Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Child is Color Blind

...And I'm so proud of her.  Jealous, even.  Because I want to be color blind too.

Not color blind in the traditional sense. Not a vision deficiency with warped rods and cones, like poor Chris who, despite being in full denial while simultaneously exercising his Fifth Amendment right on this subject and wearing a pink shirt he insists is white, still had to get special permission from the FAA to pass his pilot physical due to a minor teensy-weensy problem like not being able to tell red from green. 

Ahem.  Excuse me.  RED from GREEN.  In a plane, ya'll.  Do you know how crucially important that is?  Like to tell, say, if the plane 500 feet away from you is barreling toward you at 200 mph or better yet, heading away at 200 mph.  You get my point.  I am unable to put into words the anxiety that gives me.  (Deep breath.  Isaiah 41:10.  Isaiah 41:10...)

No.  Aria is not that type of color blind.  She is blind to skin color.

And I am so glad.

See, she doesn't notice whether the kids in her class are pink, brown, black, or even green as in Hopey's case the other day.  Poor lil' Hopey.  Aria watched Hopey get sick in class last month, and for weeks afterward during bedtime prayers, we had to pray for "Hopey's barf". 

Aria doesn't notice the skin color of others.  The only thing she knows is that the other children are her friends.  In her perfect childlike innocence, she views others how God sees us.  As people.  As souls.  With mercy.  And compassion.

One day, I know this will change.  One day, one terribly sad and heartbreaking day, Aria will realize that her skin is brown and her friends, even her Mommy, Daddy and Sissy, have lighter skin.  This just kills me.  It kills me because for now, for this blessed honeymoon period in her childhood, she is completely oblivious to the differences in other people.  She doesn't know that her eyes, those beautiful chocolate eyes that can see into my soul, are brown to my green.  Or that her fine, black hair, silk that I can't keep myself from stroking whenever she is within arm's reach, is so different from my own brittle (pretend) blonde.

I know it is coming.  Maybe because of how sensitive I am now to any reference to race, color, or ethnicity.  Twice at work in the last few weeks, different colleagues have told jokes implying racial stereotypes, and I've literally felt my skin bristle and my knees go weak with anger and pain.  Not rage towards the unsuspecting, (albeit ignorant) colleagues, but at the big, cruel, insensitive world into which I will one day begrudgingly release my precious innocent baby - my beautiful, open-hearted daughter, who sees everyone for what they are, and not for their 1/4 -inch exterior. 

I don't want to admit this, but I've done my share of racial profiling in my day.  An African-American man near my car in a dark parking lot makes me grip my purse a little tighter.  I observe with raised eyebrow the benign activities of the Persian man three seats in front of me on an airplane.  And I give my little Asian neighbor lady a wide berth when passing each other in the car.

But let me be totally clear:  I DO NOT WANT TO BE THIS WAY.  I want to be more like Aria.  I want to be color blind.  I want to accept people at face value, for their authentic humanity, not their heritage or the color of their skin.

Talking to other adoptive parents, I've had people ask me how my "transracial adoption" is going, and this completely catches me off guard.  Because I don't consider ours a transracial family.  I consider us two people who wanted desperately to be parents and who were inexplicably blessed when our extraordinary Heavenly Father answered the prayer in our hearts and performed the most staggering, inconceivable feat by weaving the threads of our lives together with a baby born 8000 miles away.  She is my perfect child, and I am her (flawed but well-intentioned) mother.

I want Aria to know everything she can about where she came from and how the history of her culture will shape our lives.  I am arranging for us to take Vietnamese lessons together so we can learn to speak the language.  When she is old enough to understand, we will celebrate Tet (the Vietnamese New Year).  One day, we will take a trip to her homeland, so she can understand and respect her heritage. 

For now though, I will cover this face that looks nothing like mine with kisses.  And I will try my best to be more like my daughter. 

Who sees the world as God intended.


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