Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Transracial Adoption from the Eyes of Adoptee, Birth Mom, and Adoptive Mom

August 31, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 35
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Transracial Adoption from the Eyes of Adoptee, Birth Mom, and Adoptive Mom
Show Notes Transcript

Transracial adoption affects all parts of the adoption triad. We will talk today with a transracial adoptee and his birth mom and adopted mom. We will include tips for adoptive parents raising transracially adopted or fostered child.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Adoptee’s experience with transracial adoption 
    • Preschool
    • Elementary years
    • Middle and high school years
      • Code switching
      • Feelings
      • Identity formation
    • College
    • Adulthood
    • Reunion with birth family
    • Birth Father?
  • Birth Mother’s experience with reunion and transracial adoption
    • Her role in identity formation
    • Her feelings on reunion
  • Adoptive Mother’s experience with transracial adoption
  • Tips for adoptive and foster parents

Additional Information:

This podcast is produced  by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

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Welcome everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am both the host of this show as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a Today I am excited we are going to have a panel interview with a transracial adoptee, his birth mom and his adoptive mom. So this is going to be a the second in a series of transracial adoption. Last week you heard the one on trauma and transracial adoption. And so today we're going to be talking about transracial and adoption in the eyes of an adoptee birth mom and adoptive mom. And so this is going to be exciting exciting for me anyway. We will be talking with Kyle Bullock. He is a 31 year old transracial adoptee adopted at nine months for foster care. We will also be talking with Michelle Hubbell. She is Kyle's birth mom, and Ellen Bullock. She is Kyle's adoptive mom. Kyle is a former actor and currently works in sales. Michelle is a mom to two other children who she parented and she served in the military, and has been a delivery driver with FedEx for 23 years. Ellen is a mom to another translationally adopted child and child by birth, as well as being a guardian to an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala, and she is an adoption attorney in Illinois. Welcome Kyle, Michelle and Ellen it to creating a family. Thank you. Thanks for having us. All right. I think just by way of background, let's start by letting each of you share your story. And I'm putting that in air quotes. So you could decide what to include in this part to kind of give us background to help this discussion. Kyle, we'll start with you. Absolutely. So my story. Oh, wow. That gets that can that can take 31 years. And this is not intended to be a therapy session. Just keep that in mind. No, absolutely, absolutely. Um, so my story I was, you know, I was adopted by my adoptive mom. I was born August 13 1990. And I was adopted in May. And I grew up with my with my family. I have two brothers. I have a brother and a sister. I mean, Charlie, and then you know, we we just grew up in this amazing family home loving family home in Champaign, Illinois. I'll fast forward to to the teenage years, I was going through a lot of things, a lot of questions about identity, who I am as a person, because I didn't know essentially where it came from. Right. And my grandma suggested that we watch this movie called Antoine Fisher. I said, Great. Let's watch it. Okay, it's gonna be fine Movie Night. I'm 15 Do I really want to do this? And, and, and I did it. And it ended up being an amazing experience. Because by the end of it, I was I was bawling my eyes out. And the next day I, I told myself, I was just going to find my birth mom. And hopefully some of the listeners remember, MySpace was big. And so I had my mom's first and last name, Michelle Hubbell and her location, Peoria, Illinois. I plug that into my space and three people popped up. And I decided to message the first one and said, Hey, my name is Kyle Bullock from Champaign. I was born in Peoria. Are you my birth? Mom? If you are, Hey, how are you? If you aren't, I am sorry for the mistake. Not mistake, but but interrupting your day. And I hope you're well. And so I waited about, you know, 2030 minutes. And lo and behold, I ended up getting a message back and she said, Yes, I am. It's been a wonderful and beautiful experience. And I've definitely been blessed and have completed this this puzzle of of my life.

Did you involve your adoptive parents in the decision? Or did you make this on your own without consulting them? So I told them, I, you know, we watched the movie. And at the end of the movie, in my mind, I knew I was going to fight. I was going to look for him the next day. And the next day I told him, Hey, Mom, Dad, I'm going to look for my birth parents or my birth mom. And my dad said, okay, so dad, kind of your computer. They went to church, and then that's when I started doing my search. Okay, excellent. All right. Michelle, can you tell us your part of this of the story? Hi, thank you for having me. I was 14 and I knew that when I became pregnant and gave birth to him August 13. I knew I was too young. So I made the decision to give him up for adoption. And I remember they gave me three pictures of him as a baby that I kept. had in my diary and fast forward to 2006 I'm in the middle of the war zone. I was serving with the Navy

I mseb So we were in Iraq and just got finished. And I was online talking with a friend and a message on MySpace popped up. And I knew immediately who it was. And I, I pause for a minute and I started asking him just random questions and stalking his MySpace page trying to see all the information because I already knew who it was. And you can tell he was a little impatient. He's like, okay, you know, sorry, about, you know, enough of the questions. Are you her or not?

