In 2015, my husband and I adopted our daughter, making us a transracial family. While my husband and I are white, my daughter is black. Though there are challenges that we face as parents, the majority of the challenges that are experienced in transracial adoption are by the adoptees. Though there are countless joys in parenting a child and learning about their culture, there are things to be aware of when adopting a child of another race.
You don’t have the lived experiences of a person of another race.
Though you have your own experiences, when you have a transracial family through adoption, it’s important to remember that your lived experiences won’t be the same as your child. This may seem challenging to you at first, but you can navigate by reaching out to people of color in your community that can help. It’s also important to ensure that your child is represented as much as possible since his or her parents won’t reflect how they look. You can look for doctors, teachers, and other professionals of color that your child can see on a daily basis. It is also incredibly important to ensure that your child attends a diverse school to see that their needs are met and that they experience other families and children that look like them.
You may not have thought much about representation because if you’re white like me, you’ve not had to seek it. Mainstream media highlights the experiences of white people more often. We know that representation is extremely important to a child’s self esteem, confidence, and overall mental health.
You can learn more about why representation is critical here.
When I adopted my daughter, I knew that I needed help in hair care. I was quick to reach out to my friends who had hair similar to their own and to contact professionals who could provide support with proper products, age appropriate styles, and guidance.
I knew that this was a very important part of my daughter’s upbringing. I have had the joy of learning how to do her hair, having the opportunity to spend more time with her one on one while we do it, and have met so many wonderful women in our community and around the country who are passionate about black hair care and its cultural legacy.
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
You need to expose your child to events and opportunities where they can be with people that look like them. This can be hard for adoptive parents because it may be outside of their own experiences and thus, uncomfortable. The important thing to remember is that your child may be uncomfortable a lot of the time because he or she doesn’t always fit in. These are critical and priceless opportunities for both you and your children.
It’s also extremely important to listen and learn from adult adoptees who were adopted by parents of another race. Their stories are raw and often filled with trauma. It’s important that we elevate their voices and ensure that we listen to understand and do our best to parent our own children.
Ways to Support your Child
Your child may need to talk to a counselor or another person that looks like them. They may want to do things that you haven’t done before and they may want to have conversations that you may need support with. You can do your part by attending training, listening to the voices of adoptees, and continuing to educate yourself.
Though we know that parenting is a joy in itself, there are also numerous things to learn and think about when adopting a child of another race. Before you make a commitment to doing this, you should stop and think about what you’re able to do as a parent. If you’re not ready to accept the stories of adoptees, expand your circle and dedicate time to cultural experiences, you’re likely not ready to be a part of transracial adoption.