Making the decision to adopt transracially requires a lot of careful thought and self-examination. While it would be nice to think that we live in a post-racial society and that race doesn’t matter, it’s just not reality. When adopting transracially, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
1) How diverse is the area where I live?
2) How supportive will my family and friends be?
3) Can I provide a child of a different race with connections to his or her culture?
4) Am I prepared to help my child deal with inevitable discrimination?
5) How can I find resources to educate myself on how to best parent a child of a different race?
If, for example, you live in an area where there are very few people of color, transracial adoption might not be best for you and for the child you will parent. You may have to be prepared to deal with ignorant or even racist comments from people close to you: are you prepared to place your child’s well-being above those relationships? Try to think beyond your child’s infancy. Are there schools in your area that have diversity your child could attend? Are you prepared to deal with strangers who ask overly personal questions, or even ones who show outright hostility because of your decision to parent a child of a different race? It would be nice to think that all your child needs is your love and that race doesn’t matter, but the reality is that your mantle of “whiteness” won’t extend to them when they are not with you. As they grow older, they will experience discrimination, regardless of how “progressive” an area you live in. Are you willing to do the work to educate yourself on how to best advocate for them?
As a parent who adopted transracially, I would ask you to carefully consider the answers to all these questions before making this decision. Seek out books and resources that center the experiences of transracial adoptees and learn from them what growing up with parents who didn’t “look” like them was like. And, if you do decide you are equipped to adopt transracially, understand that this is a lifelong journey of self-reflection, education, and learning how to best equip your child to operate in a world that may not place him or her in the highest regard.
Julianna Mendelsohn lives in sunny South Florida where, odds are, it is hot enough right now that she is sweating just a little, no matter what she is doing. She is the brains, brawn, blood, sweat, and tears behind The Adoption Mentor and is thrilled to be able to help others build their families through adoption. She is a former elementary school teacher, current MS in school counseling student, Sephora junkie, and the momma via domestic adoption to one lovely daughter.