Fran and Sylvia eat dinner with Noah and Sorijah at their home in State College, Pa. on March. 13, 2017. Fran McDermid, 45, and Sylvia Feldman, 54, had finally completed the adoption process after waiting three long years. On August 27, 2011 the couple unexpectedly received a phone call. The birth mother of their soon to be twin children was going into labor, five weeks early, over 2,400 miles away in Reno, Nevada. Due to hurricane Irene and many booked flights, making their way to Nevada was difficult. Finally, they found a flight in Cleveland. Weary from their travels and the feelings of waiting a lifetime, Sylvia and Fran held their newborn twins Noah and Sorijah, for the first time.
Sorijah watches as her mother Sylvia plays a game of pinball at Northland Bowl and Sports Center in State College, Pa. on March 13, 2017. Born and raised in State College, Pennsylvania, Sylvia remembers two black families growing up, and noticed very little racial diversity.
“I didn’t really think about race growing up. I wouldn’t say I’m aware of bias but I probably have one internalized.” – Feldman
Fran holds a rope ladder down as Noah and Sorijah’s friend, Zazu climbs up a tree at their home in State College, Pa. on April 17, 2017.
Growing up in a predominantly white upper class area of Connecticut Fran said, “I’d be naive to say I didn’t have racial biases” Her perception of race was based on what she had been taught and what she had seen. “I’ve come to learn that everybody has [racial biases] and growth comes from admitting you have them”- McDermid
Noah, Sorijah, and their best friend Zazu climb a tree in the back yard near their home in State College, Pa. on April 17, 2017. During their first 5 years as parents, Fran and Sylvia have felt an overwhelming amount of acceptance as two mothers with biracial twins in the State College area. They aim to surround themselves and their children with encouraging people and groups.
Sorijah smiles after eating lunch with her brother, Noah and their best friend, Zazu at their home in State College, Pa. on April 17, 2017. At a young age Sorijah used to say how much she hated her brown skin. Sorijah assumed that as she grew older her skin color would change. Fran and Sylvia had to explain to Sorijah what it meant to have colored skin and just how beautiful and lucky she was to have it.
Sorijah jumps on a trampoline before bed time at her home in State College, Pa. on April 3, 2017. Sorijah has very curly hair that takes extra work to untangle. At a young age she talked about cutting it off because she would rather have straight hair like her moms.
"It concerned me, it really concerned me and then I relaxed a little bit and realized of course thats what she thinks. Thats what she sees. That is everything around her." - Feldman
Fran reads a book with Noah and Sorijah as Sylvia watches before the twins go to bed at their home in State College, Pa. on March. 13, 2017. Fran and Sylvia bought books that include black characters and same sex partners.
Fran and Sylvia met with the twin’s teachers throughout the year, but initially were surprised to see a lack of racially diverse learning material in the school. The kind of learning material that represents different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and introduces students to the diverse world they live in today. Due to Fran and Sylvia’s meetings, the schools now provide various books representing culturally diverse backgrounds. As Noah and Sorijah move onto kindergarten next year, their teachers predict they won’t be the only biracial children in attendance.
Sorijah, Noah and their best friend Zazu watch the "What Does the Fox Say" youtube video on an iPhone at their home in State College, Pa. on April 17, 2017. Zazu, who has been a long time friend of Noah and Sorijah is one of their only biracial friends.
“There’s two sides to parenting. It creates this ultimate love that I never knew existed. Its love that comes not just from this swelling of your heart and also the crushing of your heart and the pit in your stomach and the emotional reaction your body has to things. I’d do it 100 times over again”- McDermid
Sorijah walks hand in hand with fellow "Puddle Jumper" Ryan Palacios at the Milbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College, Pa. on April 26, 2017. In addition to the Nature Center Noah and Sorijah also attend the State College Friends Pre-School, where they are currently the only biracial children in their class.
Noah and Sorijah eat lunch with classmates nicknamed "The Puddle Jumpers" at the Milbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College, Pa. on April. 26, 2017. The twins attend the outdoor school twice a week where they develop a foundation of learning through encounters in the natural world, imaginative exploration, and nature based learning.