The prominence of transracial adoption has grown exponentially in the last 10-15 years. There are many opinions on this subject, as you can well imagine. But the issue of color in adoption conversations is one that needs careful consideration when it comes to talking to an expectant mom about idea of a couple of another culture or race adopting her child. This is not just about finding a home for a baby. This is about choosing a family and a lifestyle for the child and anticipating how the differences will blend over time. Expectant moms of color who are considering adoption have many concerns and even fears about their child being adopted by a couple of another race or culture. The issue of color in adoption conversations is well overdue for an overhaul.
When you think about a family of one color or culture adopting a child from another color or culture, what comes to mind for you? What do you envision is happening when you look at a family like this?
Adoption Conversations Need Less Idealism With Color
There is a lot you can make up in your own mind about why a mother would need to place her child for adoption. The typical stereotypes lend the imagination to reason that it is likely that the child needs to be separated from the child and that the family adopting them is the one saving the child from a traumatic life of some kind.
Adoption conversations are not about saving a child from their biological family. It is not about rescuing a child from ruination, and thanking God there is a superhuman family who will more than fit the bill of savior in this child’s life. These idealistic viewpoints are false and damage the perception of women who are considering adoption for their children and how adoptees value themselves and their family origin. Adoption conversations need to be revamped when it comes to expectant moms and their decisions to place their children in the homes of couples who are of another race or culture.
Expectant moms of color who place their children for adoption are usually running counterculture in going through with a placement. Non-caucasian cultures can have a negative viewpoint of adoption, making the decision by a woman of color all the more difficult. Her reasons for placing need to supersede what she hears from her own family about how their culture views adoption. We need to put ourselves in her shoes first before we decide how to interpret the outcome of her decision.
Adoptive Families Need Education When It Comes To Color
What makes for a successful transracial adoption is much more than originally marketed. The narrative for a decade spoke of love overriding the need to address color differences. That love was blind to color and that all that mattered, in the end, was that the child felt loved, no matter what color his or her family was. But the adult adoptees of transracial families are telling us a different story now. The truth of this message has not bared out the way it was intended.
Adoptees who have been adopted by families of other colors or cultures share stories of feeling invisible. Their families’ desire to not address color and cultural differences has caused many adoptees from interracial families to try to deny their own differences to fit into the family and their community. When differences are ignored, it is often translated that they are being ignored because the differences are not good. We need to change adoption conversations about how we see adoptees from interracial families so they feel good about themselves and whole in their families, no matter what the cultural or racial differences are.
There are some simple ways that prospective adoptive families and even current interracial adoptive families can help their adoptee feel good about the skin they are living in:
Get educated: Prospective adoptive families need to start with a good foundation about what makes an interracial adoptive family successful. There are plenty of good resources on how to confront these issues head-on and understand what you need to know before you welcome a child of another race into your home permanently.
Embrace Culture: Part of embracing other cultures is admitting that there are differences. Acknowledging differences is healthy. Seek to understand the differences and embrace the nuances that exist. Start with researching other cultures. Note important figures in other cultures. Attend cultural fairs. Read books about other cultures. Having an education about your current or future adoptee’s cultural background becomes important in helping them feel valued and proud of who they are. Educating your adoptee about their cultural background from the beginning tells them that this is something worthy about them, too.
Racial Mirrors: Do you live in a diverse community? Would you say a person from another culture other than yours would say that if you asked them? Considering transracial adoption means taking a look at what is around you now. If your surroundings are consistently just like your culture, chances are that will bring challenges to an adoptee of another culture as they grow. Making sure your adoptee has people in their community that look like them, that art in their home reflects their own heritage, that culturally significant holidays are celebrated is important in mirroring value back to an adoptee from another race or culture.
If You Are An Expectant Mom Considering Transracial adoption
Expectant moms who are thinking about a prospective adoptive family of another race or culture should consider these points when deciding on a family for their child. Take these points and ask families you are considering about these considerations and see what they have to say. Helping your child have a healthy value of themselves starts with an adoptive family that is willing and ready to help them achieve that.
If you are a family considering adopting a child of another race or culture and would like some coaching and education on transracial adoption, contact us for information on our coaching sessions for prospective adoptive families.
If you are an expectant mom who is considering adoption for your child and would like to talk to someone about your options and/or considerations with transracial adoption, contact us today for a consultation. We are happy to help.