Yes, I am. And we developed a relationship online. And when I made it back home, we ended up meeting at a neutral place. And it's been love ever since. That is cool. Did you? Were you aware of who his parents were? Did you have a did you relinquish him to foster care? Is that how that work? No, I just, I didn't know anything. I didn't know he was in foster care. I just signed the papers at the courthouse. I knew he was going up for adoption. But I had no details. I had nothing. I knew. You knew nothing, nothing. Okay. Oh, um, can you tell us your story by way of background? You know, this is lovely experience. Thank you. But one of the nicest things about us, I'm learning something, as Michelle and Kyle are talking even right this minute, that I didn't know, I know, the pictures, that little baby pictures that Michelle is referring to, but I didn't know she kept them all those years. So that's kind of for me, what this adds up to there were just these wonderful people. Of course, everybody always says and it's 100% true, that a birth family gives their child to an adoptive family. I always believe that and that's wonderful. But in addition, Michelle has given me so much more my my wonderful son, but also, Michelle and I are friends when that connection happened between Michelle and Kyle. Then the next connection it was a little while later was between Michelle and the rest of our family. And it has just been a lovely friendship. She gives me so much. Back to Kyle's original adoption. I didn't know much about Michelle and I didn't know much about adoption law. I was a younger woman, obviously. I didn't have any children. Kyle was my first so everything about it was exciting. Everything about it was just wonderful. And he was the cutest baby. The pictures Michelle treasured are the same ones that I treasured. And same ones I saw. He was just a wonderful child. And we did have a really happy home. I'm glad Kyle, thanks. So he forgot to mention his dad. And so who might be listening. So hi, Dad. Sorry, dad.

I was going to I was thinking I'm pretty sure that

mom and dad but I wasn't gonna say that. Okay. Anyways, when Kyle was born, I started learning about adoption, obviously didn't know anything, as much of them as I do now. And when he found Michelle, when he was 16, that was really just his choice. But it was a really good choice. And that has been an enrichment to his life, but also much more to our family. Cool. All right. So we're gonna be focusing on transracial adoption. But as we focus on transracial adoption, the fact that that Kyle and Michelle are in Reunion obviously influences this the conversation. So we want to keep circling back to the reunion aspect. So Kyle, since we believe here at creating a family that that the adopted person needs to be the center of all of what we're doing, as well. So we're gonna spend more time talking about you to hear your experience. So then we'll come back to Michelle and an Ellen later. But let's start with you. I'm really interested in your experience with transracial. As you said, you were a black child with white parents, you had a black sister and a and a white brother. So let's talk about it. It's hard to ask about the preschool years, you probably don't even remember some of them. But if you anything you can share that about what being a transracial adoptee meant for you. We're kind of trying to get it we're going to come go through the ages because I I believe that the experience for many people differs depending on their age. So kind of general is kind of ages and stages of development. So starting as your preschool years, do you have any memories? It was transracial the fact that you weren't the same race as your parents and issue at all for you. Yeah, so that's, that's a good that's a good point in question. Surprising, I've have pretty good memory, as you know, my mom can can attest to so I remember even in preschool, getting asked, you know,

you're black and you're your mom's white. How does that you know what's going on? And, you know, I they told me that

early, you know, you were adopted. And so that's that was my answer. I was like, Oh, I was adopted. And then that was it, there was no discussion about it, because I didn't really understand. And as a, as a preschooler or even in grade school, I didn't understand what that truly meant.

It was tough. In the early years in the preschool years, are we gonna, you're talking now about elementary or when was it? When did it get tough? Even in preschool, but it really started in kindergarten in first grade, and then it moved all the way to high school, and even sometimes today, how was it tough? And what ways it will come to the later has been in the early right, how was it tough being a different race from your mom and your dad? Because So kids are very, very smart, which I'm starting to learn. And they, they can spot differences, and they ask questions, and when as a kid, if you don't really know the answer, for me, at least, if I really didn't understand the question, or understand what they're asking, I would get frustrated. And so they would, they would say, you know, again, your mom's white or your black How does that work? Or, or you can't hang out or another one was, you can't hang out with us, because, you know, you don't you don't talk black, whatever that means, right? You don't, whatever that means, right? And, or in the white kids would say, Oh, well, you know, you're not white, so you can't hang out, hang out with us either. So I was in this, this middle ground area. And I had to, I had to

pave my own way. In doing that alone in doing that. And I had I had a solid, you know, core group of friends. But still doing that alone and not having you know, that supportive friends because friends are everything, to me, friends are everything, especially in those younger years. That was tough. That was a challenging part.

