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Inspiration, Resources, Opinions & Advice From Our Adoption Community

Moving Beyond “Color Blind” Parenting To Value The Human Rainbow

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Adoption is complicated. Transracial adoptive families face additional challenges in their adoption journey. They must learn to juggle the issue of race and how it operates in their children’s lives, as well as their own. To convey that their love is not diminished by racial differences, parents will often assert that they are a “color blind” family.

Certainly love is love, whether families are racially similar or different! At first blush, this color-neutral attitude feels positive. If we look deeper, some issues arise. Race is an integral part of who we are. To act as if it didn’t exist or doesn’t matter creates a disconnect with reality. Race becomes far more than the “elephant in the room.” It becomes the taboo subject that no one discusses. It is a small step for a child to infer “off limits” equals shameful or less than. They get the message and play the charade.

For a real-life perspective of the bittersweet fruit of “color blindness”, read the superb memoir, Split at the Root by Catana Tully, a black Guatemalan raised by white German parents. When we ask a child to act as if a significant part of himself doesn’t matter or exist, we are asking him to live a lie and to deny a basic part of himself. It fractures a child’s identity.

We reinforce ignorance of their racial heritage and increase their need to shelter under our “white privilege.” It leaves them to wrestle alone with their race-based questions, feelings, and experiences. It also means they walk through life in a fog of pretending race isn’t a factor. Check out this video by Dr. Joy DeGruy which highlights how “white privilege” operates in mainstream life in a way which most of us don’t even notice but from which must of us “benefit.”

As parents, we teach our kids many things: our Values, our Family Purpose, how to blossom into their best selves. When we recognize race as a factor, we open the door to teach kids how to navigate their racial reality, how to celebrate race and affirm its value. It invites our kids to have the awkward conversations that reveal how race affects their daily lives. Because it does. It reminds them that our families are strong enough to face the truth and to weather the storm of racial prejudice together. We validate their experiences and feelings without trying to diminish them or make excuses.

Our wish that the world accept our transracial family can result in rose-colored glasses that blind us to subtle instances of our kids being treated differently because of the color of their skin. We cannot allow our goal of racial parity to blind us to the reality of their experiences. We must teach our kids to walk through life as proud members of their race who also happen to live in diverse families. Arm them with the skills to cope with racial bias. Bigotry exists. We must give our kids the tools to overcome it. If we do not prepare them, they will flounder and suffer.

Instead of “color blindness” embrace the various races in our family as equals.