Sandra Bullock Responds to Criticism She Faces for Adopting 2 Black Children
By Antoinette Bueno
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Sandra Bullock is opening up about the complexities surrounding raising her two children, 11-year-old Louis and 8-year-old Laila. The 57-year-old actress appeared on Wednesday's Red Table Talk and candidly discussed raising two Black children as a white woman.
Bullock adopted Louis in 2010 and revealed she adopted Laila in 2015. Bullock emotionally told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris that she felt her late mother, Helga Meyer, brought her her two children given that she was in the same exact place -- Jacksonville, Wyoming, where her mother got married -- both times she found out she was getting her kids. She acknowledged that it wasn't always smooth sailing, especially with Laila given that she was three years old when she adopted her and had some trauma due to going through the foster care system. She also acknowledged the difficulties in raising Black children as a white woman.
"As a white parent who loves her children more than life itself, I'm scared of everything," she said. "I know I'm laying all kinds of existential anxiety on them. I have to think about what they're going to experience leaving the home. They're gonna have my fear but how can I make sure that my anxiety is accurate, protective?"
Bullock said she was especially worried about her son, Louis.
"With Lou being a young Black man, at some point, sweet, funny Lou, is going to be a young man, and the minute he leaves my home, I can't follow him everywhere," she shared. "I will try. I'm joking, but I'm not. I don't know what I will do but I pray and I pray and I pray that I've done a good enough job, scared them sufficiently. I've been schooling Lou since he was six years old. He popped that hoodie on his head and I went, 'Ahhh.' I said, let me just explain. And I let him see everything. I let him process it. He knows how the world works. He knows how cruel it is, he knows how unfair it is, and now Laila's knowing it."
Bullock told an amusing story about Laila being upset at Netflix's Squid Game for not having any Black people in it.
"The fact that that was fire in her belly made me so happy that she was already voicing," she said. "And I let them teach me and tell me what they need to know. I thought I was educated and woke, I thought I had it all, and guess what? I wasn't."
The Oscar-winning actress said that nobody had ever criticized her to her face with regard to adopting two Black children but she has received racism surrounding the decision.
"But guess what? Your sickness is not my problem," she responded.
Banfield-Norris pointed out that not everyone's coming from a racist place, but rather, feel that it's better for a Black child to be raised in a Black home. However, she noted that she now felt that this was an "an old and tired" attitude. Bullock acknowledged the viewpoint and said that at the end of the day, she has the same feelings and thoughts as every mother.
"I know it's hard for people to look at a white woman going, 'I just have a hard time getting past that,'" she said. "I know they push up against that, and then they come into the home and I just go, let our [love] be the evidence. Because I'm still pissed in the morning when I go, 'I got you up at seven. I did everything right and still, you're late.' It's like, 'Laila, you know you're supposed to bring me the bag. I'm supposed to do your edges, now you're supposed to sit down. It takes maybe five seconds to do it, why are you taking away ....' It's chaos."
"And every parent has the same thing," she continued as the women laughed. "I'm like, come into our home and discover the every parent problem, you know? And to say that I wish our skins matched, sometimes I do. Because then it would be easier on how people approach us. It's our anxiety, it's our fear, it's our cross to bear the minute you become a mom. And I have the same feelings as a woman with brown skin being with her babies, or a white woman with, you know, white babies."
Willow later commented that she wished everyone didn't have to put a color on everything, and Bullock replied, "And maybe one day that will go away. Maybe one day we will be able to see with different eyes."
Bullock said she does get a lot of support from her boyfriend, Bryan Randall, whom she's been dating since 2015. She called him a "saint" and noted how "very patient" he's been with her. She shared that his whole life had been upended when he started dating her, and that he signed an NDA when he first photographed her son.
"He has evolved on a level that is not human," she marveled.
They hadn't been dating long when she decided to adopt Laila, but Bullock said he took the news in stride.
"He was so happy, but he was scared," she recalled. "I'm a bulldozer. My life was already on the track and here's this beautiful human being who doesn't want anything to do with my life, but, the right human being to be there."
"He's the example that I would want my children to have," she added. "I don't always agree with him, he doesn't always agree with me. But he is an example even when I don't agree with him."