Alright, so the not having, not knowing which lane you're in our society that we divide in lanes and not knowing which lane was yours. And, and having to kind of create your, your own path. Did one would assume middle school would be tough. In my experience, middle school, is of all ages, the toughest one, but but not for everyone did was middle school or high school, did things start changing? Or was that continue to be an issue of not not knowing where you belong? Absolutely. So I would Middle School, things were pretty stagnant in middle school, um, for me until maybe eighth grade, the end of eighth grade. That's when I started getting really curious. As to okay, I look this way like we need we need answers like I would, I would like to see answers. And so Middle School is when I started really thinking about it. And then high school is when it really evolved freshman year was was fine. But sophomore year, I was 16 years old. You know, as a 16 year old, you're going through, you know, all these hormones and all these thoughts and just everything is changing so quickly and fast. And not only that, I'm also dealing with identity is who I am. Right? I'm also dealing with the fact that I am adopted. I don't know my birth parents. I don't know my birth family. I don't know where I'm, I know where I'm from. But it's it's extremely difficult to pinpoint the specific thing, right, if you're if you're, you know, my brother Charlie, you know, US born and he's my mom's birth son. He can he can people okay, um, this is my mom, right? This is my birth mom. But for me, I said, Okay, this is my mom is my adoptive mom, but we don't look alike. So how what's, where is my, where's my other half of the family? Because I knew I had another half. I knew I had another side. Where are they? And so that's when around the end of middle school slash High School. That's when I started having to have these questions and thoughts, and ideas and feelings. Okay, and I'm going to come back to that to talk more about the reunion. I'm going to go back to, I should mention that there is a documentary a very short documentary, I wished it was longer by NBC News. I was like, when it came to an end, I was like dead gum. They've just barely touching the surface. I want them to go back. But there is a and we will link to that in the show notes. So we will link to that. But in the in the documentary you talked about in high school, becoming very proficient at code switching, being able to fit well, it sounded like you fit well in both lanes. You could hang with the black kids because you had figured out how to switch and be accepted there. But at the same time, you were able to be with the white with the white clicks as well. talk some about that because how did you Well, I think we all know that Code switching is almost intuitive that we pick that up but not everybody does. So by high school were you able Did you feel like you could

could be in both crowds and be accepted? Or did you still feel like an outsider in both crowds? Absolutely. That's a great question. So I, I would say I perfected it by seventh or eighth grade. And I can I could code switch in between each race. My parents did a wonderful job of instilling black male figures into my life by sending me to Canaan Academy, which was a predominantly black private school that went to from fifth grade to sixth, fifth grade and sixth grade. My dad, instead of having me play on the, on the neighborhood baseball team that was right across the street from us that was predominantly white, he took us to frustratingly which was in lower income area of champagne. And I played with predominantly black kids. So I picked up on on on the language and tone very, very early. And so again, by by high school, or by the middle of middle school slash high school I was I perfected it

excellently that's and we'll come to that the end, we're going to give tips for parents and, and you just set a very important one.

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All right, so now let's talk about identity formation. And I mean, there are many things that make up our identity race is only one of them. But race is an important one. And in particularly for a transracial adoptee. Was it a struggle for you to

identify as a black youth and now as a black man, or or was that easier for you? Because you had had so many role models? That is, that is a tough question, we can definitely spend five hours on that. Initially, it was tough. Because my my part of my identity was, I hate to say this, but part of my identity was white dominated because I am in a predominately white family. And so

I could see, I could see that side, I could, I don't know how to describe I could see that side. But then also I did have black friends. And so I was able to start carving out my own states, again, black identity, and understand the world from that side as well. My parents did a really again, they did a really good job at saying you know, police brutality was a was a thing. And they from very early on, they said okay, if they understood that people of color get stopped more frequently than non people of color, so white people and very early on so from kindergarten on they said if a cop stops you this way you say this will you do? And so I had that part, in my mind. And so as I got older, I was able to take notes and ideas from my from my mom and then from my friends as well and culminate that into the person that I am today. Okay, and that was a process. I take it. Yes. And do you feel now that that identity is firmly set at the ripe old age of 31? Can't ripe old age? Yeah.

Yeah, yes, I do. But at the same time I'm I'm also learning different things every day, right? As humans we don't we don't just say okay, this we are this our identity and then we go on with life. Right? We we grow every single day. And so I'm constantly learning new things, or growing on things that I've already learned and and have gotten.

