In 1997, Becky Thompson began parenting nine-year-old Adrian at the request of his mother, and her life changed forever. Mothering without a Compass is the moving story of her first year as the white lesbian “sudden-mother” of an African American boy. From the everyday yet sometimes overwhelming tasks of finding Adrian a school and debating the significance of action figures, to unexpected discussions about who pays whom at the sperm bank, to the more complicated matters of racism, sexuality, nontraditional families, open adoption, love, and loss, Thompson gives us an absorbing and often humorous account of her attempt at antiracist, multicultural parenting.
Mothering without a Compass highlights a range of issues and experiences: Thompson’s desire to be a good mother while holding on to her sense of self; her growing, detailed knowledge of the ways in which racism affects people’s feelings about themselves and the world around them; her increasing appreciation of the inner life of a child; her realization that mothering forces her to confront her own vulnerabilities and past losses. The book opens with Adrian’s arrival and ends with a visit from Adrian’s biological mother, during which she and Thompson search for ways to respect each other as parents across racial, religious, and cultural divides. Mothering without a Compass relates a lesbian parent’s struggle to help her child grow up and describes the complexities facing children who have more than one family. This candid, personal story shows that it is through everyday life that questions about race, class, gender, and sexuality are often played out. It is a necessary book for all parents-for anyone concerned with the challenge of raising justice-minded children in a complicated world.
Mothering without a Compass is available for purchase on Amazon.