Over the years, transracial adoption has become increasingly common, largely because people are much more open about their adoption stories today. Still, transracial adoption has its own unique challenges – but so does every type of family. The key is understanding, preparing for, and talking about those challenges.
If you are thinking about transracial adoption, here are some subjects you will need to think about as your child grows.
Race and Identity
Your child’s race is a part of who he or she is, and it is important to feel comfortable talking about it from an early age. Race and adoption will both play a part in how your child grows up, and it is your job to dispel the common stereotypes surrounding them.
Lay the foundation for open conversation from the very beginning. Start a dialog with your child and keep the lines of communication open as he or she grows and asks questions. At the same time, do not force conversations about race – let your child come to you.
Culture and Community
As a transracial adoptive family, your child’s culture will play a role in your own lives. Whether it’s through specific holidays, other traditions, or simply educating your child, you will have many opportunities to talk about and embrace your child’s culture at home.
You can also benefit greatly from finding other transracial parents. Not only will they understand some of the same challenges you face, but they will offer your child a diverse community in which to grow. Consider looking for support groups where you can connect with other adoptive parents.
You can also bring diversity in your child’s life through the books, movies, and other forms of media you choose. For example, this list of multiracial diversity books features stories for young children about families of all kinds. It can take a little digging to find material that authentically captures diversity, but you have many resources available to you.
Handling Insensitive Comments
Transracial families may encounter inappropriate comments related to adoption, particularly because their adoption is more visible. Often, the people who make these remarks mean well but do not understand what is acceptable to ask or say to adoptive parents.
All families deal with these kinds of comments in their own way – some might lighten the tone with a flippant response, others might take the opportunity to educate the person, and others still might choose not to answer an inappropriate question. However you handle insensitive comments will have an impact on your child, so it’s important to be honest, empathetic, and proud of your adoption story.
By tackling these four topics, you will be well on your way to understanding the complexities of transracial adoption. As the number of transracial adoptions continues to grow, take some time to consider if this route might be the right fit for your family, as well.