And so for it sounds like now I'm going to talk some about the reunion with your birth mom. And it sounds was that whether that reunion play into your identity formation and your understanding of yourself as a black man or time or a black young man, right? It I describe it as this whenever I'm talking to people about it. It's like you're doing a 5000 piece puzzle, right? Which is your life or which is your your identity, whatever you want to call it. And you put this puzzle together, you know, okay, so this is why I am, you know, this is another thing, this is what I like is what I don't like and I'm starting to see this picture of Kyle, and I'm missing one piece and that's my, that's my birth family. Right? I don't I don't have any idea where they are in that so that piece is missing. And then that were you

union that I had with my eye. It was as if you know, the stars aligned and it was hole, right. And so I put that piece together and boom, that's what I have. And then I'm starting another piece. And then I'm starting another puzzle, right? I'm meeting the family members, I'm talking to mom all the time. And, you know, we go on trips, and you know, all these things, to help me understand who I am as a man. And, you know, where do I get my athleticism from? Right? Where did where did I get my humor from? Or smile like these? It's just little things that make you who you are. And I'm starting to finally see this, this amazing picture come together.

And, and it sounds like, without having, I mean, I certainly would be possible without having Michelle's influence and Michelle's presence, but But it sounds like having that presence has helped in your district racial identity, but your identity as who you are as a person. Absolutely, absolutely. 100%. Because again, if I, if I hadn't found her, and, you know, it's, it's now 2022. And I think I wouldn't I would not be in the place I am today, if I hadn't founder. That's probably as simple as that is I can put it and share only to the degree that you're interested in sharing. But have you connected with your birth father? Or is that not a piece that you are? That that that piece was not when you need it to help identify? I know, I know who he is. I've I've spoken to him very briefly early on. But that's not a piece. That's, to me, that's not a piece. It's very important to me. It's important, but I have more of a connection with my birth mom. And that's, in my mind. That's the one that's most important. And the one I care about the most. How about your birth siblings, because you have two birth siblings,

and then to two adopted siblings, so yeah, how does that how does that because family is family. And so we're how does that not just your mom she comes with? Yes. Oh, yeah. Right. No, it's fun. I like having more than one sibling and I'm the oldest so I feel like I'm watching over you know, these these my family? No, I'm Charlie. Mom. How old is Charlie? Again? Charlie is 27. I'm he's 30. Devin is 25. Is that right? Michelle? 26, and then Chloe's 11. So, no, it's great. I think the older I get, the more I I, I connect with them. And I talked to him. Obviously, he's a teenager, you're like, I just want to be by myself, right? But now that I'm older I like, you know, I talked to I message Devin on on Snapchat, or we text I talked to Chloe, Chloe even stay with me here in Chicago. And we just got to hang out. And I got to see my my baby sister, right. And there's so many different qualities that we both share. I mean, she lives here in Chicago, and so with her husband, and so we sometimes, you know, text back and forth and talk and then we see each other sometimes. And then my brother Charlie, he's in Springfield right now. And we, you know, we talk in text here. So it's nice to be be able to have constant communication with my siblings. I think it's important. Yeah, you're fortunate that Well, you may or may not. You have four younger siblings. So yeah. Watch out for

a mixed blessing for sure. Yeah. Okay. Now, Michelle, I want to turn to talk to you. First, I want to talk to you about two things one reunion, and the second reunion of a child who had been adopted transracial you but first, and I and I think it's interesting that you did not sometimes that we have situations within domestic infant adoption, where the birth mom chooses a white family to parent her child. So yours wasn't a conscious choice effect until he connected until connected with you. Were you aware that he had been adopted by a white family? I had no information and I didn't know anything, any details whatsoever. Got it. Okay. So first, let's just talk about reunion in general. The fact that you were in war and add in a war and and a war zone at the time he reached out as a certain amount of complexity.

If nothing else, you couldn't, you couldn't actually get together to you got back stateside. But anyway, so Had you thought that you would ever have a relationship with the child who had given up for adoption placed for adoption? I did. I'm a firm believer and everything happens for a reason. And I left the door open for my information, should he choose to find me that he would be able to find

Me. So deep down when I gave him up for adoption, I knew that he would find me at some point in time. Gotcha. Which probably helped you anticipate when you when When? When he reached out you were not? It wasn't a total surprise to you? Yeah. Well, it's probably fortunate considering where you were at. So from your standpoint, what has reunion meant for, for you, and for you?

Not to be presumptuous that you needed healing. But I think that placing a child for adoption leaves a gap for many women are many parents, I should say. So did reunion impact you from that perspective? It did you I've always, I always wondered what happened. And you do hear a lot of stories about things, you know, in foster care or adoption, you know, kids that get lost in the system. So there was a part of me that always wondered what had happened. So when he reached out, and you know, I looked through his MySpace, and I was like, hey, good, good family, great family. I'm so happy, literally an hour and a half away. And it was it was exciting to finally come face to face. I actually brought Devin who was young at the time, I think it was maybe seven with me and explain to him, you know that I gave him a child up for adoption. So when we got there was a basketball game. So I wanted to meet on a neutral ground. And there was a basketball game. And first thing Devin says, and he says it loud. Which one's my brother? And I'm like, the only black kid on the team, but

okay, thank Devin.

