Transracial adoption can be a sensitive topic. All it takes is a brief glance outside or a CNN notification to notice the horrors of American race relations, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. People of color in this country have endured centuries of historic trauma.
Transracial adoption presents demanding challenges. Navigating life with a child of a different race can send you into uncharted waters. However, you are far from alone. Statistics from the Institute for Family Studies show that transracial adoption has been on the rise. Between 1999 and 2011, the proportion of adopted kindergartners with racially diverse families rose by 50%. According to these recent studies, the number of multiracial families continues to expand. These families are starting to realize the benefits of transracial adoption.
More than ever before, parents are accepting the challenge and resolving to adopt a child based on love, not looks. Past racism in America brainwashed people into “race-matching,” or only adopting a child that mirrored their features. In 1948, the first recorded transracial adoption took place. Now, as we’re approaching the turn of a new decade, our population is gradually warming up to the idea that differences should be embraced, not buried.
1. Early Exposure
Transracial adoption allows a child to grow up in a wonderfully diverse home. The children can experience people that differ from them, rather than growing up secluded and shielded from the outside world. Interacting with other races early on prevents children from developing intolerance and bigotry in their future. Negative stereotypes on race only fully disappear when you’re immersed in a heterogeneous community, and you witness firsthand the false beliefs perpetuated by society.
It’s simpler than we make it out to be. Collaborating with people different than you disintegrates barriers you might not even see. Segregating oneself reinforces these barriers and emphasizes the idea of “otherness.” Transracial adoptions promote awareness of race relations early on. In 2011, The Journal or Research on Childhood Education found that children in interracial friendships have more positive attitudes about racial differences than peers without these friendships. Exposure to diversity at a young age paves the way for a more open-minded future.
2. Cultural Consideration
Acceptance of race comes hand in hand with cultural understanding. Interaction with those who are different leads to a deeper comprehension of their traditions and customs. It is irresponsible to be totally “color-blind” and neglect the beautiful ethnic identity of your child. Your child’s race and ancestral lineage should be contemplated, appreciated, and celebrated. You will never know what it is like to be a race different than the body you were born into. A white person will never understand the extent of discrimination that people of color endure, and people of color will never experience the same level of privilege that white people are born into. Nevertheless, genuine curiosity and healthy sensitivity open the doors for mutual respect between cultures.
3. Awareness and Acceptance
Life after transracial adoption requires constant consciousness. You need to be completely aware of every interaction. In this country, race will never be ignored. It is constantly bubbling under the surface of every conversation and forever ingrained in our subconscious. Race is not only present in verbal discrimination. There is systemic racism throughout our country; it’s present in our neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, and government.
Transracial adoption is not eye-opening for just your child. It reveals deep-rooted truths embedded in our country since its foundation. Over time, adoptive families develop racial awareness. While others may seem ignorant or apathetic, your family has the ability to gain a unique understanding of our world.
4. Community Connections
As you learn to respect your child’s culture, you will discover people and places you’d never otherwise notice. You should foster a connection between your child and their heritage. Rather than only eating pizza, pasta, and American comfort food, seek to experience your child’s culture. Drive down the block to your local Korean supermarket or Jewish deli. Attend a different church service or unfamiliar festival. Be open to a world that you aren’t used to.
Cautiousness must be exercised when choosing who you surround yourself with. Your town should be a melting pot of languages, outfits, and beliefs. You can learn things from your child’s hairdresser, church group, teacher, and more. By reminding your child of their cultural roots, you urge them to choose their identity rather than assimilating into a pre-existing one.
5. Shattering Stigmas
There are too many misconceptions surrounding transracial adoption. A google search presents over 700,000 results on the topic, most of which are biased and untrue. Education stems from experience. Browsing through articles only reveals so much. Before long, you’ll have to step away from the screen and take a leap of faith in your own life.
The best way to correct misunderstandings about transracial adoption is to adopt. As you learn and grow through your experience with a diverse family, you’ll notice the stigmas that circulate. You have the power to destroy these stigmas.
Family: One of the Greatest Benefits of Transracial Adoption
There is no simple definition for the word family. Is it a husband, wife and child living in a shared space? Of course not! In our modern world, families are an eclectic variety of people that are intertwined in thousands of ways. So is a family a “group of persons with common ancestry”? No, it can’t be that either. Adopted families maintain a beautiful bond despite their lack of DNA. Families aren’t always joined by blood.
So, what is a family, then? Adoption Choices of Oklahoma believes that family goes deeper than a set of mutual characteristics. It transcends biology and dismisses lineage. A true family shares an unconditional vow of love, an intangible force eternally binding. Care, respect, and compassion overflow from united hearts. Families are grounded in acceptance – the prioritization of someone’s soul over their looks or demeanor. It’s a catch-all phrase that says: “We want you here. You belong with us.” Transracial adoption allows a family to form, and for a child to feel an eternal sense of belonging.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!
Krueger, Angela. “Pros and Cons of Transracial Adoption .” Adoption, 2012, fullcircleadoptions.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Pros-and-Cons-of-Transracial-Adoption.pdf.
Lee, Richard M. “The Transracial Adoption Paradox: History, Research, and Counseling Implications of Cultural Socialization.” The Counseling psychologist vol. 31,6 (2003): 711-744.