Forced Versus Organic—Personal Versus Public
All women who become first-time mothers begin to see their lives in terms of life before baby and life with baby. For these mothers who adopt children of a different race and culture, this divide between their previous and present lives is further fraught with the process of building a transracial family. They are concerned not only with making the adjustments of motherhood but also with carving out a multicultural space that neither negates their own identity nor excludes their child’s heritage. There appears to be a number of different layers in these intersecting social worlds. There are multiple, sometimes overlapping resources to tap: (1) resources from the hybrid adoption network, (2) resources from the mother’s single life, and (3) resources from local communities of color.
Alarli distinguished between connections that developed naturally and fit fluidly with her present life and those that felt more forced. She found these organic connections through lifelong friendships and the adoption community: “My best friend is Chinese American and she is about to go to China. She is lesbian, about to come back with a child. So that is an organic connection in our life.” The people in her adoption group who went over to China and adopted from the same orphanage considered their children “cousins,” and this group remained close. However, Marli acknowledged, these connections did not fully represent Chinese American culture, and she sought out connections that were more authentic even if they were also more forced:
Because basically it’s a white culture. And even though the kids are physically Asian, and the reality is, identity stuff is incredibly complicated. 2оё is not just Asian and she will be Asian/Jewish and whatever that means. But I definitely think some link into actual Asian communities to me seems significant, and to be aware there are Asian adults, so it’s not just kids. I think that’s differently affirming than just knowing white families who have Asian kids. And then of course that all collides into all the rest of the realities of being a single mom. Which are, how do I do them all together?
In the above excerpt Marli circled around her own principal identities, including being single, lesbian, and Jewish. All were interlocking and constituted who she was. In her life prior to adopting, she had constructed a tapestry of relationships that affirmed these other identities. Now with an Asian child she had to weave together her preexisting identity with her child’s cultural background: 
. . . Definitely I’ve got to get somewhere on the language school, at least so I can read the transliteration correctly. It’s not adequate enough to be just good friends and hanging out with other people from China.
Marli wanted to create a life in which the interlocking identities that formed her family would all be acknowledged in varying ways. They did not all need to be acknowledged simultaneously; for Marli, the task of reweaving a new life was more about building an authentic multicultural family. Marli saw herself in contrast to other white families who would rather gloss over their child’s race:
I definitely do consider myself adamantly in contrast to the color-blind school, which I think is unfortunately extremely mistaken. Do I think you could be obsessive about this? Yes, I do think you could be obsessive. Do I come anywhere near that? No. I mean I think there’s a real tendency, if you’re white, and particularly the way Asian culture is quoted in this society, you could start to think your kid’s white because you’re mostly in a white world.
Single white mothers wdro adopt children of color have to be intentional and creative in linking their families to authentic communities of their child’s race. For instance, Gina sought out an African American pediatrician so that her child w’ould have a professional role model. Similarly, she attended cultural events to expose her daughter to famous people of color in the arts. They vacationed in a part of Martha’s Vineyard that is a summer destination for upper-middle-class African Americans. Social class concerns w^ere equally important in her decisions. Yet while she had the economic ability to place her child whth middle-class African Americans, she remained an outsider:
I am just trying to put a little more emphasis on raising a resilient child. I w7ant her to stay strong in how7 she feels about herself. I’m tiying to expand who is really in our lives. It’s harder to go beyond even play dates and to go beyond mixed birthday parties and really be intimately connected with families from different racial groups. I’ve made some inroads but not as much as I’d like to. But we’ve slowly identified Oak Bluffs as our vacation spot. Each year we are meeting more and more people. Race is part of each decision I make. So far so good. I’m more in awe [and] not that articulate about this—but I’m more in awe of the tremendous responsibility7 of parenting a child of color. And the additional responsibility for parenting a child who is African American in this society than I ever was before.
Gina decided to force the authenticity of intimacy in order to place her child in affirming and visibly diverse social circles. The friendships such children form with people of the same race and/or culture may lead to relationships the mothers may or may not share in the future. Whether the children’s friendships become the catalyst for multicultural communities that are less intentional and more organic remains to be seen.