All the Light Within Part II: Jasmine
In the past few years, it has become increasingly important for me to connect with other transracial adoptees. In the wake of reconnecting with my biological mother two years ago, I have found comfort and solace in the shared connection of the transracial adoption experience, and a renewed commitment to amplifying the adoptee voice utilizing my blog platform.
I have dedicated the month of July towards telling transracial adoptee stories through a series entitled: All the Light Within, by featuring 4 different transracial adoptees. If you missed Part I, please click here to access.
If you are an interracial adoptee and would like to be considered for an interview, I would welcome your private message via FB or comments on my blog.
I think one of the best things about telling adoption stories is that ultimately adoption stories are relationship stories. Relationships often include struggle and disappointment, sometimes loneliness and abandonment, but relationships are also miraculous because of how they connect people with other people. I think that transracial adoptions can sometimes provide a particularly important lens when seeking to investigate systems of attachment, childhood development and transracial relationships, and I hope that you feel privileged and encouraged by Jasmine’s openness.
I still remember the first time I met Jasmine during a college theater activity. Because both of us attended the same small Mennonite college in the middle of rural, tumbleweed Kansas, you can imagine that it wasn’t very racially diverse. I will never forget how her vivacious personality, beautiful smile and infectious belly laugh immediately caught my attention, and I remain grateful for her vulnerability and genuine spirit.
Jasmine is a 25-year-old black woman and currently resides in the Southwest. Because she was unable to Skype, this interview features Jasmine’s written responses to specific questions regarding her adoption.
Born in 1993, Jasmine begins her adoptive story with this memory:
The day I was born, I was placed in a home because my birth mother was incarcerated. I have been with that wonderful family ever since. Barb and Dick Jones then became my legal guardians when I was 5 years old.
According to Bureau of Justice Statisticians, Lauren Glaze and Laura Maruschak, in their study, Parents in Prison and Their Minor Children, the number of children with a mother in prison increased 131 percent between 1991 and midyear 2007..and, children whose parents are involved in the criminal justice system have an above average likelihood of entering foster care.
These statistics are particularly staggering when you begin to consider the demographics which were most affected in the wake of the Crack Epidemic. But it is even more important to remember that these are not just statistics, but people. And, that real people were effected and continue to be effected.
I invite you to read Jasmine’s story with care and I remain grateful to Jasmine for her vulnerability and openness.
How do you identify racially?
I honestly identify myself as biracial. My birth mother’s mother was white, but my mom had more black on her.
Did you recognize early on that you were different from your adoptive family?
I truly never really felt different from my adoptive family. I consider myself very lucky to have been placed in such a loving and understanding home. The community that I grew up was mostly white and they never treated me any differently.
Did your parents/family discuss your differences with you?
Yes, very much so, and it helps me love who I am even more.
What values did your parents instill in you?
How to be a hard worker.
What has been the best thing about your adoption?
For me, it would be growing up in a loving, safe home with people who actually cared for me. I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like if I had not been adopted
What, if anything, would you want to tell someone about your adoption journey?
I would tell them if they are thinking about adoption to not hesitate…to just do it…. that they are saving the precious baby.
Did you feel isolated or lonely growing up?
No. I had a pretty good set of friends we are still pretty close today and I truly value their friendships.
Was race an issue for you/your family?
Did you live in a racially dominant area?
Not at all. My younger sister (who was also adopted, but is not my biological sister) and I were pretty much the only black people in our town. There are maybe, maybe 7 total. But our town is also very small.
In your neighborhood, was race an issue?
If it was, I never once experienced it. But also, we never had a neighborhood.
When did you, if at all, first begin to identify with the black community? (ie: some have said when Trayvon Martin was killed, some have said when they began to make more black friends, etc.,):
Hesston College actually was the first time. And, I am happy I got to experience Hesston. I made a lot of good friends.
Do you feel like race impacts you?
Yes, now that I am grown up and looking for work it is very hard….it seems like no one wants to hire the black woman.
What was your first negative racialized moment?
I honestly cannot remember and maybe that is for the best. I haven’t really had any bad experiences with being black.
When was your first positive racialized moment? (ie: For example, maybe you always loved being biracial, or maybe you did when you began to love your hair…etc.,):
I think it was when I realized how awesome bright colors looked against my skin.
I love that positive racialized moment statement. And, I love Jasmine’s continued optimism. She faces the world with a sunny disposition, and she continues to inspire me. And, maybe, she also inspired you.
Keep on the lookout for part III of All the Light Within.