Danielle & Sara

by Sara Baker

Our family is comprised of my partner, Danielle, and myself, as well as my four children from a previous marriage, ages 11 through 24. Sounds pretty vanilla lesbian step family until you throw in the fact that Danielle is transgender and my youngest daughter was adopted from China. That makes us divorced, gay, transgender and transracial, which actually, from where we sit, is pretty cool. Annalise (14), watched a video about alternative family lifestyles at school and said that she thought it was great that our family fit into so many categories.

Sara Whitcome and Danielle O’Hennesnesey

Our family has so many diversity points that one of our biggest challenges is not to become the poster family for any single issue, or to be consumed by the outside forces that have appointed themselves judge and jury about whether we are the “right” kind of family. In both cases, we become identified as an issue to be discussed and politicized, rather than to just be the family that we never needed to permission to be anyway.

In terms of having a focus on our family being transracial, I think because I grew up in a transracial family, (my parents adopted my older two siblings from Korea seven years before I was born)I see it as more normal than not, however, I am aware of the issues surrounding this particular aspect of our family. We have dealt with classmates who made fun of my daughter’s Chinese accent and pulled their eyelids back to mock the shape of her eyes. Her older sister recently filed an official complaint with the school against a student who called her adopted sister a “chink”.

Baker Kids

All of it is upsetting in the moment, but the growth I have seen in my children – in their awareness of the world and in their responses to these issues has not made me grateful for the prejudice, but I have seen the Bible verse “what men have meant for evil, God can use for good” come true before my very eyes. As much as we want to protect our kids from the bias of the outside world, we know that we will ultimately fail them if we don’t provide them with an appropriate awareness level that will help them to navigate the world. Pretending race or homosexuality isn’t an issue in our culture would be a disservice to them, but it needn’t be the focus of our lives either.

In fact, our family’s story is, other than our level of diversity, pretty typical. We go to a lot of soccer games and parent conferences and we are trying to figure out how to pay for college (or even fill out the forms!). Our kids have chores, we eat dinner every night together and go to church on Sundays. The kids drive us crazy sometimes (admittedly, a short drive because we are both working full time) and I think, if you asked them, they would tell you that we are way too picky about the movies they see, the friends they hang around with and about knowing where they are every single minute, but at the end of the day, we all belong to each other and so, we just keep moving forward, because that’s what families do, right?

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