought about being mothered by anyone else but my mom, Sandi. I was not looking to replace my mom but I did have a deep desire to know and create some kind of connection to the woman who gave birth to me. At one point, early in my search, someone close to me asked me if my searching for my birth mom was weird for my adoptive mom and would I then have two mothers? While I was not looking for the two women to co-mother me, I did immediately wonder why having two moms under any circumstances would be a problem. At this point in my life, I had many examples of two families where two women were caretaking children so why is it that in adoption, there is often the either or versus the both/and?

After years of personal healing work, running a research institute for adoption and foster care, working in schools, and being part of a community where I am connected to thousands of members of the extended family of adoption, I have come up with a few things for adoptive parents to consider and actions to take when navigating the both/and of Mothers’ Day.

● As a starting place, think about how you hold Mothers’ Day and how you were mothered. For some, these are not easy reflections to have. For others, there is only joy and beautiful feelings. And likely for many, there is both love and joy, and complexity and pain. If these mix of emotions around mothers can be true for you it stands to reason that a mix of emotions can be present for the child you parent through adoption. Start with you and investigate how you truly hold this most sacred relationship.

● Once you have a sense of how you feel about your connections to mother, think about your holding of your child’s mother of origin. Are you in touch? Do you know her name, birthday, what she is good at? Do you know about her medical history? Do you know if she held your child? These are all things for you to think about and act where you can to gather up some of this information. You don’t have to jump in and do the most, but even taking a few minutes out over the next week or so to have some quiet time to reflect could go a long way. And remember to even mark your calendar to give yourself time to think about your emotions connected to this throughout the year. Make sure you are not tucking your thoughts, feelings, and emotions away. Demonstrate that you can be open with all that comes with adoption and understand this can be a gateway to important healing.

● With some of your emotions in check, you can work to be in even better conversation and connection with your child centered on the topic of mothers. Too often I hear parents transactionally asking their child “do you think about your birth mom? Do you ever want to try to meet her?”. Those big questions can be too much to negotiate with some children and youth. I love it when parents that have grounded themselves and have a sense of how they feel. They can open up a healthy conversation with the child they are parenting by first sharing their thoughts and feelings. Something like…”Today I thought about XX/your birth mom, I wondered how she was and I was sad that we don’t know more about her. Do you ever wonder about her too? Do you want to sit down and talk with me about that?” Remember, you know your child better than anyone so use your personal style to communicate, just don’t miss an opportunity to communicate and keep a door open.

● As you create the conditions at home for open and healthy dialogue and connection to mothers of origin and extended birth family, remember outside of the home your child can be challenged by having more than one mom to consider. This is the time of year when school projects in celebration of Mother’s Day are happening. If you’ve had the conversations about your child’s birth mother and they wanted to create art for them too, teachers and caregivers need to know that your child may need some extra time. If you are not there yet and your child does not want to share their family structure for a school project, you can create something together at home. Even if you are not in touch with the birth mom, you can create something special for the time you might have a connection. There are usually complex circumstances at the root of adoption. There will be a lot of work that will go into creating and keeping connections to family of origin but it does not mean you can’t keep an open conversation especially when the world around us is reminding us of the special people of our lives.

Who says we can’t have more than one mom? Why can’t we have love for two significant women in our lives and be connected to them in different ways? Do we have to ask for permission to love the people we care about? As mothers and as parents today entrusted with children through adoption, you have the amazing opportunity to actively expand your hearts to the people connected to your child. Even when it’s highly complex, there are ways to have open and caring conversations about and real connections to extended family.

For this Mothers’ Day, I wish for a celebration of all the moms connected to adoption seen and unseen. A special wish for all of the TRJ moms I know and love, thank you for being brave, for doing the work, and for the love you show me as a member of your extended families.

Don’t forget to use May’s conversation cards if you have them. The prompts will help you as you explore this month.

