Last updated on September 30th, 2021 at 10:17 am
This is a follow-up to Theresa’s amazing story of twin adoption, which you can read here.
It is rare to give birth to twins let alone adopt them. So when my husband and I received a call from our social worker that we had been chosen by a woman to adopt her twin babies, we were, to say the least, excited. She had already given birth and the babies were now in interim care with a foster couple. We had seven days to go from having only one crib to having a house ready for twin newborns.
We had tried to prepare our hearts and minds for anything. We were open to any gender and race and had been told we would likely be adopting transracially because of the ratio of minority children vs. white children being placed in our state. My husband and I are white and I believed I was “ready” for parenting a child of a different race because of all of the research I had done, so when we got the call, I was all in. After a seven day waiting period, we welcomed home African American boy and girl twins. They’ve stolen our hearts ever since!
After a few weeks of staying home with my new family of four, I decided to venture out on my own with the babies. My husband had gone back to work and I was feeling brave. As a parent of multiples, you probably know of this bravery needed! I loaded the babies into their car seats, got in the car and we drove to our local big box store. I unloaded everybody from the car and into the stroller and pushed the buggy through the doors.
Within seconds, the stares began. And the questions and comments from strangers that all moms of multiples hear:
- Are they twins?
- Are they identical?
- How do you even do it?
- Double Trouble
- Better you than me!
But there was one in particular that caught me off guard and made me tear up. A woman came up to me and said, “Are they yours or are they adopted?” In all seriousness, I answered, “They’re mine.” She looked at me like I had four heads but I just smiled and kept walking.
As I was leaving, I tried not to cry. I was so emotional already from the amazement of having adopted such precious babies. But to hear something like that from a complete stranger just cut me. In the adoption world there are also many “trigger” questions and comments as in the twin world. For me some are:
- Are they real brother and sister?
- Do they have the same real mom?
- Where are they from? (Because they must be from another country since they’re black, right?)
- They are so blessed to have you as a mom.
Someday, I think I will respond to that last comment with: Really? I’m a stranger to you, how do you know they are so blessed? Do you say that just because I’m white and they are black? I thought I was “prepared” to parent transracially. I have always wanted to be ready for whatever I encounter in life. Books help. Discussions with transracially adopted adults help. But there is nothing like being in the moment to learn the best lessons.
In the three years of parenting our twins, we have learned so much more about living transracially. As a white couple, we live with certain privileges just because of our skin color. Our parents never had complete strangers tell them how blessed we were simply because of their flesh tone. We’ve never worried or even thought about being followed in a department store. We weren’t taught specific protocols for behavior in the event that we were stopped or questioned by police. Because of this privilege, we didn’t even know these things existed in the year 2014! But they do exist and people of color know them all too well.
My husband and I can take all of the looks, stares and comments. Our skin has toughened. But our kids have never asked for any of this. In a perfect world, they would have been raised by their biological family and there wouldn’t have been a need to experience being taken away from what they knew.
This doesn’t mean I’m not happy to have them in my life. I am fully their mom and I’m ecstatic to be able to raise them! I will probably spoil them too much and be a bit overprotective. I will end each day exhausted from running around with twin three-year olds but I’ll wake up each morning ready to do it again. I will continue to grow and learn what it means to parent transracially and do whatever it takes so that my children, my husband and I will not be colorblind. I want to always acknowledge my kids’ skin color, their cultural background and their beauty and not shy away from it to make others comfortable.
I will bring my kids up to know they were created by the Creator to do great things and they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I hope to instill in them a sense of their true identity as well as compassion for others. I want to equip them with the tools necessary to navigate this world. I love my kids like any mother does: fiercely and protectively; with cheer and gentleness; unconditionally.
Theresa Penev has been very happily married for almost seven years to the love of her life, Ventzie and lives in Southeastern North Carolina. Together they are raising boy and girl three-year-old twins, Iliya and Nadia, who are very active and love to keep mom and dad on their toes. She is a stay-at-home mom and dreams of her family traveling the world someday. Her hobbies include travel, learning about other cultures, and creating new styles for her daughter’s hair.