Black Blog Review: The Missing Piece…thoughts of a black adoptee
This week, I am reviewing the blog The Missing Piece…thoughts of a black adoptee
The author of the blog describes herself as:
black woman, adopted into a white family as an infant; mother of 2 girls; part-time insomniac; ex-lawyer; interests include: family stories, culture, race, books, writing, art, parenting, other adoptees, gardening…
In the post “who am I?”, the author gives more details about her home life.
The author of The Missing Piece was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and adopted into a White family. She does not know her biological parents, but she does know that her mother is White and her father is Black.
In the post, Rejection: adoptee woes in a nutshell, she writes about her struggle to contact her biological mother and get the name of her biological father. The post is a fascinating tour through Nova Scotian Adoption Legislation, for example, because her biological father never acknowledged paternity he is not legally her Birth Father.
In the post Missing Pieces, she explains her choice of blog name:
I don’t mean to characterize adoptees or transracial adoptees as ‘missing pieces’ or incomplete human beings, so just hear me out. An old, true friend introduced me to The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein many years ago. It succinctly and beautifully sums up the road many of us take to find ourselves, but especially adoptees who might feel at different times in their lives that they are missing some crucial part of themselves – knowledge of self, knowledge of family, medical or cultural history.
I really enjoy The Missing Piece blog because although I was not adopted, having a deported Black father who I had no hope of finding, and growing up in my mother’s totally dysfunctional White family, often made me feel like I was an orphan.
I can particularly relate to her struggles with Black Identity. In her post Back to Africa, she writes:
As a black girl growing up in a white family I was often on the outside of black culture and community. That is, until I entered junior high and made black friends, listened to black music, read black history and literature and deliberately absorbed black culture. Embracing black culture gave me some self-confidence and generally helped in the quest to know myself, but a kind of doubtful self-consciousness about my cultural identity remains. I am easily shaken if someone (black or white) insinuates I am not black enough, because I am too fair-skinned, or because I like to read, or because my family is white, or for some other ridiculous reason. What do you care what other people think, my friends and family ask. Intellectually I know I should not care, but the emotional need to belong or fit within family and community is strong.
I too grew up isolated from Black communities. In someways, the author is lucky to have grown up in Nova Scotia, which has a large and deep-rooted Black community. Growing up in Ottawa, in the 80s and 90s meant that I didn’t have much opportunity to interact with Black people, until the wave of Somali immigration in the mid-nineties. I can’t say I have ever really “embraced” Black culture because I don’t think there is such a thing. I am grateful for finally learning how to manage my hair (which shows no signs of being mixed as it is quite short and course), something I only accomplished in my early twenties with the help of a friend of Afro-Trinidadian descent. Here in Ottawa, there are now large communities of Sub-Saharan African descent but they are divided by ethnicity, culture, religion, and language (Ottawa is a bilingual city) so you can hardly say there is a Black Culture here. But I do interact a lot with these communities, some more than others (for obvious reasons I am closer to Muslim communities, but I find that I get on well with both Muslims and Christians from the Horn of Africa, and with Muslim and Christian francophones. Ironically, I seem to get on the least with Nigerians of any ethnicity, despite the fact that I am ethnically half-Nigerian. I guess a sense of belonging has very little to do with bloodlines).
I think many of the author’s issues with Black Identity are the same for all of us who are mixed race but didn’t grow up with our Black parents.
They are many Black adoptees out there. The Missing Piece’s blog roll contains links to other websites and blogs by transracial adoptees, as well as a link to the Black Adoptees Group on Facebook.
I learned from the Missing Piece blog that Darry McDaniels, the DMC from Run DMC, is a Black Adoptee, as well as musician Michael Franti. I am also grateful to the author for highlighting the work of Jackie Kay, a Black Scottish writer who was adopted into a White family. Kay’s father, like mine, is a Nigerian. She had the opportunity to meet him but it did not turn out as hoped, because he was hell bent on trying to save her soul by converting her to his rabid form of Christianity. This was actually my big fear when I found my father. As so many Nigerians I had met seemed to detest my conversion to Islam, I was worried my father might reject me because I was a Muslim or make our relationship contingent upon me becoming a Christian. I am grateful that this was not the case.
I hope the author of The Missing Piece continues to write about her own struggle, as well as the struggle of others to piece together the puzzle of mixed race and transracial identities.