Sandra Laing had been doing her sums quietly when a boy was sent to fetch her from her classroom. In the principal’s office, two khaki-uniformed officers were waiting.

‘I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave us,’ the principal told her. He offered no explanation, and nor did the police officers who escorted her off the premises.

It was March 10, 1966. On Robben Island, in the sea off Cape Town, Nelson Mandela was serving the second year of a life sentence for sabotage.

And through a quirk of genetics, ten-year-old Sandra was about to become another potent symbol of a nation built on race and prejudice.

Her parents, Abraham and Sannie Laing, were white – indeed, as members of the Nationalist Party, they were fervent supporters of South Africa’s apartheid regime – and yet their daughter undeniably looked black, with her brown skin and tightly curled hair.

Her African features were almost certainly a throwback to an unknown ancestor whose DNA, having lain dormant for generations, had emerged in her. But when Sandra was a schoolgirl, this aspect of genetics was unknown and there was no such thing as a DNA test.

There was only the cruel and relentless gossip suggesting that her mother had had an affair with a black man.

For four years, teachers and the parents of other pupils at her all-white primary school had fought to have her expelled on the grounds that she was of mixed race. Finally, they had succeeded.
Her two brothers still refuse to see her

The story of Sandra Laing – of how she was reclassified as ‘coloured’ by the government and how her parents, insisting that she was their biological child, took their battle to keep her ‘white’ all the way to the Supreme Court – caused an international furore.

Even today, hers is a name with which most South Africans are familiar. But only one person knows the true cost of the decision, that day, to hound a girl from her school, and that is Sandra herself.

Four decades on – and 19 years after the dismantling of the apartheid regime – her life remains an extraordinary quest for identity. A fascinating new book by journalist Judith Stone reveals the full extent of the psychological traumas Sandra endured.

As a confused teenager she eloped with a black man, causing her parents to disown her. She went on to suffer domestic violence, destitution and the death of one of her six children. Although reunited with her mother, she was never reconciled with her father and to this day, her two brothers refuse to see her.
Sandra Laing and her mother

Sandra and her mother were finally reconciled not long before the older woman’s death

Now 53, Sandra is the daughter of shopkeepers from the Eastern Transvaal (since renamed Mpumalanga). Abraham Laing and his wife, Sannie, could see from the moment she was born that her skin was darker than their own and that of her elder brother Leon, yet they refused to acknowledge what was in front of them.

‘My father told me I was white. He thought of me as his white little girl,’ Sandra says.

Both Sannie, who is of Dutch descent, and Abraham, whose family originated from Germany, could trace back their white ancestry through several generations.

As Afrikaners, they had been indoctrinated in the Boer belief that to be white was pure and that people of mixed race were unstable and less intelligent.

They kept Sandra out of the sun and, in their rural community, no one drew attention to her toffee-coloured complexion until she started school.

Sandra remembers, early in her first year at primary school, a group of girls began teasing her incessantly. They called her ‘Blackie’ and ‘ Frizzhead’ and refused to use the water fountain after she’d drunk from it.

In the communal showers, her tormentors would say: ‘Look, she’s dirty all over!’

Her mother told her not to worry about it, but still Sannie sent off for a bottle of hair straightener which burned like battery acid. Patches of Sandra’s hair fell out, and when it grew back, it was as curly as ever.

The rumours that Sannie must have slept with a black man were rife and, consequently, the entire family were shunned at church and on the streets.

Local parents began to take their children out of the school, and the principal wrote to the education authorities declaring himself certain that Sandra was of mixed blood.
‘It was illegal to even kiss a member of another race’

For Abraham, the idea that his wife might have consorted with a black man, making him the most humiliated of cuckolds, was unthinkable (under South Africa’s Immorality Acts, it was illegal to have sex with, or even kiss, a member of another race).

Unpleasant, but far more bearable was the suggestion that he or his wife had a non-white branch near the root of their family tree.

‘If her appearance is due to some “coloured blood” in either of us, then it must be very far back among our forebears, and neither of us is aware of it,’ he declared.

Such an argument turns out to be entirely conceivable. According to research published in the early Seventies, about 8 per cent of the genes of any modern Afrikaner are non-white.

More recent studies put the number slightly higher, at 11 per cent. Of the 25,000 or so genes that determine inheritable characteristics, only a tiny fraction have to do with skin colour, hair texture and other visible markers of race.

Abraham and Sannie could not call upon such scientific evidence. Back then, no paternity test could prove beyond doubt that Abraham was Sandra’s father. But a blood test that could rule out paternity was available. He underwent it willingly, and the test established that he was, indeed, potentially Sandra’s father.

Both he and Sannie signed an affidavit swearing that they were Sandra’s biological parents.

Sandra remains adamant that her mother wouldn’t have cheated on her father. ‘My father was boss, and my mother wouldn’t do that,’ she says.