Also Known As…

by Avril McInally

While preparing to write this month’s feature for our newsletter, I was reading April’s card entitled “Beginnings: What’s in a Name?” when I received an email from an old friend. My friend had just sent me an article called “Living in Adoption’s Emotional Aftermath: Adoptees reckon with corruption in orphanages, hidden birth certificates and the urge to search for their birth parents” by Larissa MacFarquahar. The article is a deep dive into the experiences of three women who were adopted and who also had their names changed by their adoptive parents. The article discusses other worlds, other narratives, other journeys and other names as well as families, cultures and countries of origin of three adopted women.

Do you have your child’s original birth certificate? Do you share the information on the birth certificate with your child? If there was a name given at birth, do you know it and do they?

Deanna Doss Shrodes aka Melanie Lynn Alley
As an adult knowing little about her own birth family Deanna Doss Shrodes states that she and other adoptees look for, “pieces of their lives or their selves that were missing, or had been falsified or renamed, trying to fit them to the pieces they had.” Shrodes discovered her own original birth certificate while playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with her sister. She found a box while hiding beneath her parent’s bed, and that box held her original name!

Joy Lieberthal aka Kim Young-ja aka Eun-hee aka
Joy Lieberthal was adopted as a young girl from Korea and grew up in a mostly-white populated community outside of New York. When searching for her biological family she came to discover that her original name was changed by the orphanage she was adopted from. The orphanage changed her name purposefully in order to fit the identity of another child who was supposed to have been adopted by the Lieberthals.

Joy grew up bullied and isolated from other Korean Americans. When she attended college, she began to have friendships with other Asians who then asked her to help start an Asian Student Union. She felt like a fraud until, “the international students accepted her as such and thought it was fun to fill in the gaps in her knowledge.”

After graduating from college, Joy went back to volunteer in the orphanage she was adopted from in Korea. There, she began to learn more about her origin story and eventually connected with her birth mother, but “When Joy came back from her time in Korea in the summer of 1994, she was angry—angry at the Korean government for giving so many children away, and angry at the ignorance of the Americans who had told her that she had been rescued, that Korea was poor and backward, that Korean men were abusive.”

Later, after having had returned to the U.S., she joined an organization called Also-Known-As which was started by her friend, Hollee McGinnis. “The mission of Also-Known-As is to build a community that empowers the voices of adult international adoptees, while providing resources and space to acknowledge the loss of birth country, culture, language and biological family.”

Angela Tucker aka Angela Burt aka Jocelyn Kate
The third adoptee featured in MacFarquhar’s article is transracial adoptee, Angela Tucker. You may know Ms. Tucker from her documentary “Closure” which portrays her reunification with her biological family. Angela was raised by white parents in a mostly community near Seattle, Washington.

After graduating from college, Angela became an adoption caseworker and thought that might give her access to her adoption paperwork. She didn’t gain that access at the agency. However, when she was younger, her parents did give her some adoption paperwork that had some important information about Angela’s birth parents and birthplace. Her birth mother’s surname was redacted on that paperwork but years later, Angela’s husband prompted her to look at and re-orient her search around her birth father’s unique name which was Oterious. After this change in search strategy, Angela located her birth parents.

April’s card reads:

“Your name is central and significant to who you are and, in essence, can be the keystone of your identity. When your child is adopted, there’s another world, another narrative, and perhaps another name that accompanies them along with their “who am I?” journey.”

“One thing almost everyone agrees on is that adult adoptees should have the unrestricted right to see their original birth certificates, rather than only the “amended” ones with the names of their adoptive parents (but this is the law in only a dozen states).” An original birth certificate doesn’t only contain one’s first name, but the names of biological parents too. Information on the original birth certificate can divulge one’s roots not just physically, but geographically and ancestrally too.

Had these three women grown up with free access to their original birth certificates, how would it have shaped their “who am I” journeys?

 - Avril McInally no aka

This post is from our April, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

March: Changing the Script on Adoption, Luck and Microaggressions

by Avril McInally

By now, many of you have probably experienced the “Lucky to be adopted” commentaries that society heaps upon adoptees and families formed or extended by adoption. It’s March, I’m thinking about St. Patrick’s Day with its accompanying themes of rainbows, pots of gold and luck.

