Looking Inside Transracial Adoptions

Adopted Children With Ethnic Backgrounds


Britannica Parents

Adoptive parents embracing their children’s cultural identities

Over the years, transracial adoption has become more common and accepted in today’s society. Transracial or transcultural adoption means placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group. Other than providing a loving and caring home for your newly adopted child, in a bi-racial family, it is important for adoptive parents to respect their child’s culture and continue to teach them to love their backgrounds as they grow up. Adoption professionals stress how important it is for parents to teach their adopted children about their racial identities and ethnic backgrounds. Racial identity can be hard to teach coming from a parent of a different race, but I believe that it can happen with the proper research and care. Parents who are looking into transracial adoption cannot ignore the idea of race or the importance of exploring their children’s backgrounds. There are multiple resources for parents to go to when in need of guidance towards the transracial adoption process.

Every family’s adoption process will go differently, but adoptive professionals have recommended having a well thought out conversation with your family about what transracial adoption means for them. Parents should be sure that their family is ready to commit to their newly adopted child. Families also need to understand the importance of educating their child and the responsibility that having a transracial sorted child carries. There are so many important factors that parents need to think about like, understanding that transracial adoptees’ lives are impacted by their race and their adoption and that they are experiencing layers of loss, understanding the history of race, power, privilege, and oppression in this country, and acknowledging that adoptees are the experts of their own lives.

Numerous individuals have opinions that vary between transracial adoption being a new blessing to your family, or transracial adoption being a difficult decision due to all the responsibilities and duties of being an adoptive parent of a child with a different ethnic background. Being a part of a biracial adoptive family can be a culturally rich experience if the family chooses to embrace their diversity and seek out opportunities to expand their cultural horizons. By instilling a racially diverse environment with multiple tools such as books, movies, artwork, and music representing the child’s race, families help create a positive identity for the child and helps develop racial awareness for the whole family itself. While transracial adoption is a positive thing, it also could be very challenging due to people often assuming that the child was adopted internationally and will ask questions in regards to that, stereotypes about your child’s race could be made and taken out of context, and making sure that the adoptee feels comfortable and safe in their home and community. Some parents don’t do their part in communicating with their child. They think that putting off the important talk about being different will be helpful to the child. There are numerous things that parents can do to make their adoptive child’s experience better, one being talking to your child about race, about being different, and self identity is crucial to the success of your child. Talking to them and telling them that they are different, all while still teaching them to love and accept their differences is a conversation that is worth having. Another important thing is reading! Reading on transracial adoption is always a good resource to go to, it can be very educational and eye opening to parents in need of guidance.

NPR’s Code Switch podcast looks at race and identity and how it affects people in America. Children that have been adopted by parents of different races talk about how their adoption formed their racial identity. Kendra Rosati, was adopted by a Caucasian family, “My sisters are blonde and blue-eyed, kind of your all-American classic beauties. And my brother looks like my dad. All of my life, my parents have told me I’m just like my brother and sisters, but I wasn’t and I’m not. I have constantly felt uncomfortable in my own skin. And when I was young, at night, I would pray to God that I would wake up looking just like my sisters. My parents were definitely not ready or equipped to raise a child of color. They didn’t know how to or want to talk about race.”

Adopted kids who are not exposed to their backgrounds and are made naive by their adoptive parents find it more difficult to accept the fact that they are adopted or that they are not the same race as their adoptive families. People everywhere are telling them to be grateful that they have a home and that they should consider themselves lucky, but no one around them like family, friends, or anyone who has an opinion on their adoption thought about how adopted children can struggle with other things, and their own thoughts on adoption.

On the NPR podcast, an unidentified individual said, “I spent the first 12 years of my life thinking that I was a little white girl. And when I found out that I wasn’t, it wasn’t just a revelation, it was an identity crisis.” All adoptees should be educated on their adoption, especially the young ones whose minds are very young and easy to teach. Like this unidentifiable person, many adoptive kids experience the same thing this person is, and it’s best to teach them while they are young, so they can continue to grow up aware and learn to accept and love their backgrounds.

At the end of the day the process of transracial adoption is beautiful and can be such a unique experience, parents looking into this process have to come to terms with the responsibilities and things that need to be done and taught in order to have a successful adoption. The last thing anyone wants to do is ignore their cultural backgrounds.