Transracial (or interracial) adoption is when a family adopts a child who has a different racial background. Once somewhat rare, adoptions such as these are now quite common. In fact, some studies suggest that are growing in frequency.
For instance, take the following facts into consideration:
- Among all non-Caucasian children who are adopted, 73% of them are adopted into Caucasian families.
- Some 84% of international adoptions are interracial.
- About 3 out of every 5 international adoptions involve a child of Asian ancestry.
- Agencies that received federal funding are not permitted to delay or deny an adoption based on the race of the child and/or parents, as per the Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994.
- Studies show that interracial / transracial adoptions can provide a stable home for children in need, with more than 75% of transracially adopted children adjusting well to their new homes.
- A 1995 study determined that interracial adoption had no negative impact on a child when it comes to “adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, peer relationships, parental and adult relationships.”
It’s clear that transracial adoptions are now fairly common, but being commonplace does not mean they are without their own special concerns and considerations.
If you are considering adopting and may create an interracial family as a result – not an unexpected outcome if you’re adopting internationally – the following suggestions should be taken into consideration:
Understand the Differences: It may be nice to think that you can have a “colorblind” life, but the fact is that your child may experience things you will not based on their ethnicity. Understand that and be prepared for it.
Talk to Other Transracial Families: There is often no greater teacher than experience, so use the experience of others to help you better prepare for life as an interracial or transracial family.
Talk About Cultural Customs Before Adoption: You and your partner, along with any close family members who are a regular part of your life, should have a frank discussion about your child’s cultural identity and what customs you’ll want to embrace and what customs you won’t before you move ahead with adoption. These things can have a big impact on your life.
Let Your Child Decide: You may have decided to fully embrace your child’s birth heritage, only to discover when they get older that they just aren’t that interested in it. Or you may go light on highlighting such cultural touchstones, only to find that your child craves them and wants to fully embrace their birth culture. Don’t force either on your child. Allow them to guide you when it comes to what they desire and are comfortable with.
Let Them Be Represented: If you have adopted interracially, be cognizant of the fact that your child is likely to want to see themselves represented in the world around them, something that is often too easy to ignore. Pay attention to the movies, books, games and TV they experience, and allow them the joy of seeing themselves in their entertainment. This can have a positive impact on their self-esteem.
Be Prepared For People Who Disappoint You: The sad truth is, not everyone is going to be okay with your interracial family – and some of the people who end up on the wrong side of embracing your new family may surprise you. Hope for the best, but steel yourself for such disappointments. You never know what is truly in someone’s heart until you have to confront it.
Finally, remember this simple fact: your transracial family is just that, a FAMILY. Grow together with love, respect, and kindness, and you’ll share a wonderful life together.
CELEBRATING OUR 25TH YEAR of assisting families in completing international adoptions! European Adoption Consultants, Inc (EAC) is a non profit 501(c)(3) international child adoption placing agency. EAC is Hague Accredited, China (CCCWA) Licensed, and approved to complete adoptions in many countries around the world. As one of the larger international adoption agencies, we have assisted in over 8,000 adoptions since 1991. Currently we have adoption programs in China, Bulgaria, Poland, Uganda, Ukraine, India, Panama, Colombia, Honduras, and Haiti.