The term “transracial adoption” refers to a family adopting a child of a different race. Despite transracial adoption becoming increasingly accepted/popular, people often struggle with how to navigate it well.
Index: Considering transracial adoption? Wondering how to best care for your child of a different race? Here are three really important things to remember and practical ways you can help make the transition smooth!
Look to God first
Remember it is a big deal for your child to feel represented
Don’t minimize your differences
Defining Transracial Adoption:
The social definition of adoption is “the act of voluntarily taking a child of other parents as one’s own child.” The term transracial adoption refers to a family adopting a child of a different race. This is becoming increasingly accepted/popular in America. While it is a wonderful thing that our society’s diversity and inclusion is growing, it can still be difficult to address and navigate transracial adoption well
The Bible is Our First Example:
There are many examples of adoption in scripture. First and foremost the bible refers to Christians as adopted sons and daughters. This shows us that God cares for each of us so deeply despite our origins and history. The second most obvious example is that Jesus himself was raised by Joseph. Joseph did not share DNA with Jesus, but he loved him as his own precious child. Another wonderful example, and perhaps the most prevalent example for transracial adoption is the story of Moses. Moses, an Israelite, was found in the river by Pharaoh’s daughter. She adopted him into her Egyptian family and cared for him as her own. Because of this life and opportunity that adoption provided, Moses went on to be a man of God, strong leader and wise teacher leading God’s people to the promised land.
It Is A Big Deal For Your Child To Feel Represented:
Have you ever felt like no one understands? Like everyone around you is on the same page, yet somehow you are very deeply different? Have you ever stayed at a friend’s house and felt awkward and uncomfortable being in someone else’s space? Being the odd one out? Imagine that feeling multiplied infinitely. No matter how much the child is affirmed that they are loved and they belong, they will always be different. Have you ever met a coworker that loves the same restaurant as you or a friend that grew up in a neighboring small town? Do you love it when you connect with someone who really gets you, understands or relates? Now imagine that person was with you in those awkward moments mentioned above… you wouldn’t feel so isolated would you? Helping your child feel represented can make a huge difference in their life. Seek to better understand, affirm and honor your child’s racial identity. Try taking these small steps!
- Read books with transracial characters
- Try to go to church in a transracial community
- Choose a diverse neighborhood, church, sports team, tutors, babysitters, doctors, and more.
“(Good transracial adoptive parents) proactively and age-appropriately prepares, educates, and protects their child from racial inequality racial discrimmination, and all other forms of racism. Additionally, these parents must not only work through the challenge of raising a child in society where racism exists - they also have the privilege and responsibility of learning, promoting, and participating in the child's racial heritage and grafting that heritage into the family.” -Adoption Advocate, A Call to Adoptive Parents
- Create dialogue with your child using open-ended questions like:
- What did you think about that TV character, did she seem realistic to you?
- How do you feel when you meet someone who looks like you?
- Find role models and mentors for your child who share their culture and race. They will be able to relate and answer questions in a way you cannot.
“Give your child a safe platform on which to express and wrestle with what it is like being different and having a different story” -Adoption Advocate, A Call to Adoptive Parents
Don’t minimize your differences:
“Adoptive parents must both protect their children from racism whenever possible while simultaneously preparing them for the racism they will inevitably experience.” -Adoption Advocate, A Call to Adoptive Parents
Racism: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Racial prejudice or discrimination.
Talk about transracial adoption often and be supportive! Ask your child what it’s like to be black, white, latino, etc. Engage them in what it’s like to have parents of a different race. Allow them the space to feel uncomfortable and voice that to you. Do everything you can to find answers to their questions. Seek out friendships with people of your child’s race and when there is a question you simply cannot answer yourself, ask these friends to come alongside you in talking with your child. Open adoption also provides beautiful avenues for question asking and interracial bonding. Open adoption allows adoptive children to foster relationships with their biological family and learn about their roots. This is an extremely special and irreplaceable gift. It provides opportunities for your child to ask questions and feel known in a way that is very unique and impactful.
No matter a child’s race, every little life deserves to be loved and nurtured. You are able to help them grow in their confidence more than anyone else. As an adoptive parent, remember to cherish the conversations you get to have with your child as they grow up. Those conversations have the opportunity to shape their life in ways beyond measure! Heritage is a special and beautiful gift and celebrating it together can form bonds that will last a lifetime.