But they clicked immediately and, and Devin understood and from like I said, from that day on, it's been love. It's been like Kyle, explain a part of a puzzle piece is finally there and made whole. And how did your extended family your parents or brothers sisters, and how did they respond to this reunion?

All of them expanded positively. My mom was she was inducted into the African American Hall of Fame here in Peoria, Illinois. She was a firefighter as far as African American woman.

And she included him and all the family and I just remember all of us were sitting, and they're like, okay, and you are because he was in the program. And he's like, you know, I'm Devon's brother. And they're like, Okay, yeah, I got the same Das. And I'm like, no, and then everybody looked at me, I said, Well, hey

my business, and like my son, this is what happened. And literally, not a beat was skipped. And he was like, okay, cool. Well, tell us about yourself. I mean, it was all love. You know, everybody has been supportive. And I just love having an extended family. You know, we meet together, we try to do Christmas lunch dinner together. I again, I work for FedEx. So it's usually after Christmas. We try and all meet up. And thank you for your deliveries. Thank you. When you're working, the rest of us are really dependent on it. And we're really appreciative. Yeah, I'm dependent on it to

its amazon prime time now and I have been online quite a bit, but Oh, okay. There you go. Yes. Now, let's talk about the trans racial aspect. Was that something that again, because you didn't choose that? Was that did that did that worry you? Did that give you a pause? Or were you just happy that he was had been raised, but looked like I mean, you didn't know yet, but it looked like he had came from a loving family. My main concern was that he was raised in a loving family. I was raised with, you know, people of all colors. So I'd never, you know, him being raised by a white family didn't affect me. I was just glad that he was raised in a loving family, a loving home.


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So, Ellen, now your experience with transracial adoption, you have two translationally adopted kids. So, thoughts on the experience from an adoptive parents standpoint? Well, you learn, as Michelle and Kyla boatman kind of speaking, you learn as you go, and you develop as you go. Now, it would be sort of nice to say that the transracial part was easy, because I, you know, the adoption part was, in some ways, easy and wonderful and just brilliant, the translational part, not as much. And that's because society is divided. And there are these issues. And I have to say, sometimes I want them to go away really badly, I just want them to go away. And of course, that's what we all want. But that's the part that makes them so hard to deal with, they don't go away. So that transracial part it was at sometimes it felt safer and better and happier. And like there were more positive things we could do. I remember when Barack Obama was elected president, it felt exciting, it felt like now everybody will be part of a trans racial, family, political family and nation. But you know, other times the transformational part has just come right up and knocked on our door, you know, as a white person, you can say, oh, no, it's not that racist, that really must not have been, you know, there really aren't white supremacists out there, there really are nasty people that's just in the past. You just can't say that anymore when you're part of a multiracial family. And you have to instead, understand the depth of racism and understand how hard it is for your child, or your child's birth mother for whoever it is out there that our society has inflicted this horrible thing on racism. And I can't tell you how that's been a life long journey that started with you know, I'm sure it started earlier, but that with the inclusion of Kyle and our family, it was never ever, ever going to be okay, again, to just say, Oh, maybe it's not so bad. Maybe it's fine. Maybe we'll all get along. From that day forward. It had to be man, my whole life is devoted to making our society more equal for all races in and that's what I've done.

So you said that the racial issues came knocking on your door? I think that was a figurative figure of speech. But can you give us examples from raising Kyle or his translationally adopted sister of issues that have forced forced you to come to the realization of, of parenting differently or doing things differently or anything along those lines?

Well, the first one, the the types of things that we've done that Kyle started to mention that have been wonderful because they've made me acquainted with African American culture within my own community within different communities. Hi, I went to Canaan Academy, which was an African American school. I loved Kane and Academy. He we had a Crayola Club, which was for multiracial families. And that met for years and the kids are still friends and the adults are still friends. Kyle played little league on on African American team, David, my husband coached. And then, you know, the most one of the most important ones has been the reunion with Michelle, and Devin and Chloe, because they have, of course, fit the puzzle piece into the identity, but also into race. They've been teaching us and be about racism. I, I know police brutality, Kyle said very nicely that we understood police brutality, yeah, enough to teach it to a child that it was a danger. That doesn't mean you understand it, and I'm a lawyer. So I have thought over and over again about the meaning of the constitutional clause equal protection of the law. And if law enforcement which is the police cannot equally protect their suspects, some of them innocent, obviously, then there is no equal protection of the law. And that's a very, very alarming thought for a lawyer. So we as a family, and Kyle has taught me Michelle has taught me and you know, police brutality is unequal protection of the law and that is something that I will fight till the day I die. It does come knocking on your door I don't want to microaggressions are not my thing. I don't care that much about microaggressions. I understand what

