In 2002, I began to chronicle my adoption journey and created Forever Parents, a supportive online community for adoptive and waiting parents. Over the next year, we grew our support forums to include an adoption shop and a blog. Forever Parents stayed active, helping thousands of people for over ten years. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog, in the Forever Parents section. This post was originally published on May 17, 2007.
Adopting a child of a race different than your own is not something everybody is comfortable doing. Two of my three children are biracial (black/white) and my husband and I are white. My third child is white, although she is biologically related to her siblings.
Things to know about transracial adoption
1. Your family dynamics will forever change and you will now be a racially mixed family, not a “white family with an Asian child” or a “Hispanic family with a black child”.
2. If there is anyone in your family who may have an issue with your decision, now would be a good time to have a talk with them. In the end, you may have to break ties but first, have a heart to heart talk with them.
3. What do you know about their biological culture? Is it enough to answer questions they may have?
4. As they get older, can you discuss racism with them and hear what they have to say?
5. In your heart, are you comfortable doing this? Because if there is a chance you going to regret it, don’t do it. Spend time examining your own beliefs about race and ethnicity.
6. Are you prepared to be asked intrusive questions about your adoption? People can be rude at times while others don’t always use the right words when discussing adoption.
7. Remember, your child is not the only one who is different within your family. Now you are also. I always tell my younger daughter, who wants to be like me, that she’s not only different from me, I’m different from her too.
8. Do you know that there are organizations that are against transracial adoptions? Be prepared that there are close-minded people who will be vocal about your decision. People that would rather see a child languish in foster care than be part of a family that is a different race. Their opinion doesn’t matter but be warned that you will come up against opposition.
9. Do you already have other children? If they are the same race as you, how will they feel about being part of a racially mixed family?
10. Are you prepared to discuss and dispel racial stereotypes with your child, your family, and your community?
Favorite declaration: “9. Remember, your child is not the only one who is different within your family….so are you.” Something we need to think about in life in general. Everyone is different and before we criticize, belittle, or confirm our skewed perceptions, we need to look in that mirror. Our family and extended family were a transracial family long before our daughter came to us. I live in a diverse area and grew up submerged in variety :).
After saying this, I say that many of these considerations took on a new meaning when we brought home our daughter. I live the mantra of advocating for my children everyday. Everything I viewed as a child being a caucasian minority (in my neighborhood) has played a crucial role in my parenting beyond what I ever imagined. My daughter pauses at stores when she sees a person who resembles her and when she does, I ask her what she sees. I want her to always feel that she can share her feelings. My four children often point out others who resemble them and want to share a conversation. My “genetically similar” children do not resemble me much so we have had many talks about DNA & traits. I celebrate our diversity within ourselves as well as our physical gifts. I am so thankful for my family and thankful you have addressed some very important issues. Keep that line of communication WIDE open. Thank you.
Awesome. Sharing this on my blog.
My husband and I (both caucasion) adopted our daughter (AA/C) as a toddler. Living in a diverse community, there didn’t seem to be big challenges. However, now she is in her early teens. She is really struggling with her identity. I’ve heard her and friends saying things like “He’s trying to act black.” or “Why is she acting so white?” I’m really struggling with this because I have never defined people by their outward appearances. Any sugggestions or words of wisdom?
As an adult transracial adoptee, thank you for your voice of reason and reflection! Since returning from my long stay in Japan, I am dedicated to sharing my story with others so they will consider carefully the implications of adopting transracially. I love my family and am very blessed with the life I live…but i had my struggles, too. I would hate for anyone to adopt without considering ALL aspects first:-)
We adopted a former foster daughters baby. We are caucasian, He is both white and African American. His biological Mom is white. We are unsure who the biological father is. I have grown children so this was an adjustment to have an infant back in the house. He’s such a blessing, This time around I appreciate fully what an absolute miracle babies are. It’s like taking an intense human development course in your own home. So much fun and so intense. You will experience curious stares, sometimes dissaproving, mostly kind. These babies help us weed out the predjudice, ignorant and the loving accepting people around us. After a short itme you develope healthy blinders and for the most part cease to notice. He is simply your baby. You couldn’t possibly love him any less than your biological children. And is some ways even more. Because he is truly a miraculous gift and blessing. So entertaining and loving. Your awareness changes forever. you will never be a white family again. You are now a mixed family with the responsibility to this child to provide a healthy supportive environment that with nurture his self esteem, embracing all of his background. He will force you to grow as a human being in ways that are priceless.
Very wise points, I’d say.
Joy T. says
Very informative TT list! All things I’m sure a lot of people miss.
This is really something to think about but I still say bless you for doing it, despite any challenges. Happy TT and thanks for visiting my TT!
Susan Helene Gottfried says
Wow. I know lots of people who’ve adopted kids from other countries whose physical appearance is very different from their parents. It never dawned on me that there would be these ramifications.
Thanks for opening my eyes — and for stopping by West of Mars!
Mama Kelly - 2 Witches Blog says
Important things to consider!! We have 2 children in our extended family who are here thanks to transracial adoption.
This is a very interesting and informative post. You give couples considering adopting transracially some good things to consider. Thanks for coming by my blog and taking the time to comment.
This is definatly something to think about! I don’t think many couples think through the race issue in itself, how that child will be treated amongst extended family. Parents need to be aware of these issues and are they ready to break off from those relatives that cannot accept the child??
This is an option my husband and I are planning on looking into in the next few years and I think it’s great that you posted this “checklist” for all to see! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!