“The quickest cure for racism would be to have everyone in the country adopt a child of another race. No matter what your beliefs, when you hold a four-day-old infant, love him, and care for him, you don’t see color, you see a little person that is very much in need of your love” –Robert Dale Morrison
There are many issues to be sorted through when thinking about adoption, but when you’re considering adopting a child of a different race, the issues are compounded. Three of these issues were outlined on Livestrong.com in an article written by Sharon Perkins:
One issue she addresses is family acceptance. In most families, grandparents and extended families will love your child unconditionally, no matter the race. However, acceptance might be slower in some families; remember that grandparents grew up in a decade when interracial marriage was not common, and often even interacting with someone of a different race was not accepted.
Another factor is assimilation. Young children do not see a difference in skin color. They will play with a child of a different race without noticing. They will probably not be aware that mom and dad look “different.” But as they get older, they will have more questions and issues that you will need to be prepared to help them resolve. Questions will come when they are asked to do a family tree at school or when another student asks them why they look different than their parents. These questions may also come from strangers when you are out in your community.
This leads to the next area of consideration: standing out. Yes, your family will stand out more in the community because of your transracial parenting. As Perkins says, “The United States is not a color-blind environment.” Some people will make rude comments or ask rude questions out of ignorance.
It will be your job to ensure your child has a strong understanding of his/her racial background and knows who he/she is to combat these concerns.
If you have an open adoption, your child may have the opportunity to learn firsthand about her culture and heritage from birth parents. But if not, there are many things you can do. Making friends with people from the same ethnic background as your child; get together with other transracial families. Take them to restaurants where they are in the majority and you are the minority. Look for churches or play groups that have children of the same race/ethnicity as your child’s race/ethnicity.
According to Angela Krueger, “Considering what life as a multicultural adoptive family might be like before choosing to adopt a child of a different race is a good exercise for prospective adoptive parents. In addition to reading books and articles on transracial adoption, it may be helpful to do a course such as one offered by Adoption Learning Partners and to listen to interviews by adoption experts.” She continues, “It is important that prospective adoptive parents understand that lacking prejudice is not enough when it comes to adopting a child of a different race. Transracial adoption is unique and by embracing racial diversity and preparing for possible issues, adoptive families can ensure their child has positive racial identity and strong self-esteem.”
In sum, transracial adoption can create beautiful families in which children grow and thrive and develop a healthy sense of identity. But it will require a little more effort on your part.
If you’re wondering if transracial adoption is for you, know that it really comes down to education, followed by some serious soul-searching. Look at the realities of transracial adoption and seriously consider your ability and willingness to help your child connect with his birth culture and to spend time with people from his own race. If you are open to making that extra effort, I fully recommend that you do.