They are. There's so many macro aggressions that I don't really think microaggressions are important. But people would when the kids were little, and I always felt a little bit of a little bit of safety when the kids were little, because, you know, they don't understand. But you know, it doesn't. Kyle said, kids are smart, and his sister Amy is even smarter. And they all are smart. They're

smart, like little sponges, every single thing that happens, they are there when it happens. And they understand. If they don't understand in their head, they understand it in their kind of little souls and hearts. So every time there was a situation where race was an object, and there are situations like that, then I would wonder what is that little head and heart thinking? And then I would also wonder, you know, what can my big head and heart do to make it better? Because in school, like some of the things Kyle saying about school, I'm not there at school, but you know, it is it is what Michelle said was actually interesting, too, though, you know, Kyle's the only black kid on the team, that can be for a child a really different experience. Right? Kyle was always a good athlete. So whatever team he was on was glad to happen. So you have that sort of protection. But what about the kids that aren't good athletes? You know? And what about the meanness in other kids that can go racially or non racially, but boy, does that hurt when it's racial? And my kids all face that in different ways? And it's, of course, it breaks a mother's heart, but when it's racial, and even breaks it more, because sometimes I thought, that little white child, that's been mean to my little black child, I thought, Oh, my goodness, what are they going through at home? What on earth are they being taught because they're being taught things that aren't true and are very dangerous. And I'm the adults here, and I can tell, but as a parent to confront a five year old, you know, what do you say to a five year old, excuse me, don't behave like that. You know, sometimes I could engage the five year old caretaker white caretaker in a conversation. And I would do that sometimes. But you know, it's just hard. It's a product of our society. And I, I always wanted to protect my children, black and white, but I never wanted to hurt somebody else's child. So I think we have to, as a society, teach all those children better. And I know that's a broad, please. But that's my plea, that transracial adoption in my family would lead me and everybody else to treat our children, all of them as one big trans racial family, because that's what we are. When prior to adopting Kyle, were you led to believe that love was enough at colored risk, close your eyes to color treat them, treat them as your own love them as your own? And everything would be okay. That was certainly the predominant thinking. I don't know if it was 31 years ago, but it was certainly the predominant thinking for a while. We certainly don't think that now but but we did back then. But is that what you entered this with? The idea of?

Ah, yeah, I got that. I thought it was kind of bad advice. Even at the time, it didn't seem like very good advice. But yeah, that was more prevalent back back then. You know, one other thing I'll say Michelle represents one of many people, she's probably the most important. African American people sometimes build bridges back towards transracial families, multiracial families. And that is so appreciated. And people do that sometimes. And I I'm not saying everybody has to I'm not saying it's their job to do it every minute. But that is a really appreciated thing. And that is just worth a million bucks. And it has happened over the years and it's something I've really appreciated. Michelle is a good example. I'm his birth mom is a good example. And then hundreds of others teachers and friends are good examples. Okay, let's what I like now to in the remaining time I'd like to talk about tips for adoptive foster families. And and in two areas. One, I want to start with tips for reunion. And then I want to talk about tips for raising a translationally adopted child but let's start with reunion. And, Michelle, I'd like to begin with you. Any if you had words for adoptive parents, then this is when I shouldn't have said foster because reunion really reunification is actually the goal of foster care. So that's expected and should be built into every placement.

But adoption not so much. And so any thoughts that you could share with our audience which is predominantly adoptive and foster parents, so in for adoptive parents on, I think a lot of adoptive parents fear reunion and honestly, they fear it because they're afraid of losing their child. If they they may come up with other, they often will use other things, but I just don't know if it's safe or I don't know, think they're ready for it. But the truth is, I think if you dig just very scratch the surface very much. I think it's fear. It's fear driven, their fear of of that they're going to be replaced. So any thoughts? And then Kyle, I'd like to hear your thoughts on tips for parents for reunion. But first you, Michelle? Wow. As far as reunions, I just think that if the child says that they're ready, then support them, you know, be open to it. I know that not every story is like ours, I know that, you know, reaching out to a birth parent, you know, might not end up like this, but just support the adoptee, you know, support their choice of seeking out their birth family, and just, you know, pray on it and stand by their side, regardless of the outcome. I would say don't be afraid because at the end of the day, I think the birth parent is afraid as well. And describe that fear, because I think you're right. And I think adoptive parents don't often think of it what is in the fear on the other side for the birth parent. I think for me, I knew that he had a wonderful family. So I was afraid of coming in. And I don't want to say take the place of her of Ellen. But like immediately he called me ma. And I was like, you know, she got to be okay with that. So it made me kind of fear because I can't replace what she means to him. She is an amazing mom, and amazing woman. But I felt some trepidation, you know, for him to call me that. But then I was we were on vacation, I took Kyle and my friend she was she was like, You don't mean to buy it. You know, that's, you know, his your mom and MA. And that's mom. I mean, there's two different levels to that. And after that talk with her, I was like, Okay, I know, he's not trying to replace me, have me replace her. It was just what he called me. And that's what I've been called ever since. So I just think that while the adoptive parent has fear, so does the birth parent. Did you end up that the naming issue is an interesting one. And I should have thought to ask it. Because that always comes up. Did you and Elon talk about it? Or did I'll just make the decision? And was he calling you what Devin called you? I believe so. Okay, yeah, he might be able to answer that I had my phone jump. Was that I mean, how what to call your birth mother in a reunion is a sticky wicket for a lot of people. So apparently, you just jumped in there and solve the problem on your own. But was that a thought process? Or did it just happen? Initially, initially, it was because I was like, what, how do I go about? Yes. And then. And then I heard Devin, my brother, you know, say Oh, ma and I was like, Okay, got it. Done. I'm just gonna do it. Um, because because she is right. So, so why

yes, it's nerve wracking because it's someone new, but why beat around the bush when it's family? That's, that's that's how that's that was my mindset. And I've like like Matt said, I've I've stuck with that ever since Elon was that hard for you?

Know, it wasn't in I didn't have the fears that Michelle is rightfully talking about. Because I think it's a it's a real, you know, somebody replacing names mean something and somebody replacing it is, yeah, can can be a big deal. Yes, a little code switching going on here. I'm learning as I go. I don't think I knew probably right away that he did call Michelle Ma. And then

that might have

been a little code switching within the family type thing. And that might have worked just fine. Right. I don't know that. I wouldn't mind it, but it I think it was handled a little gracefully by Kyle. So I think that one thing Kyle does, and he does it really well, which is nice. That helps the adoptive mom just like I'm sure it helps the birth mom is he's just very loving and loyal to everybody, you know, even grandparents and siblings and things like that. So I think that helps everybody feel better, too and strong. Because he's making everybody aware that he he's loyal on all sides, which might be hard for him. He can speak for himself. I was gonna ask. That seems like that could be a burden, Kyle. Yes.

It can be because you know, you want to love everybody you want to make sure your families is taken care of and that people don't get felt left out or they're feeling right. Right. Absolutely. But you know, there are people there are my friends. There are some friends that consider family my, to my really, really close dear friends, Jordan Johnson and my buddy Frankie MacFarlane live in Chicago, and they I have known them. I've known Jordan since preschool. And I've known Frankie since elementary school. So, I wish I would have talked about that earlier. But um, they they helped me through, you know, the tough times that I had in middle in grade school, middle school in high school as well. So I would give them all 100 cent credit and there was they connected to how did they connect with you through family? Were they were friends or your family? Yeah, yeah. So free. Yeah. So Jordan, Jordan Johnson, we grew up. It was maybe a five minute bike ride, it was to his place. His family always welcomed me with open arms. His older sister and Alexis who, you know, we all played together and played soccer together. And Betsy and John are amazing. Parents. Jordan now has a wonderful girlfriend and two beautiful kids court Ronan. Um, so I babysit them. And then Frankie, we played baseball together. Me Frankie, and Jordan, actually were on the same team. And so

same his folks didn't, you know, welcomed me with open arms. They just saw me as another friend, another human being and all showing love, and having deep friendships make absolutely.

I want to tell you about one of our partners and it's through their support that we were able to bring you this show. That partner is adoptions from the heart. adoptions from the heart was founded by an adoptee it is now celebrating 35 years of bringing families together through adoption. They are a full service domestic infant adoption agency specializing in open adoptions. You can see adoptive parents and birth parents share their stories on a f t h TV, which airs Tuesday mornings, you can follow adoptions from the heart on Facebook and YouTube to catch every episode.

Alright, so in our remaining time, let's talk about tips for adoptive parents and foster parents will include them on this one, if you are raising a child of a different race, and I'm going to circle back to some that and this is going to primarily Michelle, I'm not trying to leave you out. So make sure if you have any thoughts speak up. But I'm going to Oh, she does good. Well, great. Okay, then I'm bringing you back.

