things transracial adoptive parents should know

two women taking selfie
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

you’ll fail your child if you actively blind yourself to their race. you’ll confuse your child, who’ll grow up profoundly uncertain in a world hellbent on categorizing them by color.

allow their color to paint their world.

don’t celebrate their color with tokenized references to superficial beauty and pride; show them their color is a daily part of their life by addressing its social complexities, historical relationships to white society, and negative–yes, the racism–reactions to it.

point out the lack of racial mirroring across all colors in media. acknowledge your child’s desire to be white, should that happen. recognize why this is happening and lean into their insecurity by admitting how they deserve better. tell them representation can be, should be, better.

in a same-race home, your child would have been taught racial survival skills you can’t provide. accepting your limitation as a parent isn’t defeatist. instead, your weakness can help you grow. if you don’t have friends of your child’s race, get them. if you aren’t in an area where they’re available, ask yourself what that means for your child.

ask yourself how, if you can’t navigate racialized conversations on your own, your child will manage.

your child is subject to unique health issues related to their race. accept that. find out what they are–it’s not racist to accept racial differences. your child probably already as a limited or unknown medical history. do not accept this as an unfortunate fact. find the funds to test them so if they get sick, it’s not a reactive crisis response. adoption is an investment in a child’s life. obtaining genetic testing and other medical records is a gift that could quite literally last them their lifetime.

ask yourself what books you’re reading to your child. if the main characters don’t look like your child, question that.

your child will search your face for any resemblances, no matter how illogical. this is a natural, human response as they search for belonging. this will never stop. you can’t solve this for them, so let them ask about their birth family. let them search for them. if it makes you uncomfortable, imagine never knowing who you look like.

imagine never knowing why your body behaves as it does while it grows.

grayscale photography of woman

listen to their friends. do you hear race or religion used as jokes? those aren’t rites of passage that children must endure. show your child it’s unacceptable by confronting those children. this will instill more confidence in your child than any transracial adoptive family social group you join. this will show them you see them and your next to them during their struggle as a person of color.

talk about race. read books by people of color who talk about race. if you didn’t do this before you adopted your child, ask yourself if you truly were prepared to raise a child of a different race, then pick up a book and read it. consume black culture. consume asian culture. consume any subculture you don’t fit into as a white person to show your child it’s normal. let your child question it. let yourself admit you can’t fit into it, but you want them to embrace it.

 if you didn’t have friends of color before you transracially adopted, ask yourself why. if you still don’t, consider what message this sends your child.

love your child by loving your differences. you won’t follow a similar life path; color has already split that road. this is not a bad thing; in fact, that’s a strength. lean on each other’s racialized world views. let race be a permanent guest in your home instead of a taboo specter. all of this will allow your child to flourish in their skin, instead of resenting it. that should be the ultimate goal of every transracial adoptive parent, and only when you can embrace their status as a person of color will you help your child grow.

One thought on “things transracial adoptive parents should know

  1. I wish more people that get kids thought about this before having them 😢 but it seems like that type, like: that’s their thing, they don’t think about others! Except maybe others’ praise of them for being a parent… Especially across color lines.

    I’m reading bell hooks’s Rock My Soul & she quotes Nathaniel Branden saying that “consciousness” allows us some autonomy in seeing reality and being able to navigate situations for our survival which I think is said is needed for self-esteem. Kind of fits with what you say about not ignoring race!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s