Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoption refers to the adoption of a child that is of a different race than that of the adoptive parents.

While some adoptive families may wish to adopt a child of the same racial background as themselves, others choose to diversify their family makeup by adopting a child of a different race or ethnicity. Throughout America, there are thousands of blended families as more couples choose to open their arms to children of all kinds of backgrounds.

Some adoptive families that are open to adopting transracially wonder if an expectant mother will choose a family of another race to raise her child, or if she will prefer a family that is of the same racial background as her child. While it is ultimately up to the expectant mother to choose a family for her child, we work with hundreds of expectant mothers each year who choose to place their babies with waiting families that are of a different race. Typically, those families that demonstrate their openness to adopt a child of a different race in their Adoptive Family Profile, or who highlight their love of different cultures, are often chosen by expectant mothers of a different race.

African-American/Biracial Adoption

There is a strong need for families to adopt African-American children, or biracial children that are part African-American. Because of this, more families are choosing to adopt African-American children and it is becoming more common to see Caucasian, Hispanic and other families expanding their family through the adoption of an African-American or biracial child.

If you are considering adopting a black or biracial child, you may wish to study African-American culture to share this with your child. There are many children's books available that are African-American themed as well as dolls and other toys that will allow your child to embrace their ethnic background. Popular toy manufacturers, including Barbie and American Girl, offer African-American dolls, as well as various other Internet resources, such as You also may wish to join playgroups or other organizations that will allow your child to interact with other African-American children. Playgroups are easily found through church or other religious organizations throughout a community or you can organize your own with friends, neighbors and other associates with children close to the age of your child!

Considering adopting an African-American or biracial child?

Across the nation, there is a vast shortage of families seeking to adopt children of an African-American descent. Due to this shortage, American Adoptions created our Agency-Assisted Program to bring light to this need and to aid families seeking to adopt African-American children. This program provides for the adoption of African-American or biracial children that are part African-American. As part of the Agency-Assisted Program, American Adoptions subsidizes $5,500 of the adoption cost to make the adoption process more affordable for families. In addition, American Adoptions allows each family in the Agency-Assisted Program the option of specifying what gender they prefer to adopt. This option is not available in our other adoption programs. Families may join both the Agency-Assisted and the traditional programs if they desire. Another benefit to the Agency-Assisted Program is the lower wait time experienced by families in this program. Because fewer families are open to adopting a child with an African-American heritage, families in the Agency-Assisted Program receive a higher exposure to expectant mothers. For more information on the Agency-Assisted Program, visit Our Programs.

Suggested Reading:
Different and Wonderful: Raising Black Children in a Race-Conscious Society, by Dr. Darlene Powell Hopson and Dr. Derek S. Hopson.
Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Inside Transracial Adoption, by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall
Loving Across the Color Line: A White Adoptive Mother Learns About Race, by Sharon E. Rush

Hispanic Adoption

More families also are choosing to adopt a child with a Hispanic background. Throughout America, the Hispanic community continues to grow and today is one of the largest, most influential communities in the nation. Couples choosing to adopt a Hispanic child may wish to learn more about Hispanic traditions, including traditional food, stories and celebrations. Families adopting a Hispanic child may wish to learn to speak Spanish and raise their child in a bilingual home. Families also may join playgroups or other organizations that will allow the child to interact with other Hispanic children or families. These playgroups may be found at church or other religious organizations, or organize your own! If you know of any other Hispanic families in your community with children similar in age to your child, simply plan times for your children to play together, or ask them if they know of any other Hispanic families looking to form a playgroup.

Suggested Reading:
Raising Nuestros Niños Bringing up Latino Children in a Bicultural World, by Gloria G. Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Cross-Cultural Adoption: How to Answer Questions from Family, Friends and Community, by Amy Coughlin and Caryn Abramowitz

Asian Adoption

With the rise of international adoptions, it is also becoming more common for families to adopt Asian children. However, you don't have to adopt overseas to adopt a child with an Asian background, as there are many Asian children available for adoption in the U.S.

Families wishing to adopt an Asian child are encouraged to learn more about Asian culture, including traditions, holidays and stories. There also are many children's books available that focus on traditional Asian themes and stories that will allow your child to identify with their culture at a young age.

Suggested Reading:
Dim Sum, Bagels and Grits: A Sourcebook for Multicultural Families, by Myra Alperson

Indian/Native American Adoption

Many families are also choosing to adopt a Native-American child. While there are many Native-American children available for adoption, there are also special laws governing the adoption of Native American children.

To protect the interest of Native American children and tribes, the U.S. government enacted the Indian/Native American Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Couples wishing to adopt a Native American child must ensure that all mandates of ICWA are satisfied in order to adopt the child. American Adoptions is fully experienced with the ICWA mandates and has handled hundreds of adoptions involving Native-American children. If ICWA applies to your adoption, this service is included in our legal services, which we provide to all of our waiting families.

Families adopting a Native-American child are encouraged to research the child's tribe of origin in order to share with the child the traditions, celebrations, dress and other tribe customs. Families may also wish to seek out other Native-American families in their community to allow their child to interact with other Native-American children and families.

For more information on ICWA or adopting a Native-American child, please contact American Adoptions.

Adopting Transracially - Tips for Families

However, families considering transracial adoption should also note that adopting a child of a different race also comes with its own set of unique considerations. Families adopting a child of a different race should be prepared to teach their adopted child about their ethnicity and should foster a home environment that is open and loving of all races and cultures. As the child grows, adoptive parents should be prepared to answer questions their child may have about their own ethnic and cultural identity.

Experts also suggest adoptive parents of transracially adopted children:

  • Allow the child to interact with other people and children of the child's race or ethnicity
  • Read books about transracial adoption or the child's culture
  • Take a foreign language class to learn the child's native language
  • Consider living in a multicultural neighborhood
  • Find same-race mentors and role models for the child
  • Confront racism openly
  • Cook ethnic dishes from the child's culture
  • Celebrate all cultures, including the child's
  • Take part in homeland tours and culture camps to expose the child to the traditions, customs and stories of their race or culture


American Adoptions supports transracial adoption and works with waiting families, children and expectant mothers of all races and ethnic backgrounds. For more information on our adoption services, contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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