Adoption is something that more and more people have a connection to. Many families, in one way or another, have become familiar with the process of adoption, either within their own family or through a family friend, schoolmate, workmate, or acquaintance. We all know someone who has been affected by adoption. Transracial adoption is when a family adopts a child who is from a different racial background. Transracial adoption seemed to be rarer in the past, yet now it has been growing in frequency worldwide. More than 84 percent of international adoptions are transracial, 73 percent of children non-caucasian are adopted into a caucasian home. The media has showcased many caucasian adoptive parents embracing their non-caucasian children into their homes. We have seen many public figures come forward sharing their stories of transracial adoption. It was once thought of as a fad, but in truth, and amongst the adoption community, many understand the importance of adoption in any form. Children of any age, background, and race deserve the equal opportunity to be loved, cared for, and welcomed into a safe home— even if their adoptive families look a little bit different than them.
There is so much beauty in our racial differences. Having a blended family that consists of transracial adoption can bring so much joy, educational opportunity, and love into your home. There are many things that need to be considered as well, before leaping into any adoption, but more importantly, adopting a child outside of your own race. Some have been known to advocate for a mindset centered on being “color-blind,” claiming, “I see no color,” and saying, “love is just love.” Though those sentiments stem from what is thought to be a wholesome and pure place, the fact is that your child may experience many things outside of your own ethnic understanding. Preparing for these difficult moments and emotional struggles your child may experience should be at the top of your to-do list.
Befriend other transracial families
Building a community with people who share the same experiences as you can be so beneficial. It’s helpful to have a similar village and support system. Using the experiences of others can help you prepare for what may come your way. Learning from others who have walked the same path can make help your adoptee and the rest of your family feel less alone.
Educate yourself on cultural customs and traditions
Cultural identity is something real and important to your child. It is never too late to learn and dive deep into embracing what is important in other cultures. Familiarizing yourself with this prior to the adoption would be most beneficial.
Make it a topic of discussion in your home
Let your child decide how important connecting to their birth heritage and culture is. Keep the discussion open and let them know that they are the ones able to set their own boundaries regarding this topic. Let them guide you when appropriate. Make sure to keep your own personal feelings and wants about it at bay and let them set the pace.
Incorporate proper representation in the home
It is important for children to see others like themselves represented in their entertainment. Finding books, movies, television shows, music, toys, and other sources that showcase individuals who look like they do, can be great for their self-esteem and discovering their own unique identity..
Find role models of the same race
Finding strong, kind, caring individuals that share your child’s race can be a wonderful help for them. This person can be a role model and assist in helping your child learn more about his or her birth heritage. This is especially useful for single parents who are raising a child of a different race. Providing a child with a role model that shares the same race as them can help in their growth and development when they transition from child to adult.
Learn about prejudice and prepare for unsolicited negativity
Even in the midst of 2022 when people are advocating for acceptance left and right, be prepared for some to disappoint you. Not everyone is going to be on board with your interracial household. Some people who you would never have imagined asking for advice from may offer opinions that don’t exactly favor your choice of family. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for some of the comments, looks, and disbelieving remarks that may be cast in your family’s direction. Sometimes we are ignorant of the things happening to others. When you bring together children of different races into your home, your eyes may be opened to the struggles that many outside of your race tend to face. Be ready to prepare your child as well for those that may not be accepting. Teach them about ignorance and give them the tools to push through any negative comments cast their way.
When writing this article, I approached a few adult adoptees who were adopted into interracial homes. I can’t speak for them personally, but what I gathered from each interview was that, for them, being loved, accepted, and cared for, was their number one priority. They also agreed that their adoptive parents choosing to find a way for them to connect with their background was also of importance. One woman said to me,
“Being a black little girl brought up in an all-white home never crossed my mind much. My mom spent a great deal of time educating herself on how to take care of my hair, skin, and other basic needs. I never had to worry about trying to be white or trying to fit in an all-white home. I was black and I was raised to be black by a white mother and white father.”
Another young woman spoke about her transracial family as such:
“Of course, our family wasn’t perfect, no family is. Of course, I struggled in my teen years, but what teen girl doesn’t struggle? My parents always encouraged me to be myself, not only did they help me to learn about my birth heritage, but they too were just as excited to embrace some of the traditions themselves. I never felt guilty for just being me.”
I conversed with a gentleman who was adopted and raised in a single-parent home. Though his experience wasn’t always so easy, he spoke about being adopted this way:
“I don’t blame my adoption on my struggles. My mother tried her best to give me everything she could. She taught me what she believed. I grew up without a father figure in my home, but my mom was sure to introduce me to families that had strong male figures and I learned what it was like to have a father-son bond. Did I sometimes have internal struggles? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It’s not always easy being in a home and community with people who look different than you. I was thankful for the families who shared my race and being able to connect with them was helpful over the years. I am still grateful for my Mother. Despite not always understanding me, she made sure to give me resources to connect with people that could.”
There are many families who adopt outside of their own race. They carry on like any other family. These families embrace all that their children bring to their homes. Learning and growing together in unison is part of the adoption process. Adopting any child into your home comes with challenges. Not everything goes as smoothly as one would hope. There are plenty of resources out there to help guide you and your family along this journey.
Nearly 84 percent of international adoptions are transracial adoptions. Adoption.com, Adopting.org, Adoption.org, and Internationaladoption.org are amazing resources. They can direct you to information as well as other articles like this to help assist you and your family.
Transracial adoptive families are simply that: they are families. There might be a bit more work in store for a family of different backgrounds, but there is just as much love to share. We have all learned in the adoption community, a child doesn’t have to resemble you in order to find a way into your heart or arms.