Welcome, Meredith Keith-Chirch! Thank you for sharing your story with us here at The Consciously Parenting Project! I’m so excited that you’re opening up this much needed support for families of mixed races and ethnicities!
I’m really excited to be embarking on a new project with Rebecca here at the Consciously Parenting Project. Rebecca has recently noticed that there are quite a few families seeking support who happen to be made up of various races and ethnicities. This happens to be an area about which I feel passionate, which she knows, so she reached out to me to discuss what we might be able to do about this together. I shared with her my excitement about the possibility of offering a supportive community for families of this kind. In particular, we are referring to families where one or more child is not white and one or more of the parents are.
In my experience, there are very few groups, if any, who support families who fall into this category. There are just so many levels of support that are needed. First there’s the level of support that people of color (and here I am talking about any color other than white) need, especially living here in the United States. Then there is the level of support that parents need in general, because it’s a big job to support children to become the people they are going to grow into. Then when you add in the dynamic of having family members of various colors and their varying needs, in addition to the stories that all of these individuals bring to the family, that’s an additional piece. Lastly, you bring in the dynamic of parents who would like to raise their children differently than most people in mainstream society might be raising their kids. Lump all of these in together, then add a dash of interesting cultural shifts that the recent times has brought us, and here you are!
Allow me to share just a bit of my personal story, so you can learn more about me and why I am passionate about supporting parents in this way. I am brown. Specifically, I’m Guatemalan. I was adopted by two white parents — a mom and dad — as an infant. I grew up in the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s. My parents were told by the local agency they worked with that I was Kentucky’s first Guatemalan adoption to ever be processed. Take that in for just a moment. The first. Which means that my parents — were alone. No one to ask for advice. No one to turn to when navigating the waters of raising a brown child.
Fast forward to adulthood. I decided to marry a white guy. And I had known from a very young age — around 6 or 7 — that my daughter was in Guatemala and that I’d be adopting her. I was not interested in being pregnant or giving birth, so that was my plan. The plan worked out, and here I am, raising a brown daughter. She’s now 10. While her experience has been different than mine because she has a brown parent who can relate to her in that way, her dad is white, and I’m still navigating the waters of raising a child of color in these times, which in some ways have changed since I was her age and in some ways have not. I am also seeing what parts of my story are coming up and are giving me something to think about when they affect how I see what she is experiencing. Fun times! Not to mention the many years I spent before my daughter came along (and then for few years after), helping to raise two white stepchildren who lived part-time in another household that just happened to be all white and extremely prejudiced against any people of color. Wheee!!!
We would like to create a space for those of us raising kids of color. A safe space. A caring space. A space free of judgement. A space where we can share our thoughts, fears, emotions, and all that is coming up for us with others who are much more likely to “get it” than family, friends, or neighbors. Won’t you join us?
Meredith Keith-Chirch juggles roles as dancer, vocalist, supporter of self-directed learning, and health educator. She’s passionate about helping others increase their awareness of holistic wellness and what that means to each individual, including how one’s daily lifestyle choices directly impact their quality of life. She’s part of a low-tech, car-free, school-free, conscious living minimalist family who tends to follow what will make them happy in life, whether it be with big decisions or day-to-day ones. Learn more about Meredith and her work at mforhealth.com and myblueskyacademy.com.