When I think about luck and I look back on my life, I’m struck by the intrusiveness of luck conversations which began occurring after I adopted my daughter. So many strangers have said to my child, “you’re so lucky to have been adopted!” Sometimes, this commentary would include remarks that my daughter should be grateful for my “rescue” of her. As these assaults accumulated and I learned more about race and racism, I began to view them as microaggressions. As I processed and unpacked more of my daughter’s lived experience, I arrived at the basic fact that luck had nothing to do with her adoption journey at all!

Understanding Microaggressions and Their Impact

Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups. The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.”

This lack of awareness…this obtuseness has caused my children and my daughter’s family of origin cumulative damage and pain. Yet if I were to tell the commenters of the damage they were causing, they often would react defensively. They disregard and have no understanding of our children’s loss of their family of origin and their family of origin’s loss of their child! Luck has no place in adoption.

Taking some liberties with the article “Microaggressions are a big deal: how to talk them out and when to walk away" by Andrew Limbong, I made some edits in order to reflect our particular perspective.

Oftentimes people of color [, adoptees and children] are asked to educate white [non-adopted, adults] people on issues that the person of color [adoptee and child] has lived with and thought about for their entire lives. That can be very psychologically and emotionally exhausting for a person to then have to care about the white [non-adopted and adult] person's feelings and to take those extra efforts so that they can learn something that they should have — and could have — learned throughout the duration of their life.”

Microaggressions from the Perspective of a Transracially-Adopted Child

In most of the literature I've read about microaggressions, the status of the adoptee is not considered. So, I took the liberty (with apologies to the author) of viewing this theme in particular from the perspective of a transracially-adopted child. There’s not a lot written about microaggressions in adoption. That’s why I’m talking about it here and why I’m shining a light on a useful article called “Helping Your Adopted Child Handle Adoption Microaggressions” at Not only does the article identify microaggressions towards adopted children, but it gives some scripts you can rehearse with your child to prepare them for these intrusive comments and questions.

Being Our Children's Allies

At the heart of the matter, we need to be not just our children’s parents, but their allies. When they’re old enough, we can ask them how they would like us to respond in situations like this. Until they’re old enough, it’s up to us to stand up for our children. The adults in these conversations often unwittingly challenge or harm our children’s identities. These conversations are not ok and the children entrusted to us will mature into adults that may still need their elders to stand beside them.

After having read and researched this month’s feature for our newsletter, I’ve come to see the term microaggression is falling from favor. In the book How to Be an Antiracist, author Ibram X. Kendi writes, “I do not use ‘microaggression' anymore. I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts - ‘micro’ and ‘aggression.’ A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term ‘abuse’ because aggression is not as exacting a term.” Dr. Kendi is clearly addressing racism here and not the intersectionality of the adoptive status of our children, but we can call it out for what it is.

These luck conversations and savior conversations are abusive.
Whatever you call “it”, Dear Reader, recognize it for what it is and continue to protect and love your children.

For help starting conversations about the "luck" language with your adopted children, see Preparation: Transracial Adoption: Be Ready! and refer to our post last year, The Luck Code.

What can help is to hold some space for having a conversation with your family about this month’s prompts. The conversation starters on our cards could help when it comes to others’ reactions to our children and families, as well as the ensuing comments of luck and saviorism that may also be aired.

This post is from our March, 2023, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, as well as information about our annual Transracial Journeys Family Camp and our monthly Zoom call to provide support for our transracial adoption parents please subscribe.

February Featured Article

How Do We Balance Love, Black History and the Reality of Police Brutality?

author: Avril McInally

It’s February. Our chronologies and calendars feature both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day (read this month's parent conversation theme, February Intersections: Love and Black History Month). Fresh on our minds, is the recent murder of Tyre Nichols. As we attempt to process the pain and the confusion, we are reminded of how vital it is to the intricacies of the Black experience and celebrate Black excellence every single day of the year. As the world and our media shouts, “love, love, and more love” and “Black history is important and relevant,” we sit with the reality of how urgent it is for white people to be anti-racist and work to truly have empathy for what it means to be a Black person in the world today!