She offers up her own evidence – photographs of herself with her baby brother, Adriaan, taken when Sandra was 11 and Adriaan was a year old.

The likeness is startling. Adriaan’s baby hair is the same froth of tight curls, but his skin just light enough for him to have escaped Sandra’s fate.

For 18 months, the Laings battled against their daughter’s reclassification – at first losing their case in the Supreme Court, and then, to their relief, receiving a letter from the Home Affairs minister to say the decision had been reversed.

Although Sandra was officially ‘white’ again, nine schools refused to take her and she was enrolled at a convent run by Irish nuns. She worried that history would repeat itself, but quickly made new friends among the all-white pupils.
Sandra with her mother and brother

Sandra with her mother and brother Adriaan

Still, the conversations she enjoyed most were with the school’s Zulu driver, Samuel.

‘I could talk more easily to black people than white,’ she says. ‘I just felt more comfortable with them.’

During the holidays, Sandra worked with her mother in the family’s general store. She liked chatting with the customers, especially Petrus Zwane, a Swazi vegetable seller.

‘Everyone liked Petrus – even my father,’ Sandra says. She knew Petrus had a wife and three children, but by the time she turned 14, she burned with a schoolgirl crush.

One day, in the pine forest behind the Laings’ house, Petrus kissed her. Not long after that, they made love for the first time. Their affair continued for several months before her parents found out. ‘My mother said my father would kill me,’ says Sandra.

‘He was mad. He shouted: “White people don’t get involved with black people. I try to get you in a good school and now you’re busy with kaffirs!” ‘

Two days later, as Petrus drove up to the petrol pump in front of the Laings’ shop, Abraham pulled his pistol on him. ‘Ma grabbed the gun and Petrus stood there frozen. My mother told Petrus to go and never come back.’

The affair created an unbridgeable chasm between Abraham and his daughter. Within a year, convinced that her father no longer loved her, Sandra eloped with Petrus.

After fleeing, both of them were arrested. He served a month in jail; she was held for two months. After her release, Petrus took her to his parents’ home in Swaziland, where Sandra became an unofficial ‘small wife’ to Petrus’s senior first wife, Lisa.

She settled well with her new family. ‘I was happy. I felt at home. They were like my own people,’ she says.

Sandra kept in occasional phone contact with her mother, and when, a year later, aged 16, she gave birth to her first child, Henry, she rang Sannie. ‘She said I must bring him, but that I should come in the middle of the day so my father wouldn’t know.’

Petrus dropped off Sandra and Henry close to the shop. Sannie held her grandson and kissed him, but Sannie didn’t invite Sandra into the house. ‘The visit lasted only ten minutes. My mother was scared my father would come.’

Within 18 months, Sandra was making the same trip with her second child – a daughter named Elsie.
‘My mother said I should not make contact again’

‘As I was about to leave, my mother said they were thinking of moving. She said I must look after myself, and also that I should not make contact with her again,’ says Sandra.
‘I was sad, but I knew it was my father’s idea, not hers.’ Two years later, Sandra returned to her parents’ shop to find it empty. No one could give her a forwarding address for her parents.

In May 1977, Sandra’s third child, a daughter called Jenny, died aged seven months of a fever. Sandra and Petrus were devastated.

He began to drink heavily and Sandra became convinced he blamed her for Jenny’s death. He accused her of fooling around with other men and turned violent.

At first, he slapped her. Then he began hitting her with a sjambok, a whip traditionally made of leather thongs or rhinoceros hide. Sandra’s back was soon covered with deep sjambok cuts; blood ran in streams from her head.

She worried that somehow Petrus’s anger was her fault. She feared he would kill her and decided it was time to flee.

One chilly winter afternoon in July 1979, she ran away with David Radebe, a friend of Petrus’s, taking their two children, Henry and Elsie, with her.

The move precipitated a new, desperate phase in her life, when David abandoned her before their son, Prins, was born in March 1980.

To support her children, Sandra took on a cleaning job, but within a year she became seriously ill. Doctors diagnosed cancer of the womb, and because she needed surgery, she was persuaded to have her three children fostered.

However, the cancer diagnosis turned out to be wrong – she had another, less serious gynecological condition, from which she later recovered.
By then it was too late

But by then, it was too late. Sandra had lost Henry, Elsie and Prins to the welfare system, and although she continued to see them every other weekend, it would be nine years before she could reclaim them.

Adrift and bereft for her lost children, she fell into another relationship and had another child, Anthony. Again, the father left her before her baby was born.

Finally, in 1987, Sandra’s life turned a corner when a truck driver called Johannes Motlaung began courting her. ‘I liked being with Johannes,’ she says. ‘He was quiet, and he didn’t beat me.’

She had her sixth and last child, Steve, with Johannes in 1988. Shortly afterwards, her three elder children were returned to her.

Her daughter, Elsie, remembers being surprised to see her mother standing at the school gate.

‘She told us she was coming to fetch us for good. I was really glad. I cried. She said she didn’t have money, and I said: “Ma, it doesn’t matter, as long as we are together.”‘

Once her family was all under one roof, Sandra felt strong enough to reignite the search for her own mother and father. She traced a cousin, Susanna, who told her that her father had died of throat cancer a year earlier.

‘I felt sad and shocked. I had wanted to ask him for forgiveness before he died,’ says Sandra.

Susanna also gave Sandra her mother’s phone number. She called, and they spoke for the first time in 16 years.

‘She was surprised to hear from me. She asked how many children I had. I told her five. She kept asking where I was staying and if I was OK.
‘You mustn’t ask for any more money’

I didn’t ask her where she was, but I did ask why they didn’t let me know my father had died. She said that they didn’t know where to find me.’ A few weeks later, Sandra received a letter and £150 from her mother, but no return address.

‘You mustn’t ask for any more money. There isn’t more … You must stay well and look out for yourself,’ Sannie wrote. ‘Many regards from Mamma.’

With the end of apartheid in 1990, Sandra felt her life was, at last, on an even keel, but that her lasting happiness depended on receiving forgiveness from her mother for having abandoned her.

After exhaustive inquiries, Sannie was traced to a retirement village outside Pretoria, less than an hour’s drive from Sandra’s home.

In January 2000, Sandra stood at the entrance to a visiting room twisting a white handkerchief in her hands.

An inner door opened and a nurse appeared, pushing an old woman in a wheelchair.

Sannie sat with her eyes downcast. ‘I was afraid she was still mad at me,’ says Sandra. ‘But Ma looked up and I saw that she still loved me.’

It was a joyful reunion, but the aftermath was marred by the fury of Sandra’s brothers.

Sannie, then aged 80, had suffered three strokes and Adriaan was convinced the shock of seeing Sandra could kill her. He and Leon blamed their sister for turning her back on the family.

In an angry phone call, Leon told Sandra she had broken their parents’ hearts.

‘He said that after I left home, my mother and father were never happy again. I had chosen not to be their sister and I had to lie on the bed I had made for myself, he said. I didn’t answer him. I just listened.’
No one told her that her mother had died

Despite their objections, Sandra returned to see Sannie several times. The last occasion was in July 2001, a month before her death.

No one told her that her mother had died until after the funeral, and Sandra is convinced that was because her brothers didn’t want her there.

Sandra has accomplished a great deal against all odds. Throughout her life, despite her many flawed choices, she has served her nation as a symbol of all that was irrational and inhumane about apartheid.

She has shepherded five children into adulthood, and maintains fiercely loving relationships with all of them. In Johannes, she’s finally found a kind-hearted soul mate.

Today, the skin that caused her so much trouble as a child remains unlined and unblemished.

The best thing that happened recently was when Leon called her to see how she and her family were doing.

‘It was nice,’ she says. ‘We just talked like brother and sister.’

Sandra still hopes that, one day, they will meet. ‘I’ll ask him to forgive me,’ she says.

She remains the one prepared to carry the blame for a family tragedy that was far beyond her control.

? When She Was White, The True Story Of A Family Divided By Race by Judith Stone (Miramax Books, £8.99). To order a copy (P&P free), call 0845 155 0720.

Unicef German Ad With White Girls Wearing Black Face

Written by admin on October 2nd, 2010 in Racism.

Several letters have been written about these ads. What do you think?

Colleagues,

I, as many people, have been shocked and disgusted by the advertising
campaign featuring German (white) children ‘blacked up’ in sympathy
for their ‘African’ counterparts. I have used my networks to forward
the link to your campaign as widely as possible, so there can be
absolutely no mistake or misunderstanding on your part – the advert is
unacceptable, and many people of all ethnicities within Germany and
outside are agreed about this. The Unicef Schools for Africa campaign
racist and patronising. I am pleased to hear it has been removed from
the Unicef website, however a lot of damage has been done.

Even in the response to the criticism, the German Committee for UNICEF
has displayed a profound lack of judgement and awareness of the
effects of racial and cultural stereotyping. It simply isn’t good
enough to make sweeping judgements about “the children in Africa”,
“the schools in Africa”, “the teachers in Africa”… Africa is a
vast continent, as varied and diverse as any other continent in the
world – perhaps even more so.

I would like more information about the discussions that were had
surrounding the possible misinterpretations of the advertisment – what
was there to misinterpret? In your advert you are showing that
children from Germany are white (that German = white) – and these
white children show solidarity with African children, presumably all
Black, by colouring their faces – please explain?

From the little I know about some aspects of white German culture
(Children’s Book Struwwelpeter springs to mind) being Black is seen to
be something of a curse, something to be pitied, “they can’t help it
if they are Black” – so perhaps these white children colouring their
faces shows solidarity for how unfortunate it is to be Black? It
isn’t clear to me, or other people I have discussed this with, how
else to interpret this visual statement.

And now that this error in judgement has occurred, what is the public
relations exercise going to look like in order to correct the
misinformation that has been spread by this campaign? In the UK it is
common for apologies to be carried in the newspapers were those errors
occured. I would suggest this as a possible way forward. I would
suggest that these apologies should be as large as the original
adverts, that they contain a proper explanation about why the adverts
were offensive and finally, that Unicef at all levels of the
organisation and in every national committee agrees unequivocally on
this advertising campaign should simply not have happened.

I look forward to your response.

Sharon Otoo

www.talentedtenth.co.uk

———

To Whom It May Concern at UNICEF and JVM,

I am deeply disturbed– horrified– by your recent ad campaign
utilizing white children in blackface to “support” aid to Africa (?).
It is unclear to me how you find this stereotypical, white supremacist
racist treatment of the children of Africa to be helpful to them.
Clearly it is not obvious to you that coating white children’s faces
in mud does NOT effectively express their solidarity with African
children. In fact, painting the children of an entire continent as
uneducated, and utilizing blackface does NOT help those children. It
demeans them and perpetuates racist notions of blackness.
It also serves to hide the legacy of colonialism that has put former
colonies in the economic situations they face today, the situations
that make UNICEF relevant. Policies that the European Union supports,
including the work of the World Bank and IMF, establish the economic
dependence of former colonies on their colonizers, effectively
recolonizing them. Your use of blackface and descriptions of the lack
of education of Africans (all Africans can be lumped together,
apparently) obscures the role of your target demographics in the
ongoing colonization of the global South. It perpetuates the notion of
the “white man’s burden”.

Portraying “blackness” the way you have is counter to everything that
I have believed UNICEF to stand for. I will actively work to educate
others of the racist ideas UNICEF supports until there has been a
public apology made. I am going to publish this letter in as many
sources as possible.

Susan Wilcox, Ed.D., Co-Executive Director
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
512 West 143 Street
New York, NY 10031

——

To Whom It May Concern at UNICEF and JVM,

I am quite shocked by your recent ad campaign showing white children in blackface supposedly to show solidarity with African children.

Do you not see how demeaning blackface is? Do you really think putting mud on children’s faces will help them understand the issue of education in Africa? How can you use such a grossly stereotypical, demeaning and racist depiction?

The message you are sending is that mud = blackness = uneducated. Shame on you.

Portraying “blackness” the way you have is counter to everything that I have believed UNICEF to stand for. I will actively work to educate others of the racist ideas UNICEF supports until there has been a public apology made. I am going to publish this letter in as many sources as possible.

Janice Stashwick
Civil Rights Advocate
Access Living
115 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60610

——-

To Whom It May Concern at UNICEF and JVM,

Your recent ad campaign in ignorant and racist. How can pictures of white children smeared in dark paint be seen as humanitarian? Unintentional or not, the effect is the degradation of Black people and children. It perpetuates racist notions of blackness and hides the legacy of colonialism that has put former colonies in the economic situations they face today, the situations that make UNICEF relevant.

Your use of blackface and descriptions of the lack of education of Africans (all Africans can be lumped together, apparently) obscures the role of your target demographics in the
ongoing colonization of the global South. It perpetuates the notion of
the “white man’s burden”.

Portraying “blackness” the way you have is counter to everything that I have believed UNICEF to stand for. I will actively work to educate others of the racist ideas UNICEF supports until there has been a public apology made. I am going to publish this letter in as many sources as possible.

Please remove the campaign, issue an international apology, and replace it with a more accurate and humanitarian message. Otherwise, you will lose supporters – such as myself – across the world by the hundreds of thousands.

Sincerely, M. Fu

****

July 24th

numerous reactions from PoC on american page “racialicious” HERE

The UNICEF ads of the white Germans in blackface are racist and need to be taken down immediately. First of all, the debate equates blackness with “mud” and makes all Africans seem uneducated. It also posits the whites as educated. It is condescending, racist and offensive.

Sai

Hello. I’d like to start by apologizing for not writing this in German
and thanking you for taking the time to read this.

I’m sure you’ve received a number of e-mails, phone calls and letters
concerning your recent Unicef campaign featuring children with mud
“blackface”. Truth be told I don’t know a great deal about racial
relations in Europe, I simply assumed they are much better over there
than they are here in America. Perhaps it is because of this that the
use of blackface isn’t as taboo in Germany as it is America. Here the
use of black face conjures memories of white comedians who used black
paint to make fun of oppressed black people and enforce some very
negative stereotypes.

However my concern is geared more towards the words used in your
campaign than it is the mud “blackface”. I’m sure you had the best
intentions in mind when you came up with the campaign, seeking to
illicit as many donations as possible. Still, it is somewhat off putting
that you would trivialize the current state of the education system in
Africa. It may not be up to the high standards of your fine country but
they are far from having no schools or being as uneducated as your
advertisement may lead people to believe.

Unicef does good work, I’ve donated both my time and money to them in
the past. I would be honored to continue doing so. I am of the opinion
that this particular advertisement campaign is in need of some editing.
It’s true the mud “blackface” gets attention, and I’m sure the
controversy surrounding this campaign will get people talking, but
probably not in a positive way. Despite the negative feelings associated
with “blackface” I think the pictures themselves will be useful in
generation hype and getting them seen. So perhaps if you could just make
the text that accompanies them a little less offensive and more thought
provoking it would make this campaign even more beneficial to your
worthy and noble cause.

Once again I’d like to thank you for your time and apologize for not
writing this in German.

Sincerely,

Andrew S. Reed

—-

Colleagues,

I, as many people, have been shocked and disgusted by the advertising
campaign featuring German (white) children ‘blacked up’ in sympathy
for their ‘African’ counterparts. I have used my networks to forward
the link to your campaign as widely as possible, so there can be
absolutely no mistake or misunderstanding on your part – the advert is
unacceptable, and many people of all ethnicities within Germany and
outside are agreed about this. The Unicef Schools for Africa campaign
racist and patronising. I am pleased to hear it has been removed from
the Unicef website, however a lot of damage has been done.

Even in the response to the criticism, the German Committee for UNICEF
has displayed a profound lack of judgement and awareness of the
effects of racial and cultural stereotyping. It simply isn’t good
enough to make sweeping judgements about “the children in Africa”,
“the schools in Africa”, “the teachers in Africa”… Africa is a
vast continent, as varied and diverse as any other continent in the
world – perhaps even more so.

I would like more information about the discussions that were had
surrounding the possible misinterpretations of the advertisment – what
was there to misinterpret? In your advert you are showing that
children from Germany are white (that German = white) – and these
white children show solidarity with African children, presumably all
Black, by colouring their faces – please explain?

From the little I know about some aspects of white German culture
(Children’s Book Struwwelpeter springs to mind) being Black is seen to
be something of a curse, something to be pitied, “they can’t help it
if they are Black” – so perhaps these white children colouring their
faces shows solidarity for how unfortunate it is to be Black? It
isn’t clear to me, or other people I have discussed this with, how
else to interpret this visual statement.

And now that this error in judgement has occurred, what is the public
relations exercise going to look like in order to correct the
misinformation that has been spread by this campaign? In the UK it is
common for apologies to be carried in the newspapers were those errors
occured. I would suggest this as a possible way forward. I would
suggest that these apologies should be as large as the original
adverts, that they contain a proper explanation about why the adverts
were offensive and finally, that Unicef at all levels of the
organisation and in every national committee agrees unequivocally on
this advertising campaign should simply not have happened.

I look forward to your response.

Sharon Otoo

www.talentedtenth.co.uk

**********

Earlier letters (July 10th):

Unicef and Jung von Matt:

Thanks to (…) I was recently made aware of an advertising campaign created by your organizations that sought to seek support for education for children in Africa. While the intent of this project is quite laudable, I’m afraid both your organizations went about crafting the campaign in ways that not only highlight some of the stereotypical attitudes that many in the West have toward Africa and Africans but in an ironic turn point to the very attitudes many have about Germans and Germany. Neither is fair.

It is true that the problems facing those living on the African continent are many and that assistance is greatly needed particularly in matters concerning the education. Yet I cannot understand why you chose to place mud on the faces of children in order to solicit funds for this cause. Are Germans so ignorant of the situation in Africa that a crude, racist costume is required to convey this information? Or is this simply how Unicef and the Jung von Matt advertising agency think of Africans?

In the future, might I suggest that your organization, as Europeans in general and Germans in particular, exercise a little more cultural sensitivity when embarking on a campaign to aid those less fortunate than yourselves wherever they may reside. As you know all of us can easily be mocked by costume but the challenge is to see the humanity we share. I hope you can do better next time.

Marcus Dalzine, Esq.
New York, NY

Dear Representatives or Unicef,

I am absolutely disgusted by your “UNICEF-Anzeigenserie Schulen für Afrika!” (http://www.unicef.de/4500.html)

How on earth can you create a connotation of black children being represented by white children with DIRT in their faces! This makes me sick.

How do I explain this to my little daughter (4), who is suffering enough because she is made to want to be white in our society? Do you want to me explain that her being black is just like “having dirt in your face”??? What are her white school mates going to make of it, the next time there is an argument?

I can”t even give you the credit of “it was well meant” because an organisation like UNICEF should know better. At best I can give you and your advertising agency (Agentur Jung von Matt/Alster) the excuse of utter ignorance! At worst I have to accuse you of a notion of white supremacy and disrespect for other peoples!

For the sake of my daughter and out of respect to being different I would ask you to not feature this ad as it is offensive and hurtful to many people!

Your sincerely,

Andrew Naughton

BLACK and white twins Hayleigh and Lauren Durrant proudly hold their new sisters Leah and Miya — who incredibly are ALSO twins with different coloured skin.

Their mixed-race parents Dean Durrant and Alison Spooner repeated the two-tone miracle after a seven-year gap.

 

Ebony and ivory ... Alison and Dean Durrant with two sets of twins - Hayleigh and Leah on left, and Lauren holding Miya

Ebony and ivory … Alison and Dean Durrant with two sets of twins – Hayleigh and Leah on left, and Lauren holding Miya

 

When the first set of twins arrived in 2001, the couple were astonished to see that Lauren took after her white mum, with blue eyes and red hair, while Hayleigh had black skin and hair like dad Dean.

Then this year Alison, 27, found she was expecting again — and lightning struck twice.

She had twin girls again. And little Miya was born with dark skin like her dad and Leah is white like former recruitment consultant Alison.

Dean, 33, of Fleet, Hants, said: “The girls just love Miya and Leah to bits.

Delighted

“We didn’t think it was even possible when we had Lauren and Hayleigh — and it didn’t cross our minds that it could happen again. But we are just delighted that it has.”

 

Early days ... Hayleigh and Lauren in 2002

Early days … Hayleigh and Lauren in 2002

 

Alison said: “I was shocked when I first found out I was pregnant with twins again — but I never thought for one second they would turn out the same as last time.

“After the babies were born they weren’t breathing properly, so they were taken to a special care unit.

“It wasn’t until about five days after they were born that we saw them side by side for the first time.

“And when they were together it was clear that one was darker than the other. It was unbelievable.”

Staff at Frimley Park Hospital, in Surrey, decided to deliver the babies by Caesarean section after just 37 weeks of pregnancy, when scans revealed both were breach.

Doctors took 30 minutes to deliver them on November 13, with Miya weighing 4lb lloz and Leah 5lb 10oz.

Alison said: “Now the girls are back home with us and are very healthy. Lauren and Hayleigh think the new arrivals are fantastic.”

Block paver Dean said: “It was a real shock to the system when I found out we were having twins again. I didn’t think the same thing would happen again. The odds must be millions to one against it.

Friends

“It was really stressful when they were first born, because they were being kept in different parts of the hospital, and the difference in shade wasn’t apparent.

 

Keen reader ... Hayleigh

Keen reader … Hayleigh

Solent News & Photo Agency

 

“I was running around all over the place between Alison and the girls and when we finally got them all together it was the first time I noticed the difference.

“I could tell straight away that one was darker than the other. But it wasn’t as much of a shock as last time, as we had already been in this situation once.”

He went on: “Leah and Miya are so small they haven’t been out much yet — but some people have looked at us a little bit funny when we’re with Lauren and Hayleigh due to the colour difference.

“Looking so different has never caused them any problems and I’m sure it won’t for Leah or Miya either. When people see Alison and I they tend to realise why our children are different.

 

Tomboy ... Lauren

Tomboy … Lauren

Solent News & Photo Agency

 

“The most important thing is THEY know who their parents are. It doesn’t matter what anyone else might think.”

Alison agreed: “Everyone knows who their mum and dad is and it doesn’t cause any problems — why should it?

“We’ve had the odd comment from people about how different Lauren and Hayleigh look.

“Children at school used to say to them, ‘You can’t be twins because you’re different colours’.

“Some of the other mums didn’t believe they were twins either at first but then they see Dean and I together and realise.”

Dean added: “Having two sets of twins is absolutely hectic and we haven’t even had a chance to work out how much it will cost us.

“Thankfully we’ve had girls again, so we have some things put aside from when Lauren and Hayleigh were little. Friends and family are all offering help as well.”

 

 

Mixed emotions ... Durrant family

Mixed emotions … Durrant family

Solent News & Photo Agency

 

Little Lauren said: “Me and Hayleigh are really good friends and we really enjoy playing puzzles together. It’s very exciting having two new baby sisters as well.”

Mixed twins are rare — but back in 2006 The Sun tracked down the parents of FOUR sets.

Terri and Malcolm Rayhaman, of Cricklewood, North London, were convinced there had been a mix-up in the IVF clinic when their tots were born.

Fair-skinned Luca was followed by his dark sister Marina.

Terri said: “It was such a dramatic difference. But as soon as I held Marina I knew she was mine.” Malcolm, the darker of the two, has a Turkish mother.

A couple from Basingstoke, Hants, had twin boys Oliver, who was dark skinned and Boyd, who was white. Mum Claire is white and dad Spencer is of mixed race.

Kylie Hodgson, of Nottingham gave birth to blonde, fair-skinned Remee and twin sister Kian, who is black, in 2006. Both parents were of mixed race.

And Kerry Richardson, of Middlesbrough, Teesside, told of her two-tone twin boys.

Layton is like his dad who is white. Kaydon is more like his mum, who is of English-Nigerian heritage.

Kerry said: “Everywhere we go you can see people looking and you can tell they are dying to comment. I have to explain they really ARE twins.”

 

Musical differences

AS well as different skin colours, Hayleigh and Lauren have totally different personalities and interests, mum Alison said.

 

The only thing the seven-year-old girls have in common is that they both dream of being in a pop band and becoming superstars when they are teenagers.

Hayleigh

SHE loves High School Musical and sings and dances.

But she can quietly curl up with a book.

She likes to dress up in bright colours and to look adult.

Her favourite food is spaghetti bolognese but she will “eat anything”.

Lauren

SHE is on the go all day and will happily help her mum with housework if she has nothing to do.

She is a tomboy who wears jeans and T-shirts and old trainers.

She loves Hannah Montana and scoffing pizza or curry.

African-American children who experience discrimination run a high risk for emotional problems, according to a recent report released by Iowa State University researchers.

“Kids who experience discrimination, or see it happening to their parents or other family members, are at a high risk for depression,” says Ron Simons, director of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research at Iowa State University. “Symptoms of depression include sleeping problems, feeling sad, worthless, listless or suicidal.”

Since 1997, researchers have interviewed and observed 870 African-American families in 41 communities in Iowa and Georgia. Simons says the research is an expansion of the Iowa Youth and Families Project, which began studying rural families in Iowa during the farm crisis of the 1980s.

The families included in the study have at least one child in fifth grade. “Our goal,” Simons says, “is to identify how family and community processes combine to influence children as they grow up and start their own families.”

Researchers interviewed families every other year and use the interim year to process data. An early finding in the study illustrated some of the negative effects of discrimination.

Researchers also studied how families dealt with discrimination when it did occur. Simons says some kids are taught that they will never get a fair break. Others are taught to expect problems but that they can be

“There is great variability regarding what children learn about race relations. We are just in the process of looking at how these ideas affect children’s psychological development,” Simons says.

The research also focuses on how relationships in the community influence children. Throughout the study, Simons found truth in the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When there were strong social ties among adults living in a community, researchers found fewer conduct and delinquency problems with children. Researchers refer to the phenomenon as “collective socialization.”

“Kids tend to behave themselves when they are out in public because they may run into someone they know,” Simons says. “Even when their parents are not doing a great job, kids tend to do pretty well if they live in this kind of community. That’s one of the more exciting early findings from the study.”

The intensive interviewing process costs approximately $1.5 million per year and is funded through the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol abuse.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

Hague Convention Could Restrict Intercountry Adoptions

Written by admin on October 5th, 2007 in Adoption.

 The Hague Convention comes into force in the U.S. in 2007/2008

For the U.S., adoption is a two-way street

As Newsweek wrote in “Sending Babies Abroad”, Nov. 13, 2006, not only do Americans welcome around 22,000 children a year from abroad, they also send their children to be adopted by families abroad, though in far lesser numbers: under 300 a year, adoption specialists estimate. (The State Department doesn’t track outgoing cases.) In 2005 Canadians adopted 102 U.S. children (a jump of over 30% from the previous year). Families in the Netherlands adopted 31 U.S. children in 2003, almost triple the number from just two years before.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these children are black and biracial infants whose birthmothers believe they’ll face less prejudice abroad. “Birthmothers are being told race issues aren’t as prevalent in those countries as they are here, so they’re choosing to send their children to countries like Canada,” said Richard Fischer, publisher of Adoption Today magazine.


A Question of Finalizing When Canadians adopt abroad, many countries make the adoption legal in a court of that country (finalized abroad). But for certain countries — Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand — the adoption order is granted in a Canadian court in your home province (finalized in Canada).Both methods apply for U.S. adoptions; it depends on the state. Many states allow finalizing in Canada. Some states (only a few) call for adoptions to be finalized in a state court. And some states allow a choice — finalize here or there.

The process for U.S. adoption is a bit complicated in Ontario, which has two laws on adoption: the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA, for adoptions finalized abroad) and the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA, for adoptions finalized in Ontario).

— If finalizing in-state, IAA applies and you must use an Ontario agency licensed for the U.S. Licenced agencies under IAA (with the country they serve) are at www.children.gov.on.ca/CS/en/programs/Adoption/Publications/IAAList.htm

— If finalizing in Ontario, CFSA applies, and you must use an Ontario licensee whose licence includes a term for the state in question. Licensees under CFSA are at www.children.gov.on.ca/CS/en/programs/Adoption/Publications/CFSALicenseesAgencies.htm

The situation for Ontarians could be further complicated if you apply to a lawyer or agency in one state, say non-IAA, and are then referred to a birth mother in another state requiring finalizing in that state, which would be an IAA placement. But no matter where finalizing happens, Ontarians must hire an Ontario agency/licensee as well as a U.S. agency/lawyer … possibly an expensive proposition. [ –Robin Hilborn, Family Helper, June 1, 2004]

Hague Convention could restrict U.S. adoptions

Fewer American children may be available to B.C. families, starting in 2006, according to the Vancouver Sun of May 7, 2005. While B.C. families have regularly been able to adopt children from the United States, new regulations could mean severe restrictions on whether American children are made available to Canadian families.

In 1994 the U.S. government signed an international agreement on adoption standards called the Hague Convention. Drafted in response to abuses that were taking place in intercountry adoption, the agreement set out several standards and regulations on adoptions and has been ratified by other countries, including Canada. In 2000 Congress passed the International Adoption Act, which incorporated the Hague Convention as law. The government wants trained, Hague-accredited agencies in place before enforcing the law.

The State Department published proposed regulations for accrediting U.S. international adoption agencies, as called for by the Hague Convention. By fall 2006 the State Department had identified the organizations which will accredit those agencies. Agencies are now being evaluated for accreditation. When they are approved, the State Department will announce their names and deposit the “Instrument of Ratification” with the Hague Central Office in the Netherlands. About four months later, the Hague Convention comes into force in the United States, in late 2007 or 2008.

Sunrise Adoption sees uncertainly in the new process

Provided that the final regulations are similar to those proposed now, Canadians will still be able to adopt from the U.S. after the Hague Convention comes into force in the U.S. Adoptions will be more regulated, slower and more expensive, but still possible, according to Sunrise Adoption in British Columbia. To follow how Hague rules will affect adoptions from the U.S. to Canada, see Sunrise’s coverage at “What’s happening with adoptions from the USA?“.

When the Hague rules apply, the contractual arrangements would be like this, according to Sunrise. In British Columbia, you would need to work with a licensed B.C. agency, which would contract with a (non-profit) “Hague Accredited Agency” in the U.S. to act as a consultant. In turn, the U.S. agency would be able to have a working relationship with certain for-profit corporations and attorneys. Because of the extra level of players, costs of adoption from the U.S. will go up.

Sunrise said that given the uncertainty in the adoption process once the Hague Convention comes into force, it will accept only a restricted number of applications for the U.S., and for only for a limited time. (Undated text; viewed May 24, 2007.)

Canadians are adopting black babies from the U.S.A. and on many forums people are writing as if it is sad that Canadians are adopting black children from the United States. 

Some are saying that it is bad because black children are cheaper to adopt than white children.  Some are saying that is is because adoption agencies can make more money on black children by selling them abroad than by selling them here in the U.S.A.  Some are saying that it is sad because they believe that black children are not desired by United States families, therefore there are couples abroad who do not have the same racial predjudices as Americans.

These negative thoughts are the basis for why people devalue or look at black children as something negative or plighted with destruction.  But the most destructive things for a black child is the thought processes of “good people” who come up with these suggestions.

Black children are beautiful, have a head full of hair, and are equipped to survive the harshest of lifestyles.  You will only be blessed to have an African American child no matter your color or your country.

Here is part of an article that I found and you can click the link to read the rest:

AUGUSTA—Dave Alexander and his wife, Juanita—exhausted but too excited to sleep—had just flown from Canada the night before to meet the newest member of their growing brood.

“There he is! There he is!” said Alexander, clasping a hand over his heart as he sees his youngest son for the first time. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

After trying unsuccessfully for years to have children of their own, the Alexanders, who live in British Columbia, are adopting their second son, Keiran, who is just a few weeks old.

Keiran and his older adopted brother, Elias, are black. The Alexanders are white. And while international and transracial adoptions are not new, this one has a twist on the trend of U.S. families adopting children from overseas.

The Alexanders are among a growing number of Canadian families—no one knows exactly how many—that have adopted African-American children from the United States.

Last year, more than 21,600 immigrant visas were issued to orphans coming to the United States, up from 20,099 in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Instances of international adoptions of American children are relatively rare, and numbers are hard to find. But several U.S. agencies have programs that place black children with families in Canada and elsewhere.

Keiran and Elias were placed through the Christian-based Open Door Adoption Agency in Thomasville, in South Georgia. The agency was founded in 1987 to provide an alternative to unplanned pregnancies.

Birth parents content

Open Door, which has staff in several Georgia cities, has placed more than 150 African-American children with Canadian families. The agency also has a program that places children from Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia with families in the United States.

http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2004/08/canadians_look.php

Adopt Black Children

Written by admin on October 5th, 2007 in Adoption.

adopt black children

Black children, which represent about 14 percent of the USA’s population, make up about 45 percent of the foster care program.  These children are not getting adopted as often as other groups.  The older they get, the harder it is to adopt. 

 Many white couples are adopting children.  And more middle class black families are adopting children.  But there is still a lot of work to be done to adopt black children.



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