We have all seen the covers of People magazine featuring the beautiful photos of Sandra Bullock carrying her chubby thighed, smiley faced, African american baby boy or Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with their gaggle of children of all different colors, shapes and sizes looking so regal and trendy. Thirty years ago, these families would have been viewed as “abnormal” and different, but in today’s world, they are becoming quite the norm.
As the idea of a “traditional” family becomes increasingly broadened in our society, the more people begin to consider adoption from not only different countries, but also diverse cultures, ethnicities and religions. This is known as transracial adoption. There are lots of factors to consider when deciding if adoption is right for your family, but especially when contemplating adoption of a child from a culture other than your own. Will your family and friends accept this child as if they were biologically yours? Will you be able to celebrate this child’s heritage and background just like you would celebrate your own? Would you be able to help them explore their roots and culture to aid in their identity of self, especially in their adolescent years? It can be overwhelming and exciting to think about the possibility of parenting any child, but especially important when considering a child from a background different than that of your nuclear family.
The first step in this process is sitting down and having a heart to heart and possibly a difficult conversation with your family. You will want to not only find out their thoughts on adoption in general, but specifically how they would feel about accepting a child from a diverse background (different skin color, religion, language) into their family. Next, you want to really dissect the area you live in. Do you reside in a neighborhood that houses multicultural families where your child will not be the only person of their background in the area? Are there diverse schools, churches and social events available for your family to attend? Do you have friends who have a different skin color than you? These are all very crucial questions that need to have positive answers to them in order to truly consider transracial adoption as a possibility to complete your family. Your child will need a solid foundation outside of his/her adopted nuclear family to connect with. Lastly, you will need to identify a network of people to support you. Yes, your family and friends are probably a positive group of people in your life who lift you up when you are down and tell you what you need to hear even when you don’t want to hear it…. but have they adopted? If so, have they adopted a child with a diversity background or from another race? Probably not. This is why it is imperative to have resources to get the guidance and support you need from people with their own personal experiences with the questions, roadblocks and dilemmas you likely will encounter as a parent to an adopted transracial child.
There are a plethora of these resources out there to help you navigate your way through ultimately deciding if transracial adoption is right for your family. These can be found in the form of blogs, books, websites, news articles, conferences, mentoring programs, webinars, documentaries and even support groups online or in your area put on by a local adoption agency. The following are a few of our favorites that we recommend to our Hopeful Families who are currently waiting to adopt a child of a diverse background other than their own. “White Sugar, Brown Sugar: The Sweet Life of our Transracial, Adoptive Family” which is an online blog by Rachel Garlinghouse. She is an adoptive momma of four sweet babies and her blog is full of interviews, tips and tricks, and funny and uplifting stories. You can check her out at: http://www.whitesugarbrownsugar.com. We also love the book “I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World” by Marguerite Wright which can be purchased on Amazon for less than $15. We particularly love how it dives into myths and stereotypes of transracial adoption with no reservation and can be a great starting point for how to deal with other people who may not understand your decision to adopt outside of your own race. Lastly, we highly recommend reaching out to your adoption coordinator to inquire about local and online groups they can recommend for you to join. These are safe places for you to ask hard questions, share your story with others, laugh together, cry together and most importantly, come together in support since you will be in the presence of others who are walking in similar shoes that you are going to walk in.
We want to wish you the very best of luck on your adoption journey, wherever that may lead you and want you to know were are here for you whenever you decide to embark on the most incredible adventure of your life called parenthood!