How to have a Successful Transracial Adoption
2020 has been a difficult year for many. We’ve faced a pandemic, natural disasters, violence from authority, social unrest; our eyes have been opened to issues of class, gender and race differences like never before. This backdrop sheds a different light on the topic of transracial adoption. Now more than ever, it is important to understand how different other people’s life experiences can be from our own. When we address these differences with research, understanding and care, we will set ourselves up for success.
Adoption is a very personal experience that deeply affects the lives of everyone involved. When you adopt a child, you want what’s best for that child. You want to provide for them, cherish them, help prepare them to navigate this world. Help set them up for success. But when your child looks different than you do, they’ll need to navigate the world differently than you do. With that in mind, here are some tips for how to have a successful transracial adoption.
When considering any decision as important as adoption, you’ll want to do research. Look at the pros and cons, the impact your choice will have. The changes you might need to make to your lifestyle or living environment. When adopting any child, you’ll want to do research on childcare, parenting, education systems in your area and the like. When adopting a child of a different race, particularly a minority, you’ll have an additional layer of research. How diverse is the area you’re living in? The schools? Are there sports or clubs and extracurricular activities in your area that are inclusive?
You’ll also want to do research into the culture your child comes from. What holidays and history is celebrated? What difficulties have there been and what difficulties are there now? What are the staple foods, music, literature and other entertainment people in that culture are familiar with? How important is the family, and what are expectations on the family? All of this research will help lay a firm foundation for when you finally have your beautiful, precious baby in your home.
Diversify Your Experience
Everyone wants to feel like they belong. If your child is growing up in an environment where they look like the odd one out, they might start to feel that way. But if you have a diverse social circle, your child will see that everyone belongs, which shows them beyond a doubt that they clearly do too.
Celebrating different cultures within your social circle can be a lot of fun! One way you might do this is to have a potluck meal once a month where people bring homemade dishes from their cultures to share with everyone. Other variations of this would be to have everyone try to make dishes from one culture, or rather than bring food try to make it all together! Food is just one way to explore a culture; you can make get-togethers around music, dancing, movies or something more educational. Explore with your friend groups to see what works for you.
Pay Attention to the Media You (and Your Child) Consume
Media is key to how a child relates to others and even how they think about themselves. When there is a lack of representation, children of color may suffer from low self-esteem and white children may have strong implicit biases. As issues of representation have been coming to light, there has been some change to make media more proportionally representative, so there are more opportunities for children to ‘see themselves’ in all sorts of roles now. Stories with strong protagonists that are people of color will encourage your child to explore all the possibilities of what they can do.
Be Ready for Some Negatives
When something is different than the ‘norm,’ people will have varying reactions to it. Anything from genuine curiosity to a lack of understanding to blatant disapproval. Most reactions regarding adoption will land in the genuine curiosity and lack of understanding categories. While it may get annoying to deal with some less-than-tactful questions regarding adoption, being part of a transracial adoption can bring out even more. Weather the storm with some at-ready responses to such inquiries.
You will also likely need to have some difficult conversations with your child as they grow up. Discrimination, bullying and racism are all things your child may encounter and that you will need to help them make sense of and overcome.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t let the negatives discourage you too much, though! For all the negatives out there, there is also support. Your diverse social circle should be a supportive one you can vent to. Your friends and family may also know of local resources you can utilize.
In addition, the online world can offer support. Facebook groups and websites like MeetUp can provide ways for families from all over and in all sorts of situations to talk to each other and offer advice and encouragement.
How to have a Successful Transracial Adoption
Adopting a child of a different race or cultural background can have its challenges, but it also has rewards. You will get to have a special window into experiences you wouldn’t otherwise know about. Of course, it’s not the same as living them, but having even a little insight into how someone else encounters the world will enrich your own life beyond measure.
Meet the Author: Darby Summers is an avid fan of fantasy and sci-fi stories in all mediums, and aspires to share a story of her own to add to the genres she has adored her entire life. Raised in a house with the rule: “you can stay up as late as you want, as long as you’re reading,” Darby’s passion for reading, literature, and language was inspired at a young age, and continued through her achievement of a Bachelor’s in English from Allegheny College in 2017. Darby is currently writing blog posts for Adoption Choices of New York, and is enjoying the opportunity to be part of helping families find each other and a source of information and support throughout what can be a very difficult time in life.
When she isn’t absorbed in the latest series to capture her attention, Darby enjoys working on cosplays and going to cons with friends. Her perfect night consists of staying in playing games (of the video, board or card varieties), making some delicious homemade pizza, and settling in on the couch for a movie with her husband, Adam, and cat, Sylvie.