Transracial Adoption — Its Effects on Children and How Parents Can Help

Ways you can help a child of a different race and ethnicity who joined your family through transracial adoption or foster care feel more secure and safe in your home.

Foster care and adoption bring uncertainty to a child’s life. These children face a continuum of unanswered questions, searching for where they came from, who they are and who they will become. When looking at a child in the system from a bird’s eye view, most of their identity has been taken away from them, and everything they ever knew has vanished.

Now try adding race on top of that.

In transracial adoption, a child from one race or ethnicity is adopted by an adult (parent(s)) of a different race or ethnicity. In most cases, these children are raised by the customs of the adults in their households. This means learning and following the traditions of the adults raising them. Although it is good to teach your child  the traditions/customs that helped shape you as a person, it’s also important to keep your child’s traditions/customs alive as well. Again, foster care and adoption bring uncertainty to a child’s life. If you as the caregiver are not also inviting your child’s race, ethnicity, where they came from, their cultural traditions/customs, etc., you are not fully inviting them into your home.

Children in the system already face a significant amount of trauma due to abuse, neglect or other hard experiences in their life. The one trauma that doesn’t get as much light, but is just as important, is the trauma they experience from losing their biological family and their birth place.

“I spent the first 12 years of my life thinking that I was a little white girl. And when I found out that I wasn’t, it wasn’t just a revelation, it was an identity crisis,” one adoptee shared on a 2018 episode of the podcast Code Switch, titled “Transracial Adoptees On Their Racial Identity And Sense Of Self.”

 

Adoption and fostering aren’t easy, but there are ways you can help a child of a different race and ethnicity feel more secure and safe in your home. You can:

1.     First talk with family and friends and see if transracial adoption is right for you before welcoming a child of a different race into your home.

2.     Find mentors and role models for your child of their race/ethnicity.

3.     Make new connections in your community with people who celebrate and observe the same traditions and customs as your child.

4.     Keep kids talking by finding time and opportunities for discussions about race and ethnicities.

5.     Acknowledge racism and help guide your child through racism.

6.     Embrace new traditions and cultures of your own, your child’s and others that are not within the origins of yourself or your child’s.

7.     Consider adopting a sibling group.

(Adopt Us Kids, 2002-2021).

Savannah Carter | Foster Care & Adoption Specialist

For More Resources

Ted Talks:

The Reality of Transracial Adoption | Kim Van Brun

Reclaiming My Voice as a Transracial Adoptee | Sara Jones:

Adopting a Child of a Different Race? Let’s Talk | Susan Devan Harness:

 

Podcasts:

Code Switch: Transracial Adoptees On Their Racial Identity And Sense of Self

Content on the topic of transracial adoption by youth adoptees, adult adoptees and adult adoptive parents:

The Archibald Project

Adoption by Family Type: Racially and Culturally Diverse Families

Perspectives of People Raised in Racially and Culturally Diverse Families

One Reply to “Transracial Adoption — Its Effects on Children and How Parents Can Help”

  1. Very well wrote piece, I hope it’s helpful for families considering adoption. I especially agree with number 5 acknowledging racism and guiding your child thru. Everyone should take this approach.

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