Transracial adoption is when an adoptive family adopts a child who is of another race or ethnic background. This type of adoption is more commonplace than it’s been in decades’ past. Helping a child adjust to life in an entirely new country takes time and work. But just as important as it is to make them feel welcome, it is equally as important to help them learn about where they came from.
Adoptive families should make a strong effort to educate themselves on their child’s heritage. There is so much they can learn – traditions, holidays, customs, language. When they share this knowledge with their child, they help him or her create a strong sense of self. Here are some ways to help your child foster a love for their heritage:
- Read books about their heritage – fiction, non-fiction, kids’ books. There are many sweet storybooks that tell stories about fun customs from other countries.
- Help them connect with other kids of the same ethnicity or race – go to social activities that allow them to spend time with other kids. If a family used an adoption agency, they may be able to connect the family with others in the area who have a child from the same country. Kids need to see other families that look like theirs, to know they aren’t that different.
- Make it habitual – don’t reserve celebrating a child’s heritage for holidays or special events only. Try to incorporate some aspects into daily life. Once a week, prepare a food connected to their home country. Take your child’s interests (music, reading, fashion, art) and connect it to their heritage.
- Make it a family thing – adoptive children often go through a phase where they don’t want to acknowledge they are “different” than other kids or families. They can feel singled out if they are the only one in the family attending cultural activities or classes. Participate with them, but also let them try some things on their own.
- Find a balance – make sure your child also participates in activities that make them feel like other kids their age. Celebrate customs from your own heritage, too. Teach your child how to celebrate diversity, and to respect and value other cultures in the world. Make your home one of inclusion, and set the tone that cultural biases are not allowed.