I began writing this column around the release of the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols’ video - January 27, 2023. While sorting out my own complicated thoughts and emotions on whether or not to “witness” the video, I held a twin reckoning of my children’s reactions to seeing the video. How do I do this? How do I hold my own fear and concern while making space for my children’s fears also? Then, my phone blew up with text messages from other parents, who were like me, worried not only about their children seeing the video but also their extended family members of adoption, their friends and the Black community at large. Like them, the concern snowballed quickly from my family, to my community to the more universal community of Black and brown folk living with these brutal conditions of race in America day in and day out! How to love? How to respect? How to protect? How to care? How to have compassion? How to make change? How to engage? These are all questions we can ask ourselves not only at times like this (when, absurdly, the media is celebrating February’s themes of love and Black beauty while simultaneously featuring assaults on Black people), but all year long.

In part 5 of April’s, “How to Love a Transracially Adopted Person”, she writes, “I can’t help but wonder if all of these losses of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters are actually my Black and Brown brothers and sisters. I wonder if I will lose members of my family of origin before I find them. I wonder if they are ok and as I am worrying about them I realize I need people to worry about me and wonder if I am ok. I need my loved ones around me to recognize that these heartbreaking losses hit me different and I am losing part of myself.”

How are you checking in with your children right now? How are you supporting them and listening to them? How are you checking in with the Black and Brown community and showing them support and love too? This awareness and diligence is my forever Valentine to my children and to the people who share their race.

In the words of Nikki Giovanni, remember:

"Some say we are responsible for those we love. Others know we are responsible for those who love us."

This post is from our February, 2023, e-newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe.  You will get invitations to our Parent Meet-Up each month, a virtual meeting to act as a transracial adoption support group - sharing issues, ideas and strategies for creating a culture of communication and curiosity in your home, as well as monthly card prompt to keep the conversations about race, adoption, family, love and relationships front and center all year long.

Create Gates and Doors for Your Family with the Calendar

Happy New Year and happy January! With the dawning of each new year, many of us make pacts or contracts with ourselves to either do or not do something, so we make New Year’s resolutions. The Roman god Janus, for whom the month of January is named, comes to mind. He is depicted as a man with two faces, one face looks forward and the other looks back.

This two-headed depiction of an old, Roman god may resonate with those of us living in families experiencing multiple dualities ourselves. Families like ours, formed by transracial adoption, experience dualities of identity in which there are several intersectionalities. Race, gender expression, religious beliefs, class, disability and adoption are but a few of these intersectionalities.

Janus was also the guardian of gates and doors. He presided over the temple of peace, where the doors were opened only during wartime. It was a place of safety, where new beginnings and resolutions could be forged.” How you manage your gates and doors this year to promote your own temple of peace may take some planning, some resolve or some resolution.

Parenting with the calendar

April gives some great tips for January and nurturing this type of intentionality in her deck of cards: Read January Relationships: Honoring the Whole Family

  • “Think about culturally diverse holidays that can be added [to your calendar] and make a plan to learn about these new holidays together as a family.”
  • “Work together to decide the best way to honor both the fun days and make room to honor and prepare for the harder ones.”

Parenting with the Calendar: Gateways and Doorways

As parents, we manage gateways and doorways constantly. Think about the calendar year ahead, and write down some gateways or doorways you may want to nurture opening, guard and keep closed or crack open a little? How do we purposefully navigate our dualities? Like Janus, how can we look back and how can we look forward? How can we honor, celebrate and mourn as families where we have been and where we are going? Using our calendars to light the way can be a start.

For more ideas about governing your calendar read our previous post, The New Year and Hard Relationships.

This post is from our January, 2023, e-newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe.