One Family: Two Suicides

There’s also a flip side. As I’ve said, most people adopt not merely out of the love they have for children, but because they cannot have children. It’s their plan B. It is what it is. But even if it were not so, if only 1% of White people in South Africa can be classified as poor vs 64% of Black people, who is more likely to AFFORD to adopt? And WHY are my people so poor? We won’t go there.

So when I see comments in adoption groups stating, “Why don’t they accept us adopting Black children. THEY don’t do it!” It makes me mad. Your people made us poorer than you are. And only very few of you even adopt anyway, so besides the ones who have anti-adoption beliefs, they can’t. You made sure of that.

And yes, it’s possible to be a racist White and yet adopt a Black child. There’s a White female judge who made the comment that it’s Black ‘culture’ to rape. Nope! We don’t claim that! Next thing you know, the newspaper has dug up her Black daughter who was now defending her, saying how she took her in and therefore can’t be racist.

Oh yes, she can. Look at my dead by suicide young friend. I met her online in an adoption group in 2016. She wrote to me after reading my posts. She loved my family, even offered to send money for therapy for my son! She lived in an area full of White farmers. She was one of seven adoptees. She had a Coloured sister, a Black brother, and the rest of the adopted siblings were White. She was grateful to have been adopted. Isn’t that what we all think they should feel? Grateful? She had been abused in the children’s home. Was adopted at six years old. She knew isiZulu at the time of her adoption but her parents quickly drove her language out of her. After all, it’s not like they knew or spoke or cared to speak their daughter’s language. Or, it’s not like they knew or cared to speak an African language. Oh no, it’s African’s jobs to learn and speak a non-African language!

She and her Coloured sister were treated badly in the mostly-White schools they were in. Sadly, her parents would go fight bullying but it never occurred to them that race was the reason they were being bullied. Nor did it occur to them that the very teachers they were complaining to could also be racist. They never saw that their children were Black living in a South Africa in which Black people are viewed as sub human by those like them. They ended up being homeschooled.

What puzzles me and saddens me is that she lived a double life. Publicly, she spoke glowingly of her father. Of his sense of humour, his jokes… But privately, it was a whole other story. Pain. Wishing she had never been born. Not only was her family calling Black people all sorts of derogatory names, but her biological family was not being family either. Her birth mother rejected her even at age 18 when you’re meant to be able to meet. She refused to even send her a picture. Years after being rejected and constantly begging just to meet one time, it turned out she was a product of rape and her mother didn’t want to ever see her. When she contacted her other biological relatives, they said things like, “Oh, are you the one adopted by those rich white people?” When she needed a kidney (She had lupus and was terminal), the match was her biological sister. Her biological uncle demanded payment for the kidney! Her biological grandmother came to stay with her and her sister after transplant, but her granny only knew the isiZulu that had been taken from her, so they could not communicate.

She had bipolar disorder and confessed that it wasn’t controlled because she didn’t always take her medication. And when she went low, she went low. Both she and her Coloured sister had tried to commit suicide before her sister succeeded. She was 18 when she walked into the house and found her sister hanging. She was still alive, gurgling. She tried to lift her to reduce the weight on her neck. She yelled for help, but they were alone… She screamed for help, but nobody came. She held her sister up till she couldn’t anymore, and she died in her arms.

She lost the only sister of Colour she had. The other sisters were all blonde, one is a model. Meanwhile, she hated her stereotypically African features-her body shape and skin.

Her parents were both admittedly racist. It took a long time for her mother to see her faults. Her mother was also dying of cancer but was stable. One morning, she saw missed calls from her mother, saw calls coming in, but she figured she’d call back later. Except later never came. Her mom had a huge stroke after being taken to hospital with a horriffic headache and died. Cancer ended up not being her cause of death. The time she thought she had with her mother was cut even shorter and she had the guilt of knowing she ignored her mother’s calls.

Her parents and relatives were so racist that her grandmother, more enlightened than her own son, joined a radical political party called the EFF. They are fully pro-Black. Want the land back from White people, are communist and wherever there’s racism, they are there to protest. Unfortunately, they have a penchant for looting or destroying. Her grandmother joined the party to make a point. That’s how badly racist my young friend’s father was.

