From the day we got the call, we have been overwhelmed by the support and excitement of our friends. We’re over the moon about being Teddy’s parents, and our friends are pretty excited for us, too.
We’ve also received unexpected support, specifically from the black community. To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect from our black neighbors and acquaintances. Would we be applauded or scorned? We got our answer almost immediately.
Our Ghanian concierge gave us our first taste of what we could expect. When we brought Teddy home, I was carrying the carrier with Teddy inside, covered with a blanket. I brought him over to the concierge to introduce him, and when I pulled back the blanket for her to see, she saw that Teddy was black.
“You adopted a black baby!” she exclaimed.
“Um, yep,” I replied, not really sure how to respond to that.
“Because we wanted a baby!”
Meanwhile, I’m thinking, are we really having this conversation? Is it ok to have this conversation?
My concierge was truly flabbergasted that we had adopted a black baby. But once she got over her shock, she kept telling Teddy how lucky he was to have us for his parents. And because I hadn’t anticipated this conversation so soon after bringing Teddy home and hadn’t practiced what I’d say, I stumbled over a reply about how we were as lucky.
A couple days later, having finished my shopping early, I was waiting for Mike outside the hardware store, with Teddy in a stroller. A black woman got out of her car to come over to me and look in the stroller, confirming what she had spied from afar: “You adopted a black baby!”
“Yes, we did!” I replied enthusiastically, a wee bit more practiced than before.
The woman explained that she had noticed Mike inside and correctly assumed he was my husband, confirming that we couldn’t have produced this chocolate-skinned cutie ourselves.
She then proceeded to echo our concierge’s sentiments, about how lucky Teddy was. Unfortunately, I had not practiced that answer, although I again mumbled something about needing Teddy as much as he needed us. After a couple more minutes of chit-chat, the woman wished God’s blessings on us and ambled away.
I waited for Mike to come out, still a bit in shock over the encounter.
The next week, I brought Teddy in to Mike’s office for a tour of the government agency’s child care center and to meet Mike’s colleagues. They all oohhed and aahhed over him, passing him around and offering stories about parenting. Later that day, one of Mike’s black colleagues visited his office.
With no introduction, he said to Mike, “It’s really great what you did.”
Mike, baffled, assumed he was talking about something work related. In response to Mike’s look of confusion, the colleague elaborated, “Adopting a black boy. That’s really great of you. Black boys usually get left behind.”
Mike also was unprepared for this sort of conversation opener, but he recovered much better than I had and assured his colleague that Teddy is as much a blessing to us as we are to him. He then mentioned that he welcomed all advice about caring for black skin and hair.
We’re happy to get these sorts of responses. We hope this is the only kind of response we get, although we know that’s probably wishful thinking. But for now, we’ll accept it with appreciation and practice the succinct response another black colleague, friend, and fellow adoptive mother suggested we give when people tell Teddy how lucky he is to have us: “No, we’re the lucky ones.”