In my first book, Come Rain or Come Shine: A White Parent’s Guide to Adopting and Parenting Black Children, I shared a list of why transracial adoption may not be the best choice for certain individuals. I certainly don’t want to be the Debbie Downer of transracial adoption, but there are specific circumstances that aren’t ideal for a transracial adoptee.
There are, however, some reasons why choosing transracial adoption is a good idea and a healthy consideration for hopeful parents. These include:
1: You Believe Color Matters
Colorblindness is not real. We literally see color, and skin color, specifically, is tied to race. Of course, race is a big topic and brings to mind stereotypes, culture, racism, and injustice. One of my main messages to transracial families is that race should be acknowledged and celebrated, not ignored. Unfortunately, too many hopeful adoptive parents believe that love is enough and love can conquer all. But the truth is, we live in a world wrought with racial injustice. Parents need to be prepared to raise children of color and help them combat the hardships they will inevitably face.
2: You Live, Work, and Play in a Racially Diverse Area
One of my favorite transracial adoption books, In Their Own Voices, is an anthology of stories by transracial adoptees. One of the main messages of the book is that transracial adoptees need frequent and meaningful contact with people who look like them. It can be devastating for transracial adoptees raised in all white communities, not only for the adoptee’s racial identity, but for their relationship with their parents. Living, working, and playing in a diverse area means transracial adoptees have natural opportunities to be around people who look like them.
3: You Are Always Willing to Learn and Change
I would argue that parenting in general requires such a willingness, but parenting a transracial adoptee means being open to possibilities and problems and engaging in those together. Learning should never cease, and change should be the natural response to learning.
4: You Are Engaged in Your Child’s Racial Community
Not only does this create learning opportunities, but it also allows for meaningful relationships to be built between your family and those who look like your children. When meaningful, trusting relationships are formed, parents can have a “village” to help raise their children. Cliché but true, it really does take a village to raise a child.
5: You Are Willing to Stand Up to Injustice
Injustice of any type shouldn’t be tolerated in any family. In particular, a transracial family must be strong, steadfast, and vocal when they see injustices taking place. This can be anything from a microaggression (someone trying to touch your daughter’s cornrows), to a neighbor telling a racist joke, to a whitewashed version of history being taught in your child’s class at school. You must call out racism every single time it presents itself. Yes, this can be uncomfortable, but your child needs to see you saying that he or she matters. Of course, calling out injustice is easier when you have already done 1 to 4 because you are more knowledgeable and confident.
My four children were all adopted transracially, and we’ve encountered numerous questions, comments, and situations. I am thankful for the many ways my husband and I prepared ourselves for our parenting adventure and, I am always learning, changing, and growing so I can be the best mom possible.