The Art of Interracial Marriage

Married And Longing To Adopt

Married And Longing To Adopt

Interracial And Intercultural Marriage: Indian Woman and White Man

About

Allie is Indian, and she was born in Mumbai, India. She was raised in India, New Jersey, California, and Washington. Her husband, Andrew, is White (English and French ancestry). Andrew was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.

How They Met

Allie and Andrew have different accounts about how they met.  Allie’s take is that she was at a dance party called Dance Yourself Clean in Seattle, Washington. Most of her friends were sick of going with her, so she was there alone this night. Suddenly, a guy comes up and asks her to dance. Allie and the mystery man start talking, and she realizes he is pretty cute. They end up talking for hours. 

Allie swiftly found some “signs” that made her think there is something special about this mystery man named Andrew. First, his birthday is the same as her dad’s. Secondly, his name starts with an A (Allie always thought she would marry someone whose name would start with A). Last, when she asked him if he was allergic to dogs because she has a golden retriever, he said, “I am the exact opposite of allergic to dogs.” Allie had a list of ten criteria for the man she was going to marry, which she had written down about a year before. It turned out that Andrew met nine out of ten criteria. The one criterion he did not have was a cool tattoo.

On the other hand, Andrew’s take of their first encounter is a bit different. Andrew was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. One weekend he decided to go to Seattle to visit some friends, who suggested that they attend an indie electronica dance party. Andrew and his friends arrived way too early, around 9 PM, but they had a great time dancing nonetheless.

Many hours and a few drinks later, Andrew found himself in the middle of a mosh pit of sweaty men. As Andrew sought his way out, his eyes landed on this stunning woman who was standing just outside the circle of men. She was dancing on her own ( and she seemed perfectly content to be doing so).  Andrew hesitated, and then he asked her if she wanted to dance. To his surprise, she said yes, and they began to talk. They soon found out that they love a lot of the same music, have big dogs, and subscriptions to the New Yorker. At the end of the night, they exchanged numbers and, although Andrew had to return to Portland the next day, he had a good feeling that he would see her again.

How Long Have They Been Together

Andrew and Allie have been together for three years. They met while living in different cities. After two months, Allie and Andrew decided she would move to Portland, OR, while Andrew finished his residency. While they were living in Portland, Andrew matched with a hospital in New York City for his fellowship. So, Allie and Andrew and their dogs moved across the country in 2019. Andrew proposed in New York City, and they got married shortly after. As the saying goes, when you know, you know!

How Did Allie Tell Her Parents About Andrew

Allie had a big birthday party in Seattle. Her parents stopped by the party to say hi. Andrew, who was living in Portland at the time, surprised Allie by showing up. He had asked a fellow resident to cover his shift so he could drive up and spend 24 hours with her. He even threw her off the scent by sending Allie a fake Snapchat of him at work an hour before the party. She was shocked, and it is the best birthday surprise she has ever had. Still, she had this very intimidating task of introducing her new boyfriend to her parents and one of her favorite aunties. Allie was worried they wouldn’t think Andrew was a “suitable boy.” However, her family immediately liked him.  

How Did Andrew Tell His Parents About Allie

Shortly after Allie and Andrew met, his parents came to visit him for Christmas. Allie sent Andrew and his dog (Norm) Christmas gifts. Norm’s gift was a box of treats with a card that said, “To Norm, love Sandwich.” Andrew’s younger sister found this card, and the whole family was soon needling Andrew to find out more information. He tried to play it cool, but they could tell Allie was something special.

What Obstacles Have They Encountered As An Interracial And Intercultural Couple

For Allie, most of their obstacles have come from helping their families adjust expectations and understand neither of them will be assimilating to the other’s racial and cultural identities. Allie thinks it was difficult for Andrew’s family to not be the dominant culture for the first time. Allie’s mom was worried about her marrying outside of her culture.   The nice part is that a lot of those fears have been assuaged. Allie’s mom sees how they include both of their cultures/heritages and have built a home and life out of it. Her parents are pretty flexible (open to cultural fusions), having lived in the US for the past 25 years and built their own diverse community of friends.  So, when Allie and Andrew adopt, their baby will most likely be a different ethnicity, which means their home will grow to include and honor another culture and heritage. 

Andrew also attests that there has been some culture shock for his family. He sensed that his family was worried that Allie’s culture was supplanting his culture. Andrew noticed it happening early on because having an engagement party is an Indian tradition but is not a typical feature of white culture. Therefore, Indian culture shaped that event. 

Quite honestly, Andrew had not thought much about what he wanted his wedding to be like before they were engaged (in typical guy fashion). In contrast, Allie had particular ideas about how she wanted to get married. When they were planning their wedding, they tried to incorporate some elements of white weddings (such as exchanging vows and kissing the bride). Yet there are many more Indian traditions when it comes to weddings, so they took center stage. 

This resulted in Andrew having to make numerous phone calls to his family to reassure them that it was okay for him to choose a pundit and not a priest. It was okay that he was choosing to wear a sherwani instead of a suit. Ultimately, it has taken time for Andrew’s family to see that their home is an extension of both of their cultures. It is not an amalgamation where some parts of each are left out to make room for the other. For example, Allie and Andrew make sure to share with both of their families what they are doing to celebrate Diwali and Christmas. This way, both families can see that they are not choosing one culture over the other; they choose both.  

The Engagement Tips They Wish They Had

Andrew wishes they would have had their families meet before they got engaged. Not because he is old-fashioned. But he thinks the whole getting acquainted with each others’ cultures (more of an issue for his family) would have been out of the way. Since their families didn’t know each other, there was an awkward period overlapped with their engagement party’s festivities. 

Allie wishes they hadn’t told their families right away about their engagement. Andrew had sent both families a picture of the ring a few hours before he proposed. He was really excited; he had been waiting for the ring to get made, and he proposed less than 12 hours after picking it up). So both families knew right away, and it felt like many people immediately wanted to get involved with everything to do with their wedding, marriage, and relationship. It would have been nice to have some space just as a couple, let it sink, and enjoy the new status. 

 Advice To Other Couples In An Interracial And Intercultural Marriage

  • Define how you and your spouse do things by how you both want to, not by how your family wants you to. 
  •  Lots and lots of communication is vital.
  •  Always be a team, and decide things together. This is an equal partnership. 
  • Negotiate, understand, and trust each other when it comes to cultural differences. Try to approach a problem/conflict together instead of from opposing positions. 
  • When it comes to extended family or in-laws, remember that you have your own family (even if you don’t have kids), and you need to prioritize that family’s well-being and happiness.
  • You cannot change the way your family thinks, but you can change your own expectation of trying to convince them. Instead of spending your time trying to change their minds, spend your time showing them that you are happy doing things a new way and this is the way you have chosen, whether they approve or not. 
  • Similarly, you cannot control how your family behaves or what they say, but you can control how those words and behaviors impact you. 
  • When you start to identify your marriage as its own autonomous unit, you may feel some distance grow between you and your family. Still, it is necessary to draw those boundaries, so the sooner you do it, the better.

What They Love About Being In An Interracial And Intercultural Marriage

Allie is proud of her identity and who she is. She is grateful for having a partner who embraces her identity and never asks her to change or minimize who she is. Andrew is supportive and isn’t afraid to call out racism. Allie values that because it means Andrew sees her, all of her, not some white-washed version. Allie loves being in an interracial marriage because she is always learning. It’s helped her become more aware of herself and her beliefs and changed them as well — you know how people say, “We’ve always done it that way.” Well, neither of them accepts that as a good enough reason, so Allie appreciates when Andrew asks her questions or helps her consider things from a different angle. Allie admires and respects Andrew because of how intentional and thoughtful he is. It makes her slow down and to think things through. Because they are a team, they end up deciding together the best practice or approach. 

Andrew loves that he is always learning novel things from Allie. She teaches him new words in her family’s language, different types of food and challenges his perspectives and assumptions. 

What They Are Still Learning As An Interracial And Intercultural Couple

Andrew and Allie are still learning how their families operate, and it seems embedded more in racial/cultural differences than the individual. For example, in Allie’s family, people are forthright, and if they disagree, they argue straight to each other’s face. In her family, they don’t shy away from confrontation. While in Andrew’s family, people are conflict-averse, so people say one thing but probably feel a different way. It drives Allie crazy that people are not direct because the inconsistency seems unreliable. Therefore she is still learning how to navigate that kind of difference.

Moreover, Andrew has learned a lot about his identity as a white person in the past three years than in the preceding 27 years of his life. He believes it’s a testament to his level of privilege that he was unaware of the myriad of subtle ways he took his race for granted. It’s an ongoing process of learning because racism is an ever-present force in our society. When you begin to think of yourself and your wife as this perfect team, it’s disheartening when you go out in the world, and you’re constantly reminded that some people don’t see you and your partner as equals. Andrew is still learning how to deal with this dynamic outside the house and how to use his power and privilege as a white man to shift that dynamic for the benefit of his wife, people who look like her, and their future child.  

Seeking To Adopt A Child

Allie and Andrew are excited to start a family. They have talked about adopting a child since their second date. They both felt strongly about having a family and building one through adoption. Shortly after they moved to New York City, they started the process by researching and going to info sessions for different agencies. 

Allie feels called to adopt children of color: Black, indigenous/native, Asian, multiracial, so they have been doing a lot of reading on transracial adoption. She thinks BIPOC folks in the US have a strong sense of affinity. We are all connected and on the same team.

Growing up in the U.S.A. as a brown girl in what felt like a white world, Allie was always codeswitching and minimizing who she is for the comfort of people around her, usually white people. It was, and sometimes still is, an act of survival. Allie wants to raise her children to know and to be proud of their heritage/culture.

With this said, they both believe that there’s a lot to think about when it comes to adopting transracially. Andrew candidly wants to avoid being anything like the type of cringe-worthy White savior adoptive parents you hear about in the news. In a lot of ways, being in an interracial and intercultural marriage has prepared them well. They already learned to welcome each others’ cultures into their lives. The odds are that their baby will have a cultural heritage that is different from both of theirs.

How They Plan To Ensure Their Child Is Immersed In Their Culture(s)

Allie and Andrew genuinely want to nurture and embrace their child’s cultural heritage, and they understand that it will be a very active process. They want their child to have friends, pediatricians, teachers, and congresswomen who look like them and share their cultural values. That’s a huge reason why they want to stay in New York City. Andrew and Allie have a diverse group of friends, so they know their children will have all kinds of role models, some that look like them and some that do not. Andrew and Allie want to raise children who are compassionate with a strong sense of justice and equality. When they finally bring their baby home, they know they will also be bringing home another culture. They prioritize representing both of their identities in their home and life, and they know how good it feels to fully be seen . Thereby they are committed to prioritizing their children’s identity: their adoption story, ethnicity, and heritage. They want their child to know their full story.

Read more on their journey to adopt here: http://andrewallieadopt.com.

What Else They Want Others To Know And How To Help

Andrew is an infectious disease doctor here in New York City, and Allie is a math learning specialist/teacher at an independent school in New York.  If anyone feels like their story is worth sharing with others, they encourage them to do so.  Sharing and spreading the word might help them connect with an expectant mother. If someone is considering adoption or knows someone who is, they can check out their site and reach out to them if they want to.

Finally, they are also always trying to learn more, so if anyone has any stories, experiences, resources they would like to share about transracial adoption, they can email them at andrewallieadopt@gmail.com.

What did you think about Andrew and Allie’s story? Have a question for us? Write to us @growingupgupta@gmail.com! Thank you Allie and Andrew for writing to share you story!

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