5 of the Best Tips for a Successful Transracial Adoption
Parents who adopt a child of a race that differs from their own face unique challenges. These adoptive parents have an extra responsibility of helping their child form a positive self-image as a member of their birth heritage, as well as a healthy racial identity. In order for your child to thrive, it’s critical to learn and respect your child’s birth culture.
Transracial adoption can be a beautiful and enriching experience for both the adoptive parents and the child. It’s a healthy picture of diversity, inclusion and unconditional love. It’s important to be as prepared as possible for the arrival of the child. Adoption Choices of Arizona is here to provide our five best tips for a successful transracial adoption.
1) Embrace the Differences
Your child looks different than you — and that’s a good thing! Many adoptive parents might automatically look for commonalities rather than differences, but this shouldn’t be the case. Parents say, “Why do I want to remind my son that he looks different from me?” or “What does it matter if we have different skin tones?” It does matter. If you ignore the differences between you and your child, others will point them out and it’s not always in a loving way.
Your child has different facial features, hair texture, skin color, and these should never be ignored. Celebrate those differences! Tell her that her black curly hair is beautiful. Let him know that you love his almond shaped eyes. Ignoring the differences between you and your child unintentionally sends the message that being different is bad. Create open communication around it. This will let your child explore and love their individuality. Communication is incredibly important as it gives you the chance to help your child be as comfortable as possible in their own skin. Embrace the difference and let them know you love them for exactly the way they are.
2) Find Role Models for Your Child
As their parent, your child will turn to you for guidance in many different areas. Unfortunately, your child will have questions related to their race and culture that you don’t know and can’t understand. Involving adults of the same race or ethnic group as your child will give them valuable role models and allies. Find people who will invest in your child and help you in building your child’s racial identity. Be intentional about this. Establish leadership roles. These are people your child can admire and aspire to be one day.
3) Pay Attention to Representation
Be deliberate about the images that surround your child. It’s important to be conscious about little things that have a big impact. Books, TV shows, stores, playgrounds, restaurants, schools. Invest in books that were written by someone of the same race as your child, or that show a story of someone who is the same race. It’s also important for your child to see someone of their race in their day-to-day lives. Do you live in a diverse neighborhood? Are people who aren’t your race part of your life? Be active in making your home a bicultural one. Frame art from your child’s birth culture. Make crafts. Display maps or flags. Play games, listen to music and make food from your child’s culture.
4) Educate Yourself
It’s important to be culturally aware and prepared for all realities of a transracial adoption. Although it’s vital to educate yourself before you adopt a child of a different race, it’s just as important to keep educating yourself after the adoption is finalized and you are raising your child. There are countless resources available to help prospective and current adoptive parents to have a successful transracial adoption.
Educating yourself on your transracial adoption doesn’t only mean reading articles and studies on adoption, but reading first-person accounts from others. Study the facts and history of your child’s race and culture. Implement them into your daily life. You’ll find inspiration and guidance from other transracial adoptive parents, which is just as valuable as learning the history of your child’s race.
5) Ask for Help
Have you ever tried to drive to a destination you’ve never been to before and you have no help to get there? No map, no directions, no co-pilot? In order to get to that destination, you’d have to contact someone who knows how to get there, someone who’s been there before. Transracial adoption is similar in that there are numerous twists and turns and you need someone to help guide you.
Many transracial families document their adoption journey through personal blogs and websites. They offer honest and detailed first-person accounts of transracial adoption. Reviewing these blogs can be greatly beneficial to your own transracial adoption journey. A few are listed below:
There are also many online groups for families of transracial adoption. These forums and support groups can help you connect with other transracial adoptive families and share stories. Here are a couple of Facebook groups to get you started:
Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow adoptive parents, your own friends and family, your community and Adoption Choices of Arizona. Adoptive parents in transracial adoptions must learn to be advocates for their children in all settings.
Whether you are considering adoption, have already adopted a child, or have just started the process, there is a lot to consider when it comes to transracial adoption. Follow these five tips no matter where you are in the adoption process. The key to a successful transracial adoption is to be flexible, teachable, and humble.
For adoption resources or to begin your adoption journey, birth parents can visit us at Adoption Choices of Arizona or call or text us at 1-480-900-5520. If you are an prospective adoptive family hoping to adopt a baby, please instead, visit us here!
Meet the author: Sarah Aguilera, a Northern Arizona University linguistics and creative writing graduate, is an aspiring author with a passion for influencing others through written words. She has a healthy ardor for all things literature and is often found with a book in her hands.
When she’s not working, Sarah likes to spend her free time swimming, playing with her dog, going to concerts with friends and having crazy adventures with her family. Her love for her own family is what pushed her to join our writing team. She looks forward to educating those hoping to grow their family through adoption.