what makes a family

I've been quiet on the blog more than I like. I'm chalking it up to a busy life and an even busier summer but that doesn't help the feeling that I have so! many! things! that I want to say. So many words just dying to come out. I've been busy on Instagram but that isn't the same.

Tonight I'm making peace with the chaos in my head, the words that are fighting for their chance to come out. Tonight I'm letting other things fall on the back burner for a minute because I need to speak on behalf of my daughter for a minute.

My daughter is black. Well, half. Her blackness doesn't need an apology. It doesn't need you to feign colorblindness and act like you see my skin tone in hers. Families don't have to match. Of all the things that makes a family, nowhere on the list is looking alike. My daughter doesn't look like me and that's okay, because she's my daughter and at the end of the day, our physical likeness plays no role. My daughter is black and her blackness is beautiful and wonderful and nothing that should warrant a stranger to say "maybe she won't get so dark" after inquiring about her ethnicity.

My beautiful sweet baby girl is only four months old and already I've lost count of the comments when I'm out with both children. The stares. And when my husband is with us, oh, the "that poor guy doesn't realize what his wife has been up to" giggles and whispers. When you see a white mother clutching her two babies -- one white, one much darker -- please don't walk up to her and ask her which father she's currently with. Please don't nod and ask "different dads?" with the casualness of someone asking how the weather is outside. Please don't learn my daughter is adopted (a story that Ethan loves to tell) and speak of her as if she's not really mine -- "so, is she addicted to any drugs? Was she, like, okay?" should never leak from your lips. That's my daughter you're speaking about. That's my baby. We are very open about Carmen's adoption and would love to shoot the adoption breeze all the live long day, but please, don't look down at my five year old son and then back up at me and ask me if her birth family can still "come get her if they want." Don't ask if there weren't any white babies available, or if I would have preferred a baby that shared my son's bright, blue eyes and mess of straight brown hair.

My daughter doesn't look like me. She doesn't look a thing like her brother, either. But you should see them together, the way he smiles and baby talks her with a "here I am, Carmie Parmie. Here I am, here's your bruh bruh" in the mornings and the way her face lights up in response. That is what makes a family. The love, the love so thick and powerful, the love that permeates through every inch of our home. That is what makes a family.

At the end of each day, I scroll through Facebook and read the combative posts debating the existence of racism in America. The next morning, I will get up and wait for the next stranger to stop me and inquire if I'm the nanny, or which of my two children is really mine.

They're both mine.

They're both my beautiful, incredible babies. They're the reason that my heart continues to beat each day.

And what makes a family, please believe, is the love that is shared between us. The unbreakable chains of unconditional love and joy and renewal and hope.

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