Having strangers disapprove of Emma is one thing. Having a close family member unhappy with my decision is something completely different.

My dad is a bit of an old-skool racist. There I said it. Phew, it feels good to get it off my chest. I remember as a young girl bringing a pitch black puppy home from the SPCA and introducing it to my dad as his black grand-child. His rather stinging answer is as loud and as clear now as it was back then. “I hope that’s the only black grandchild I ever have” he said.

Whether it was to piss him off way back then or a premonition, I always tell my mom I was going to adopt a black baby when I was older. Even then I was bit of a do-gooder, always believing in fairness for all and despising any kind of injustice. While still at school I remember asking my dad if I could go to WITS. “No way,” he said, “I’m not watching you get arrested on the 8 o’ clock news with all those other lefties.” I thought he was referring to left-handed people and couldn’t understand why they, along with ‘gingers’ were so marginalized.

My dad doesn’t burn crosses on people’s lawns nor does he walk around the house in a white gown with a pointy hat. He’s not a cruel man and I would say that he is also for fairness and equality. But he’s ideas of equality don’t quite match mine. And to this day he cannot accept Emma. Family get-togethers are difficult because he doesn’t see her. At all. He doesn’t acknowledge. When she was sick in hospital my mom obviously forced my dad to show some concern by calling us to see how she was doing. “How’s the baby?” he asked under duress.

When I miscarried Mark was away. At the worst time in the world he was on the other end of it. With a time difference of eight hours I had to wait for what seemed like forever to let him know I had lost our baby. My scan was at 10am and I needed to make arrangements to get to the Linskfield Clinic the next day. I called my mom but she wasn’t home. My dad answered the phone and the moment I heard his voice I started crying. After telling him in between sobs and ‘snot-trekking’ that the baby was no longer, I asked him to get my mom to call me as I wanted to find out whether she would be able to take me in for the procedure.

The next morning I took a tranquilizer and I had to insert or swallow something. I can’t remember. In fact I can’t remember whether I inserted a tablet or swallowed something that should have been inserted into my vagina. The day was a haze and I was doing everything in my power to get through it. My mom arrived, along with my dad. According to her there was no way he was letting me go through this on my own and in his quiet way he was going to be there to support me. When I saw my dad I collapsed into his arms and cried like a baby. I cried and cried and cried. And he cried too. I’ve never seen my dad cry before, but he sobbed with me. We stood like that for what seemed like hours, with my mom sitting in the background. Now when I think back I’m not sure whether he was crying with me, sharing my grief for my lost baby or whether he was thinking “shit, this was my only chance at a white grand-child!”

Today we had my niece’s birthday party. She turns six on Monday (happy birthday Kelly – quick shout-out to you). It was a Hawaiian themed party and Emma arrived dressed for the celebration. My dad ignored her the entire day. He doesn’t say hello, he doesn’t reach out to her, she doesn’t exist as far as he’s concerned. And it breaks my heart. He is missing out on so much. He’s losing precious time with a little girl that has the personality the size of a big big jumping castle. He’s missing out on hugs and kisses, which she so freely gives to everyone. He’s missing out on hearing her say “I love you grand dad”. He’s missing out on a bundle of awesomeness that’s clever and funny and caring and sweet and incredibly special.

She doesn’t understand it now and to her he’s a face in the crowd but it won’t be that way for much longer…and then, what do I say? What do I do?

I think my dad feels I adopted Emma to spite him. I think he feels that ‘this’ was done to him. And every time I see him and the way he ‘reacts’ to Emma is a reminder of his words a long time ago, “I hope that’s the only black grandchild I ever have”.

 Emma at Kelly’s 6th birthday party – 24th September 2011

7 thoughts on “"I hope that’s the only black grandchild I ever have"

  1. I'm so sorry. This broke my heart too.My dad and brothers are pretty much the same, so on some smaller level, I can relate. I, on the other hand, am totally intolerant of racism. It's hurtful and unnecessary.I must be honest, when we decided to adopt, one of the (MANY!) reasons for adopting within our race was that I was way too scared and way too fearful of confrontations and such to even consider adopting outside of my own race. Selfish? Probably.I've already asked my father and brothers not to use certain words and phrases and racist comments in front of Isabella as she grows up. I cannot BEAR the thought of her calling a friend at school some horrendous name….

  2. I'm really sorry, I can imagine how hard this is for you. My mom was completely upfront with me when we started on the adoption path. We looked at inter-racial adoption and my mom told me flat out that she doesn't think she could love a black baby and there is no way she would be able to have that hair anywhere near her.Honestly it didn't influence our decision as we were exploring all options when Jaden became a possibility but I was really apprehensive about how it would affect me if my parents weren't completely accepting of their grandchild.We have grown up in a sad sad society that we even need to have this conversation at all… I can only hope that with time your dad will mellow a bit?

  3. my daughter have been with we for 6 years, she's 10 now an most my family still haven't accepted her, loving and embracing seems just a dream..but she is the moon and the sun in my sky

  4. Oh Melinda, I saw this one only today. It would totally break my heart. What about your mom? Can she not mediate a bit. Maybe if you tell him how much Emma means to you? Ag I don't know, but it is so sad.

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