Why Children in Transracial Adoption Need Community “Mirrors”

Transracially adopted children are often the minority in their neighborhoods and their schools. They don’t look like their parents. They might not look like their siblings. They may not have any friends who look like they do. This can be lonely and even confusing. 

This is why community “mirrors”—mentors for your child that are of their race—are so important. They can teach your child about their culture and their native traditions. They can possibly teach them basic words in their native language.

But most importantly, community “mirrors” provides interaction for your child with people who “look like them.”  If you live in a racially diverse neighborhood, that is wonderful; try to connect with your neighbors. If you don’t live in a racially diverse neighborhood, research surrounding areas for applicable activities or events. If possible, attend church services of your child’s race. Find a racially diverse community center. Attend culturally diverse events in your town.

The biggest advice I would share is to make yourself the minority. Experience what it feels like to be a minority, basically how your child feels all of the time. My daughter is two years old and is Asian, while my husband and I are Caucasian. We have an open adoption, so she does have visits with her birth parents, but we have also already started exposing her to the Asian culture. We celebrate the Chinese New Year. We have attended a few Asian events at a local children’s museum and have attended an Asian church. Also, some of the décor in her room reflects her culture.

Most people agree that racism is wrong but, unfortunately, it still exists. Community “mirror” mentors may be better equipped than you to discuss racism with your child and provide answers to questions your child may have. The mentors may provide you with ways to respond to racial comments about your family or your child. People have made comments to me that my daughter will be a good student because she is Asian. Even though it is not meant to be negative, it is a stereotype, one that she’ll need to learn to navigate.

Community “mirrors” can be a valuable asset to your child and also benefit the whole family. What steps have you taken to incorporate the culture of your transracial family?