Sharing Our Stories
Your stories are at the core of the Strong Families Initiative. These stories help inform our work, informing our policy, advocacy and organizing work. Check out some of our most recent Strong Families stories!
My family includes my mom, dad, younger sister, and me. I was the first in our Chinese immigrant family to be born in America. What makes us strong is our unspoken love. The ways that we care for one another are incongruent with what's portrayed in American culture as the "correct" way to love. "I love you" is rarely spoken, and hugs, kisses, and other physical displays of affection are infrequent. Despite this, the sacrifices my parents make for my younger sister and me are irrefutable displays of their selfless devotion. My father labors 16-hour workdays to provide for his family. My mom spends frugally so that my sister and I have money to spend on things that make us happy. She insists on eating leftovers while leaving the good food for her family. My parents have worked long days and nights for their children to live the ever-popular "American Dream." However, the way my family cares for each other has been regarded as cold and unfeeling (as portrayed by the media, or internalized by many second generation children growing up in America). My family is strong. We need better representations of Asian families. The current standards for strong families don't take into account cultural differences. We need structural support networks that bridge gaps between non-English speaking parents and the social institutions that dictate much of their children's lives, more open-mindedness and eradication of stereotypes, and policies that understand that families are different. Different does not equal dysfunctional.
My family includes myself, my partner, and our daughter, who I carried and who is an American citizen. My partner and I have been in a committed relationship for 11 years. My partner is a U.S. citizen. In 1998, when I was 19 years-old, I came on my own to the United States on a student visa, got a Bachelor's degree, then a Master's degree, and switched to a work visa. I now work full-time in neuroscience. I also volunteer as a court-appointed advocate in my "free" time. I would say that I'm an active and productive member of society, not to mention a contributing taxpayer. To this day, I am still waiting for my priority date to come up so I can receive my green card. If my partner and I were of opposite sexes, I could have already obtained my citizenship years ago through marriage. We also had to go through a very intrusive and costly adoption process for the child we are raising together. Because we aren't of opposite sexes, we weren't allowed to add our two names to the birth certificate. Our family is strong because no matter what anyone says we are a family, and we are proud of our accomplishments. My family needs to be accepted. We need equal protection under the law, marriage equality, and immigration reform. My family needs no more discrimination.
My family includes myself, my son, and my ex-husband, who is my son's dad. Both my son's dad and I each have partners, who do not live in the house. We chose to co-habitate because we thought it would be in the best interest of our son to do so. My ex-husband and I do not share financial resources, although we split household expenses, in the way that any housemates would. I do not get any child support from my ex-husband, because our son lives with both of us -- even more than the traditional "50/50" joint-custody arrangement of "traditional liberal" divorces. I am, in effect, a single mother. However, I have been underemployed for nearly 2 years. Because our living arrangement is considered "alternative" in the eyes of "the system," it is very difficult for me to access resources (e.g., food stamps, utilities assistance, etc.) that would be available to me if I lived in a completely separate residence from my ex-husband. They insist that because my ex-husband and I live in the same house, I need to include his income in my case -- even though I don't get any income from him. The system, as it is currently structured, encourages us to break up this family unit that is working for all of us. My son is very happy because he gets to live with both of his parents all the time. My family needs a significant -- and much more flexible -- redefinition of a "household."
My family includes my two younger sisters. Growing up, we struggled and did not have a good relationship with my parents. We lived with only my mom. She has long battled with alcohol and drug addiction, which took up a lot of our money and was really emotionally difficult for my sisters and me. However, we are STRONG because we learned how to take care of each other and to overcome the adversity in our lives. Today we have a much better relationship with our parents, but my sisters continue to be my main support system. My family needs better health care along with childcare and systemic support to help low-income families and others struggling with illness.
- Sierra, 25 yrs old, San Francisco
My family includes my brother, my father and I. My family is strong because we have survived my mother's incarceration. My family needs free counseling and referrals/access to drug rehab facilities as well as national policy education on treatment instead of incarceration possibilities.
- Ayrica, Albuquerque
My strong family is me and my children. I am sole provider for them. I am a single mom who is of Samoan descent. I'm American born actually from San Francisco. My children are my main focus. Because I just got laid off, my family needs-- my children always need medical care and insurance, which I didn't have as a working mother. They need access to healthier foods. Organic food is very expensive. For survival, I have to buy the food that is cheap and really not good for us. That's the thing that is my goal for my children, access to healthier foods and a healthier lifestyle.
- Violet, San Francisco (transcribed from video)
My family is my four children. I have four older step-children and grandchildren. A lot of times my older step children come live with me in my home. They struggle through. There's a real need for housing. It's good to have them come and reconnect, but it's hard. They need adequate housing. Housing is such an important need. They also need healthy relationship support to learn what healthy relationships are, and there's so much work to end domestic and sexual violence in the world. It's just everywhere. We need more resources to support the healing work we're doing with our family.
- Beverly (transcribed from video)
My family looks like my community. It's me my best friend and her son a couple of dogs and a lot of other queer people that work together to raise this child. She needs help she's a single mom. A policy that would help our family is a policy that includes people that you're not interested in being romantically involved with but a collective of folks that are looking to raise individuals or raise each other. That goes for housing right adoptive rights, and parenting rights.
- Tai (transcribed from video)
I am the founder and Executive Director of AFAAD, Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora. I am Afropina, Black and Philippina. I was adopted transracially into a white family. My family consists of my adopted and birth family and my extended family which is my family of adoptees. My family of adoptees is strong because we come together and support one another when we need each other when we don’t have anyone to talk to about what it means to be separated from our birth families, the loss that comes from being separated, and some of the grief that comes from that. We're strong because we come together around supporting both domestic and transracial adoptees, people who are adopted from out of the country. What I would've needed when I was growing up as a transracial adoptee is someone to talk to about what it meant to be a black girl in a white family. I think it's hard sometimes for white people to talk about race and admit that they don't know everything about race. I think it's really important as a young black woman to have had other people around me to talk to me about what was happening to me when I was going to school or out in the community. That's what I would have needed.
- Lisa (transcribed from video)
My family is strong because of our unconditional willingness to love and support each other regardless of the circumstances. That was something that was instilled in me from a very young age. I was raised at the beginning by a single mother who was escaping an abusive relationship and remarried someone who really had the choice to become a father. It wasn't his responsibility. I wasn't biologically related to him, but he came into my life and became my role model and support system by choice. That really taught something special about family, that it’s not just about a biological connection. It's about choosing to support and love one another and be there for each other. That's really what my family taught me. To this day, those stories and those experiences are what keep us going and keep my family strong.
- AJ (transcribed from video)