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Family Diversity: Three Myths about Transracial Adoption

If you are a birth mother considering adoption in Arizona, you may not have thought too much about the specifics of the adoptive parents that you want for your baby. You may imagine them being of a certain religion, having no other kids and having an unlimited supply of mac n’ cheese. However, have you considered their skin color? 

(Crickets) 

Yes, we know that this is a touchy subject, but it poses the question — Would you be comfortable letting your baby grow up in a home with parents of a different race and culture? Before you dig in your heels, Fred Flinstone, take a second to think about WHY you have these reservations. Most of the time, this hesitancy isn’t based on a “racist” mentality, but rather the societal stigma surrounding mixed race families passed down through generations. We have come a long in the last fifty years in putting a stop to racism, but it hasn’t squashed these three myths about transracial adoption. Let’s change that!

1) Always on the Outside…

When you think about your child entering into a home looking totally different from the other members, you probably feel a twinge of anxiety. That’s normal. We all have preconceived notions about what we feel a family “should” look like. We assume that being a part of a family means that everyone looks the same. Fearing the discriminatory looks your baby may receive as he or she grows is a real issue. However, aren’t we all subject to discrimination? Is it better to grow up in the foster care system or to have parents of a different race? In the end, you can see the insignificance of skin color. 

Choosing an adoptive family is the most important part of this process. Making sure that their lifestyle and beliefs align with yours is vital to a successful adoption. To assist in this process, ask them these questions as it pertains to your baby feeling included in the family unit:

  • Will you allow my baby to interact with people of their own race, forming friendships with multiple cultures?
  • Do you live in a diverse neighborhood and school district?
  • Do you see the benefits to a multicultural home?
  • Can you provide my baby with mentorship as he or she grows older from a person of their own race?
  • Are you willing to stand up to people who disagree with your decision to adopt a child of a different race?
  • My child’s hair and skin may need different care than yours. Can you provide that?
  • Will you ensure that you will do your best to make my baby feel included in the extended family as well?

All of these questions should be asked during the interview. Special situations may require more specific questions.

2) Different Colors Equal Less Love

Should the adoptive parents answer the questions above to your liking, you may still wonder if they are capable of loving your baby just as much as they would a baby of their own race. Adoptive parents are adopting because they want a child to love and cherish as their own. Interestingly, over 40% of adoptive parents choose to adopt children of a different ethnicity. If they were not prepared for a child that was different from them, they would not have agreed to meet with you regarding the adoption in the first place, right? 

Be confident that a family is a family. Use your intuition to read the motives of the potential adoptive parents. Do you feel that they will love your baby just the same? Trust your gut! An adoptive parent’s ability to love a child should not be predicted by the color of their skin. In fact, the family also subjects themselves to discrimination by adopting a child different than them (thanks to closeminded individuals). Believe that they are committed to the child if they are willing to face the discrimination themselves. Your baby and the adoptive family will all have to learn to cope with the discomfort; but they will do it together. 

Love may not be the answer to everything, but it certainly is not something that has strict rules or guidelines. Though you cannot read the minds of every potential adoptive parent, trust your instincts if you feel a family of a different race would be the best fit for your baby. 

3) Long-Term Consequences

A common misconception about transracial adoption is that the child will ultimately be damaged in the process. However, the facts say something entirely different. Studies about transracial adoptions have become more prevalent in the past decade thanks to a shift in thinking about the benefits of diversity. Longitudinal studies show that black children adopted into black families are just as happy as those adopted into white families. Their ability to cope with everyday issues and their self-esteem also equals. So where in the world did we get this idea that they would suffer?

We know that you came here for answers about transracial adoption; but today, you’ll get a free Psychology lesson too! Have you ever heard of the concept called, “groupthink”? Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinions of the rest of the pack. Since transracial families still carry a stigma (coming from most of the “group”), you may assume that you are wrong to think that a transracial adoption would be best for your child. Everyone else is saying it, so it must be true, right? This isn’t always so. Instead of focusing on the differences (skin color), remember that adoptive families will often focus more so on the traits they share with you child. This leads to feelings of confidence and inclusion. 

Transracial Adoption can Work

We’ve laid out the three most common myths about transracial adoptions. However, this type of adoption (like any type), isn’t without its problems. Your baby may face discrimination and pain along the way, but don’t we all? Instead of focusing on the negative, think about the unique opportunities your baby will have growing up in a diverse environment. They will grow up with sensitivity to other cultures and learn more about the world than they could from a parent of their own culture. Any adversity they face will only strengthen their resolve to make their own friends feel included as they grow older. 

As a birth mother, you have made a decision to give your child their best chance – and who knows? Maybe that best chance comes in a different shade than you imagined?

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: Megan Nichols is a writer, artist and collector of multiple plants- most of which she has successfully killed. She lives in North Carolina with her goldendoodle, Rosie, and super-hero daughter. Megan is pursuing her MFA at Liberty University and plans to teach Art History and Creative Writing at her local community college after graduation. 

When she isn’t sipping pumpkin spice coffee and madly typing away in her office, you can find her biking with her daughter or painting her next masterpiece while watching the squirrels. 

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