It was so exciting when we first saw Kirk’s profile and it just felt so right. When we read other children’s files, there were lots of questions. There was no caution or question marks with him; it was just “Yes!”, so we were over the moon. The one question that there was over the match was that it was a transracial one and whether the panel felt that this was a good idea or not. There was talk about engaging with his various identities and one of the black panel members asked ‘what if he doesn’t want to talk about all those things?’ It was more serious than I had expected. They asked some tough questions.
The hardest thing about parenting for us is answering people’s questions, especially because he looks different to us. We knew we would have those questions and we talked about it endlessly, but the reality doesn’t hit home until you’re in a packed tube and someone asks you a question where the honest answer leads to an ‘ouchy’ conversation. You can’t lie because he’s here with you, and when he gets older he is going to know that it’s a lie. So, we are trying to find a very straight forward ‘this conversation is ending’ answer, that doesn’t give him the wrong idea that we are ashamed or that there is something secret that we can’t talk about yet.
We have met a few people who have got mixed race children and they said that, especially now that their kids are older, you can practice those answers, but you will still get thrown every so often by the things that you get asked in public, or the assumptions that people make.
We have learnt to deal with the difficult public questions by trial and error, and being able to laugh about it afterwards is important. I think for Kirk, as he grows up, we need to be able to laugh about it with him, like ‘whoops that was a bit embarrassing when that woman asked that question and she didn’t quite anticipate the answer and now she’s a bit embarrassed’. For Kirk it’s something that he is going to have to deal with as he gets older, and something that he is going to have to find his own answers for.