How To Help Your Transracially Adopted Child Be Proud Of Their Heritage

All children should grow up being proud of who they are and where they come from,

Maya Brown-Zimmerman September 30, 2017

All children should grow up being proud of who they are and where they come from, but this is particularly important for children who are transracially adopted. They’re growing up with family members who don’t look like them and are from a different culture. This can be very “othering.” At the same time, it’s important that adoptive parents don’t tokenize their child’s heritage, or inadvertently reinforce racist stereotypes. For example, if you adopt a child from China, skip the panda and bamboo nursery decor, and if you adopt a child from Africa, steer clear of stocking their room with jungle-themed stuffed animals.

Take the time to learn about their culture yourself.
1. Take the time to learn about their culture yourself.

Seek out adults from your child’s ethnic group. Read books. Access the news. You need to understand and appreciate the culture to help your child to.

Look for racial mirrors for your child, both kids and adults.
2. Look for racial mirrors for your child, both kids and adults.

These are people who can help your child connect to their heritage in a way that you can’t. This is going to require you to seek out real friends from this group, not just token friends. It may require traveling farther to join sports teams so your child has teammates who look like them. It may mean moving.

Seek out cultural events.
3. Seek out cultural events.

These might be festivals, art shows, or concerts. They’re a great way to celebrate, as well as learn about history.

Bring your child’s heritage into your home.
4. Bring your child’s heritage into your home.

Listen to music from their culture of origin. Find books with characters of your child’s ethnicity (and make sure to get some that aren’t necessarily tied to history. For example, if your child is African-American, don’t only get books about slavery and the civil rights movement). Hang up art that celebrates their culture. Bonus points if the artwork is by people from that cultural community.

Learn about important people who share your child’s ethnicity.
5. Learn about important people who share your child’s ethnicity.

Find out about the inventors, the trail blazers, and the stars. We can’t dream about what we don’t see, so help your child see and celebrate the success of those who look like them.

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Maya Brown-Zimmerman

Maya Brown-Zimmerman is a mother of three, both biologically and through adoption. She has been blogging since before it was cool, and is passionate about everything from open and ethical adoption to special needs advocacy and patient-physician communication. In her spare time (ha!) she's on the board of directors for a medical nonprofit and enjoys medical and crime dramas. You can read more from her on her blog, Musings of a Marfan Mom.


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