One that Kyle already mentioned that I want to reiterate is his parents made sure he had black and role models, but in particular black piece of male, so black male role model. So that was something they did, and they they didn't, they didn't just settle for the fact that the team with the closest team with the most convenient and they had three kids, and I'm telling you, I'm a mom of four, I'd get it where you would make okay, you know, it's just easier, we could go across the street, or I could get in the car and slept them to another team. They made the extra effort. And there are other ways to do that joining a black church, a predominantly black church doing a school as that they did as well. So that went out. We'll get that off the table. Let's say I'm just going to go around. And we're going to again, Kyle, we'll start with you tips for other that I gave your first one. So I'm putting the burden on you to come up with the second. Great, yeah, that's what I call when I'm centering the adoptee.

It's always a mixed blessing there. Right? So the what's a tip you would give parents who are raising a translationally adopted child? I would say I would say first and foremost, before you're raising a child, if you want to do transracial adoption, do the due diligence. And understand that it's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows is a it's a tough world. People are mean sadly. And it's going to be hard and you're going to get questions. So be ready to answer the questions fully. And then you know, lastly and which is also so important is make sure you if you have other kids that are adopted love them equally. Because I've seen times where kids are in it destroys them. So love them unconditionally. Just like you would love your your your birth your birth kids. Yeah, that's that's the advice I would give them. All right, Michelle, you're up. Yes, I would say references representation is everything. So along with you know the easy things as far as black or brown dolls or toys books with black and brown faces, take them to the beauty shop, take them to the barber shop because there's something about a young black or brown child going into a salon and getting

their hair done properly is different textures learn how to do their hair. Something as simple as wearing sunblock, yes, black people burned I've ever heard. Oh, sunblock lotion, these are little things that, you know, a white family might not think of that, you know, black families, black kids do need. And also Boys and Girls Club or your local urban league, you know, that falls in line with seeking out different baseball, like you said, went to a baseball team, but different organizations, so they can get a whole view of, you know, their other their African American roots.

And someone has mentioned once that we tend to focus on the the negative the prejudice and the racism against but that there's so much to celebrate and that we need to we need to surround them with people who are focusing on the celebration, all that is good and exciting and unique to their heritage as opposed to just some of the hard parts that I've always thought that was such good advice. Okay, Ellen, you. You're going to close this out here. Yep. Ditto everything that Michelle and Kyle said, Because absolutely 100% agree with it and eat them what you said to Don about focusing on the the exciting and vibrant parts of the culture. So I did oh, everything. I'll give a couple examples of some of those. My extended family has become more multiracial, as Kyle has grown up. Other children have been adopted and interracial marriages. I think that all of those are ways that everybody gets more experienced with everybody else and gets more knowledge and more wisdom and more awareness. And that's always really good. So that has happened, it probably Kyle doesn't even really realize that because that's happened over the years, he's been growing up. And I think that reflects our culture in general. And I think that's a good thing, the more that our culture becomes a multiracial culture. And so I think to take advantage of that, I think transracial adoption, families can take advantage of what's happening in the culture, which is that it's growing more multiracial. And I think that's a good thing to take advantage of. And so and then Michelle gives me advice. Every time we've been on a couple of these panels, I pass on her advice to my adoption clients, about the hair, the skin, the beauty shop, those are no small things, you could think they were small things when you're thinking but they're not. And she's given those pieces of advice. And those are really good pieces of advice. The friends Kyle was talking about were African American friends, of course, they were boys when I first knew them, now they're men. And you know, that is just, you can find friends anywhere, right? You can just we all do, we can find friends anywhere. So just keep finding them keep finding friends. And Michelle obviously is not hesitant to find friends. Actually, I think that's one thing that Michelle and Kyle share. They're outgoing, they're extroverted, they can talk to anybody, they can smile, within a minute, make you feel comfortable. So those are things you can share outwards. And I mentioned before, that you can also accept inwards as a family, I have gotten people walking up to me at a shop or a pool to say, Oh, your child is very beautiful. She would look good if she had this and you know, did this to her hair or something. So you can accept, I think from people and people you can also give to people and I really mean that for transracial adoption. And those African American young man that Kyle was mentioning, did give so much to him. And I always appreciate that Michelle has given so much to our family. And I always appreciate that. So I always tell my clients, I pass on these words of wisdom to my clients. So I hope that I've been able to spread the good words that way too. And Kyle has indicated that he would like to be a resource to other transracial adoptees or transracial adoptive parents. We will include his social media contact information in the show notes, so feel free to reach out to him. Well, thank you so much. Kyle Bullock, Michelle Hubbell and Ellen Bullock for being with us today to talk about transracial adoption from your each of your unique perspectives transracial adoption and reunion from your unique perspective. So thank you so much. I truly appreciate

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