Five years ago, I received an email from our family’s most loving couple: “We’re going to begin foster-to-adopt classes. Anyone who wants to help us raise this child is welcome, and we will take care of you when you get old.”
I’d just crossed the 62-year-old threshold, was in good health, and love kids. Woot! Oh yeah, all over this idea! “I’m in.”
Within five months of them finally qualifying as foster parents and accepting a wee baby, I moved almost 400 miles closer to play my part. It meant leaving my beloved, diverse Oakland, CA to settle in the white-dominated small town where our family planned to raise their new darling.
But our baby is dark black, and his moms soon realized they could not raise him in that safe, rural, easy-living town because he’d be the only Black kid. They decided to stay in Los Angeles.
So every Friday, I drove eighty miles to their house to take care of our little “peanut,” as his moms called him. As he grew and we learned to blend our nurturing styles, the weeks flew by until he was sleeping through the night, eating solids, toddling around, learning sign language for “hungry” and “more,” drumming with his drummer-Mommy, cooking with his chef-Mimi, building blocks, playing dress-up, learning to sing, and going to a preschool so diverse it looked like the United Nations.
As he turned three then four, he stayed at my house for such hilarious slumber parties full of raucous pillow fights that the neighbors said, “That laugh! It’s so infectious that I came outside to sit and listen to you two playing in there.”
Now he’s five (and a half, he’d like you to know) and we’ve all decided to live together in a Black neighborhood to help him be part of the culture and develop relationships with folks that look like him.
But his two mommies and his tia are white — a gentrifying, outside force in this established Black community, which makes me question our impact.
I wonder if the locals will sigh and think, “There goes the neighborhood.”