Color not a concern
EAGLE COUNTY – Her name is Kayin, which means long-awaited child in an African dialect. Just weeks after she arrived at her new home in the mountains, some friends asked her light-blond , blue-eyed mother, “Does she look like you?” With a smile, Missy Lacy laughs and tells them over the phone: “She’s the furthest thing from me, dark skin and dark hair, but it’s OK.”Lacy, 42, and her husband Darren, 31, a firefighter in Vail, adopted Kayin from an adoption agency in Alabama in December. They brought her home on Dec. 18 when Kayin was 9 days old.”We couldn’t get pregnant and we both felt that God gave us a burden to take a child in. That was in the forefront,” Missy said.When the Lacys started adoption procedures in February 2005 they said they were open to adopt either a white or a black baby.”I think our initial preference was biracial or African-American,” Darren Lacy said. “We didn’t care, it really didn’t matter,” said Missy, who lived in Africa for some years. “I don’t see color because of where I’ve lived.”Modern society puts labels on people and we try not to see it that way. It’s more their issue than our issue. What it’s important is taking a child and not being picky at what we got.”Adoption stories
The Lacys aren’t the only ones in the Vail Valley who chose a trans-racial adoption, despite the fact that the black population in the county with less than a half percent according to the 2000 census.After having two children of their own, Vail’s Patrick and Suzanne Dauphinais adopted two black children, Mariah, 11, and Abraham, 6. Though Patrick, 55 and Suzanne Dauphinais, 54, have two biological children – Mercedes, 27, and Patrick Jr., 22 – they agreed when they got married to adopt two children in addition to having their own.”If you have the ability to do something, you should do it,” said Patrick Dauphinais, who has been married to Suzanne for 30 years. “One of the overpowering reasons to do this is that we think our older kids came out to be great kids. We were successful with the first two and we plan to be successful with the second two. “When we decided to do it, we thought the best way to go was where the need was more obvious.”According to Suzanne Peden, of A Angel Adoptions in Helena, Ala. – the agency the Lacys use to adopt Kayin – the majority of black babies or bi-racial babies are being adopted by white families.”There are people less willing to adopt African-American babies, some people rather wait and get a Caucasian baby,” said Peden, a social worker who has worked in the adoption field for 20 years.Margie Chapman, who with her husband, Bruce, adopted Julia, 16, from the Ukraine, said now she would be open to adopt a child of another race.”When I was younger it seemed to matter,” she said. “But I’m a more secure person now. I wasn’t back then so I wanted to adopt a baby that looked just like me because I lost one. But now I know that they are all wonderful. “The bottom line is once you have them and know them, you are bonded,” she added. “I would be more concerned with the health of the child than the race.”A welcoming community
Though the adoption is finalized, Missy and Darren Lacy still attend classes to learn how to deal with the fact that they have become a bi-racial family.”They always encourage us to expose Kayin to her heritage, whether it’s music or people of the same color,” Missy Lacy said. “There’s not many African-Americans in Vail, so we plan to go to Denver.”For Patrick Dauphinais, the Vail community, where he and his wife had lived for 28 years, has been welcomed the adopted children.”Vail is a very cosmopolitan community,” he said. “Our experience here is that the people in the valley are color blind.”Still, over the years there had been a couple incidents that have been inappropriate, Dauphinais said. “Growing up is tough duty regardless of the (child’s) color,” Dauphinais said. In fact, Dauphinais said his adopted children have been treated here with a lot of sensitivity and awareness. “We are aware of the difference of race,” he said, “but has it been any different? No.” Before a family adopts a baby of another race, the family needs to be educated, said Peden, whose agency does 30 adoptions a year.”It’s important for them to accept that they have become a trans-racial family and that is very important for their children to be around other black children and adults,” she said. “The child needs black role models.”After all, the outcome of rearing a child of another race can be very positive, Peden added.”I’ve read many books of blacks who grew up in a white family, and the majority acknowledge that they had opportunities they may not have had with their birth families,” Peden said. “The less successful families appeared to be those who didn’t integrate more with African Americans.”
‘Where the need is’So far, Missy Lacy said she’s gotten mixed feelings about the adoption from different people. “Some think it’s great,” she said. “Others don’t understand why we would want to do that. We haven’t had any negativity. Some strange looks, but the family has been awesome.”To Darren Lacy, adopting Kayin also is an opportunity to educate people. “If someone looks at me funny or says something rude, it’s their issue,” he said. “Hopefully this can educate people so they are informed that this baby needs love just like any other baby.”Though they just started their life with Kayin, the Lacys said they are hoping to adopt another child.”We’ll definitely do an AfricanAmerican adoption, so she has someone else who looks like her,” Missy Lacy said. “Somebody said to me before we went to pick her that this would be the hardest thing we would do in our lives, but the most rewarding.”When it comes to adoption, Patrick Dauphinais said he believes there’s a surplus of white healthy children.”So I would encourage people to look at minority kids because that’s were the need is,” he said. Vail, Colorado
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