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Preparing For Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoption is a beautiful thing, but it does mean that you have to talk about race, straightforwardly, directly, and often painfully. Now, in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement, conversations about white supremacy, inequality, and social justice are non-negotiable. How will you talk to your child about race, and how will others interrogate your child’s race? What challenges will your child or family have? These are excellent questions and legitimate concerns. They shouldn’t stop you from adopting a child of another race, but there are far different preparations required when doing so. You have an immense responsibility to your child’s culture, background, and race. Here are a few thoughts on preparing for transracial adoption.

Find support. Think of your community and where you live: will your child always be the minority? If so, how will be you make their life as diverse and inclusive as possible? Finding people who share your child’s cultural history is a huge source of support. These individuals can help answer questions you may have about experiences with race, as well as resources, groups, or individuals in your community that can offer help and support.

What about your community? Church, family, friends, a book group, a volunteer organization—each of these spaces can help expand your network to bring more people into your family’s life that identify with your child, or the experience of adopting a child of another race. The McKivigan family found support in their local McDonald’s play area. It is okay to ask questions, not to know everything, or to rely on others for help. That is what communities are for!

Read. There are so many incredible books, blogs, and resources for learning about other cultures and transracial adoption experiences. Although your community is an incredible resource, it is your responsibility to educate yourself. Books and articles written by individuals who have shared a similar experience are invaluable. They can help answer some of the tougher questions about race, and the experience of parenting a child whose race and culture differ from your own. Creating a Family compiled some of the best books on transracial adoption. 

Stock your home. Non-white children don’t have the same resources as white children for reading or learning about kids who share their experiences. It’s a huge problem, and it plagues every part of media and consumption. Stock up on children’s books, TV shows, movies, and experiences that celebrate your child’s race, show experiences that match their skin tone, and speak about their culture and diversity. The New York Times put together an age-appropriate guide to must-have literature on race and diversity. White children receive ample exposure to children of their same culture—children from other races deserve to be the hero of the story. 

Do your research. What are the cultural norms and traditions shared by your child’s culture? Are their holidays different? What are the best ways of taking care of their hair and skin? What do they celebrate, and what is their belief system? Research as much as you possibly can about your child’s race and culture so you can fold theirs into your own, sharing traditions, celebrating holidays, honoring beliefs, and nurturing their body in the ways that are authentic to their heritage. We love this story from the Wilder family about their unique transracial adoption and parenting experience. 

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