It is estimated that more than 14% of all U.S. adoptions are transracial. Transracial adoption is when the child adopted is of a different race than the adopting parents. Typically this means a chid of color being adopted by Caucasian parents, but that is not always the case.
There was a time when transracial adoptions were not allowed, the consensus being that a child was better off being raised in a same-race home. With a lack of adoptive families of color, that meant that many children of color grew up without a permanent family. The thought now is that transracial adoption can and does work in the best interest of the child when the adopting family is well educated and prepared to raise the child with a sense of cultural pride and identity.
Before adopting transracially, adoptive parents need to ask themselves some questions:
- What are your feelings about race and culture?
As much as we may think of ourselves as "not racist", racism does exist in most people to some degree.
- What are the feelings of your family members and friends about race?
Would they welcome a child of another race?
- Are your neighborhoods and schools racially diverse?
If not, would you be willing to move?
- Do you have relationships with people of other races?
It is important for kids to have role models of the same race as they are.
- Are you ready to become a "different" family?
Adopting a chid of another race will make your family very visible and different from most other families.
- Are you ready to adopt a new culture as well as a child?
Developing cultural and racial pride are absolute necessities when raising a child of another race.
Studies of transracial adoptees have shown that the biggest mistake made in the early years of transracial adoptions was well-meaning families raising their transracially adopted children the same as if they'd been born to them. In most cases this meant Caucasian families raising their Asian or Black children as if they were White. Adult adoptees reported growing up not knowing who they were and/or not having a cultural identity. We now understand that talking openly about culture and race is extremely important. Exposure to cultural experiences and same-race role models is vital to the child developing a sense of self.
Adopting across racial or cultural lines can be an enriching and rewarding experience for everyone in the family. It is important to remember, however, that there are issues and challenges unique to being a mixed-race family. On-going open dialog in the home and a willingness to seek support and experiences outside the home are imperative to the well-being of a transracially adopted child.
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