[caption id="attachment_26130" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Heaven Bachand (left) and her mom, Marguerit Bachand(right) in an undated family photo. When Heaven was 6, she was adopted transracially. Photo courtesy of Heaven Bachand.[/caption]
Growing up I was never proud of being black, because I was adopted into a white family. I was six when I met my mom for the first time. I was at the Oakland Zoo at an event where people went to meet foster kids. I was eating a lot of pizza and I saw this tall, Caucasian woman. She walked up to me and offered to get me another slice. That would have been my sixth slice of pizza, but I didn’t care. I was excited. She stayed with me and talked for a while.
After the event, she started hanging out with me. We went to the park, her house, and talked. I would see her about once a week. A few months later, I moved in. Eventually, she adopted me.
Back then, I didn’t really care that my new mom was white. As I got older, though, race became more important
In middle school, I started noticing people treated me differently than my white family members. In 7th grade, I lived in a white neighborhood and people watched my every move. I knew people were thinking that I looked sketchy when in reality I am a nice person and care for people.
Whenever I would go places, people stared at me and my mom. I could tell by the way they looked at me they were trying to figure how we were related. Kids would just come up to me and ask, “Is your dad black or is that your mom?” It was so awkward, one time a kid asked me, “Is that your mom?”and I told him, “No, that’s my babysitter.” I was embarrassed because I felt like they were asking, where are your real parents? And my real parents didn’t want me.
I never told my mom about these things, because I didn’t want her to feel bad. It wasn’t her fault. But as a white woman there are some things she can't fully understand. I couldn't explain to her how I never felt comfortable in family pictures because I was the only black person. When my mom would tell me to be safe and be nice to cops, I wondered if she would still say that if I were white. If I were white, would I have to worry about if I’m going to make it home at night or if a cop is going to approach me? Those kind of thoughts made me hate being black.
A lot changed when I eventually went to a school with other black kids. There, didn't feel like I stuck out. I started dating somebody who related to everything I’ve gone through. She is also adopted. She is mixed black and white. She understands the struggles. Talking to her, I felt like I could finally open to someone.
Now, I love that I’m black. I love the history I learned in school and over social media. We had to fight to come this far, and I should love my skin and my background. I’m proud to be different. I am proud that I was born African American. And I feel like I can start to explain how I feel to my family.I love my family, though they may never understand the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement the way I do. But, I am proud to talk about my history. And in time, I hope to help them understand where I come from.
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