I met her when she was 21 years old. She said I felt like a mother to her when she came down to Cape Town and we met. We were with other adoptive moms but I was the only Black one. She followed me around..even coming to a bedroom when I changed a baby’s diaper. I felt she was so lost. I didn’t know…

I didn’t know that her father was using racial slurs in front of her. I didn’t know that when there were community meetings regarding farm attacks, that her dad would drag her along, take her to go confront the Black policeman and use racial slurs, while using her to prove that he’s not racist. I didn’t know that she felt she didn’t belong with her family. She didn’t belong. She was Black, but didn’t know Black culture, didn’t even understand a Black language. (Something my children will deal with too because their dad and I don’t speak each other’s language and I don’t even have a solid one because my own parents too spoke different African languages to each other and English to me.)

Her Black brother couldn’t handle her father’s racism. He left home. He got rid of his White name and took back his Black name and surname. She did take her Black first name but wasn’t as tied to it given it was given by a woman who wanted nothing to do with her. But she did want to assert her Blackness.

Last year, she committed suicide. We just heard through the grapevine. Her family disappeared off social media. Well, except for the model. She had adopted a little girl. We don’t know where she is. They didn’t hold a funeral for her that we know of. They (family) didn’t let us hold even virtual funerals or memorials for her as friends. It’s one thing to be private, it’s another to not allow others to mourn your child. That sends out a pretty strong message! She was very well known and loved. She attended adoptee meetings, she was a moderator with me in an adoption group, she had a huge following online.

Yet they didn’t let us honour her.

They didn’t tell us how she died, who found her, when exactly.. They didn’t let us know if there would be a funeral, where her grave is. And they didn’t let us mourn her as a community that loved her.

It was worse than if they’d lost a dog.

Dead silence. Like she never existed.

A White adoptive mom and I have never been at ease. What did they do with her Black daughter? Did they send her back again into foster care at age 6 or so?? Why is her one sister so quiet about her on Instagram, as if she never existed?

There was a family photo her sister posted. All lily White. What about the Black brother? I said he’d left, but when the mom’s cancer moved to stage 4, he returned, helping to care for the younger siblings. Did they not count him as family?

We don’t understand the veil of secrecy. To us, it says she indeed was not valued by her father. He knew she lived a very public life, but he kept her death so secret. He knew we all knew about her little girl, but he has kept her from us. All I have are photos she sent me. I’d made a bib set and sent it to her. I loved that little girl from when she arrived as a baby. What about her White teen sister’s baby that she had also adopted? Where is she?? Did they keep the White baby but send the Black one away? Or is she there cared for by ‘who knows?’ Is she being comforted and held, having lost two mothers now? Or is she confused and lost?

Why didn’t they allow us to acknowledge my young friend lived..and died?

Why did they want to erase her just like she felt erased in life?

My friend and I posted in a group set up in her memory. It was the mouthpiece of her family though. We were acknowledging that it had been a year since we lost her.

Our posts were not approved.

It was on Friday.

Why? Why have they erased her? I don’t know why she eventually killed herself. She had a lot going on. Bipolar, post-transplant ill-health. But she also had grief. Her granny who’d joined the anti-White party had died a few months before she committed suicide.

Was that the trigger?

She was married to a White woman who didn’t really understand racism and the Black experience. She said her first year married was extremely hard and painful but didn’t give specifics.

Was THAT loneliness the trigger?

Was it guilt? Heartache? Grief from all the losses? (When her biological mother died, she was not allowed to attend the funeral.) A monetary lapse due to not taking her medication? Did she leave a letter? Tell anyone in the family how she felt?

I don’t know.

All I know is that she told me she wished she was a strong Black woman who could write her truth like I did. But she wasn’t. She said she was a “scared, young woman who would always defend her racist father.”

This was adoption gone wrong. And evidence that racists can adopt.

I wish my heart didn’t hurt so bad.

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