Transracial Adoption


According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey of adoptive parents, 4 out of 10 adopted children are in families from a transracial adoption (also known as interracial adoption). This means the parents are of a different race or ethnicity than their child.

Most children adopted internationally (84%) are in an interracial family. Only 28% of U.S. foster care adoptions are transracial, and 21% of children who were adopted privately from within the U.S. are transracial adoptions.

The history of transracial adoption shows there has been different opinions between social workers, child welfare organizations, state law, and adoptive parents. The first recorded adoption in the U.S. of an African-American child placed in a Caucasian family’s home took place in Minnesota in 1948.

Minority group rights to children of their same race are only legally enforceable in the case of Native Americans, since the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.

Transracial adoption is becoming more common and accepted as families continue to open their arms to children from all kinds of backgrounds. For U.S. private adoptions, prospective birthparents can and often do choose to place their child with an adoptive family of a different race.

Before adopting transracially, hopeful 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 lots of 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 child 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.

Adopting across racial or cultural lines can be an enriching and rewarding experience for everyone in the family. It is important to remember 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.

Additional information about transracial adoption can be found at: