Made By Design

God made each and every one of us special and unique. He painted us with so many different colors, textures, and patterns. He shaped and formed us in our mother’s womb with so many shapes, angles, and sizes in mind and no two are alike.

I believe that one can always find beauty in the vast differences that make every person a one of a kind creation even if it’s hard to see at first. However, what happens when the failure to see such beauty and God’s perfect intention in making us causes us to discriminate against others? What happens when those issues spark in your own home and in your little ones?

It’s natural for us to question things, especially in such a superficial and surface-level approach, and children are full of curiosity and wonder. They’re still learning and trying to understand the world around them and it can sometimes create conflict when things don’t add up to them. They might question why their eyes are blue while their friends’ eyes are brown, why their hair is straight while another has very curly and thick hair and the list goes on. These questions are not uncommon when welcoming home a new member of the family with those same differences in appearance.

No one wants to feel like they don’t belong, especially in a home that’s supposed to be their safe haven from the troubling world around us. It’s important to make sure every child grows up feeling loved and recognized for who they are so they can grow into all that our God has made them to be, though it can be a struggle at times.

I believe that one big misconception that often goes unrealized about raising a child of another ethnicity or even mixed race is that if you ignore the differences, then it won’t exist. If we treat everyone as equals in the context of being color-blind, then the issues will go away or never come to begin with. When in reality, racism and racial bias will always exist in the world and your children may always have questions as to why others are different than them. It’s important to recognize the differences and embrace them rather than blind acceptance, leaving your children’s questions unanswered in favor of harmony within your home and causing detrimental ignorance in the future.  

As a child of mixed race myself, I understood over time that it was important for me to embrace my differences and my cultures as something worth loving and thriving in even if others misunderstood them, and it’s important to have a loving and accepting environment for your children so they can have that confidence to embrace them as well.

When adopting a daughter of African American descent, try learning hairstyles together that will protect their hair rather than suppress it. It’s a good routine to incorporate for every day or for a princess tea party with girls from the neighborhood or school. If you have other daughters, include them in on the fun and let everyone embrace their creativity together with colorful hair ties, scrunchies, bobbles, and bows, celebrating their individuality.

As for a child of Asian or Hispanic descent, you can incorporate some easy and healthy recipes from their culture, avoiding things like fast food or ready-made frozen meals that are often very unhealthy and not an accurate representation of true cuisine and home cooking. You don’t have to go as far as picking the most unusual of what’s found in an ethnic marketplace in hopes of “tolerating and loving everything.” You can take your baby steps because this is a learning experience for you too. You can even take inspiration and save yourself some strife by researching and discovering what children from those countries eat for breakfast and lunch or by picking up some fun sweets or snacks that you can incorporate with ones you’re already familiar with.

However, with food, activities, or self-expression through clothes and art, it’s important to be open-minded and supportive. It should feel easy going and exciting, adding new and fun foods, activities, and routines, rather than a forced display of culture and an overemphasis and overbearing approach in embracing physical differences, which could incite some unintended xenophobia or disgust in the abrupt changes or cause them to feel smothered and caged in.

A lot of children are open to new ideas given the right atmosphere and as long as it’s handled with some of those key points in mind, seeking advice from other parents experiencing the same circumstances and struggles. Surely we can trek through the valleys and overcome these challenges together.

Adopting a child of a different race may pose some challenges at first and it may be difficult for others to accept, but take it slow. With time, patience, and most importantly love, both your adopted child and your other children and family members can grow together and learn firsthand, the importance of acceptance so they can treat others they encounter with the same love as well.

There may be times, whether it be a small quarrel during playtime or just natural curiosity about each other’s differences that your child might isolate your new member or your new member may isolate themselves, but fear not. They just need some gentle course correction while it’s still a small spark and to answer any question and solve any misunderstanding they might have with grace, instilling and reminding all of your children of how wonderful God is to make everyone different.

All in all, it’s important for your child to understand first and foremost that they‘re a child of God and that they were made by design. Even as adults we must embrace those holy truths to have the confidence to win against both the world and our own self-doubt, and be everything we were intended to be.