This week’s Huffington Post Gay Voices RaiseAChild.US “Let Love Define Family” series installment is a first-person article by a young woman adopted from the foster care system.
“Everyone has people in their lives that are gay, lesbian or transgender, or bisexual. They may not want to admit it, but I guarantee they know somebody.”—Billie Jean King
I am nineteen years of age, 5'4’', female, African-American, born in Los Angeles, moved around foster homes until the age of four. Just from that you probably are forming an idea of what kind of person I am and what kind of past I may have. Maybe I am not very educated, or maybe I am. Maybe I am of a lower class or maybe I am not. Have you yet thought what my name may be? I bet it wasn’t the first question to pop into your head, and that is expected. Well, let me fill you in. My name is Mia Springer and I was brought up by lesbians. They adopted me in L.A. and I have been calling them my mothers ever since.
I grew up mainly in white society. My friends were usually white, the schools I attended were usually majority-wise white. Being black, I was soon referred to as “the whitest black girl” any of my friends and classmates had met. As I got older I discovered another term for what I am -- “whitewashed” and that became my identity. I could do all of the things a “typical” black person was known to be capable of, but I was “even better” because I was “white” inside; they didn’t have to deal with the "ghetto" black people you see on the screen. “Uh-Oh Oreo.” Ever hear that expression before? Well, I am sure you can guess what it means. An inside-out Oreo, that was how I was seen. Except then you add in the fact that I was brought up in a lesbian household, and then became a whole new kind of person. Not only was I black, adopted by white women, but those women were lesbians! Can you just imagine the sort of reactions and questions I have gotten from people over the years?
Maybe now you are wondering if I myself am lesbian as well, or maybe bisexual, or maybe I am broken and damaged beyond repair. Actually, I attend college and I am also recently working a summer job. I am in a very strong healthy relationship with an amazing guy. I ride horses, I love to dance, read and write. Have I ever had thoughts that maybe I could be a lesbian? Sure. Did I ever think it had to do with my upbringing? No. Why? Because I am still me, an individual being. Whether I was raised by straight parents, lesbians or gay men, I believe I would still be straight myself. So let me just crush that stereotype right now because it is one I have run into many times over the years.
I couldn’t ask for better parents but then again who could when they have given me so much? And the craziest part? They chose me. Yep, picked me out of a group of small children with big, hopeful eyes and white gleaming smiles. They took me into their home and into their hearts, and loved and cherished me, and to this day spoil me beyond compare. Do you think we sit and compare our skin tones, or find barriers because I am black and they are white, or because I am straight and they are lesbian? No, of course not. We are family, pure and simple. Is family really defined by blood or is it more defined by love? For me, it is truly and utterly love, so why deny someone the right to family? With love I believe comes understanding, and in a family understanding is one of the posts that keeps your house from crashing down. Why should my parents have had to wait until 2014 to get married in the eyes of the law, simply because of the form of their love? People didn’t see the need to understand this type of love and bonding or maybe they weren’t ready to understand. I have been with my family for fifteen years and as far as I can see there is no crime done here, only your average people making more than average lives for themselves. Filling it to the brim with sunlight and the most precious gems life has to offer.
I am simply a young girl figuring out my way in this world, and I have my beautiful lesbian mothers backing behind me, pushing me to dream big and achieve those dreams and make them realities. That to me is what family is about, not your skin color or your sexual orientation, and when you see a family with all these aspects why bother them or question the motives of the parents simply because they are “different” or make you uncomfortable? They have a right to love and the chance to be understood, as do we all. In the end we are all about the same inside and we all end up in the same place, not here.
Now I bet you have a better picture of what kind of life I have had. I mean, it's not everyday a 19-year-old girl can say she has lived in Venice, Italy, and Wales, UK. I think Rita Mae Brown said it perfectly: “The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.”
About the author: Mia Springer is a college student in California.
RaiseAChild.US is a national organization headquartered in Hollywood, California that encourages the LGBT community to build families through fostering and adopting to serve the needs of the 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. RaiseAChild.US works with foster and adoption agencies that have received training in LGBT cultural competence through the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “All Children-All Families” initiative. Since 2011, RaiseAChild.US has run media campaigns to educate prospective parents and the public, and has engaged more than 2,000 prospective parents. For information about how you can become a foster or fost/adopt parent, visit www.RaiseAChild.US and click on “Next Step to Parenthood."