I am a British international school teacher. My husband is Italian. We are both white. We both grew up in countries whose passport we do not hold and together we have lived and worked in three continents. During our 6 year stay in Tanzania, East Africa, we adopted our children. Now 6 and 8. We are currently living in Singapore. Our kids are in a school of 2000 and there are only 2 other children of African descent in the school. The sense of othering when we are out and about his huge. They have become used to having their hair fondled by strangers on the bus. This is not okay. Both of our kids have come home from school saying "I want to be white" at various points. Their classes are comprised of mostly Chinese Singaporean or Indian Singaporean students with a smattering of other Asian countries represented and maybe at most 5 out of 22 are White Europeans.
Transracial adoption was not unusual amongst the expat community in Tanzania. After being a resident for three years, if you meet various criteria, it is possible to apply to adopt. There is a need- you work with the government social welfare department, and the process is fair and transparent. Children can only be adopted if there is no trace of a family member. And there is a legal requirement for the authorities to look for those family members for 6 months once a child has been found abandoned.
Narratives are key to identity formation and we have always been open and honest with our children about the circumstances of adoption. They have a strong sense of pride in their home country which I intentionally constantly reinforce. My 8 year old has already had to use his knowledge of Tanzania in retorts to kids who have claimed 'All Africans are stupid'.
Our children are loved and savvy but I am acutely aware of the extra strength they require to navigate daily life when out and about. Having white parents is an extra layer for onlookers to navigate too.
Rightly or wrongly- we are keen to move back to subsaharan Africa where our children are not a minority. We have the privilege of that choice so I want to leverage that for their sakes. Is this weak? Should I instead build our collective resilience and confront racism head on? Is it running away? (as a transient uprooted person, home is loosely defined so am not sure this concept stands)..
Worth noting that colorism is very real in Tanzania as it is in most countries. My children have very different skin tones. When I walked with my kids one day, a woman came up to me and said 'ha! I understand why you took him as your child- but why this girl? She is so black!'