A survey from the Department of Health and Human Services reported that over 40% of adoptions in the United States are transracial.
But even though this multi-cultural family model has become more prevalent doesn’t mean it’s not without its fair share of challenges.
While adoption, in general, poses some obstacles for parents and families alike, there are some specific concerns you should consider before adopting a child from a different race.
Judgment from Family, Friends, and Society
You may have made the decision to adopt a child from a different race. This indicates that you have an openness to that child.
But unfortunately, not everyone will always share your perspective. When you add a different child to your home, it isn’t simply that the child is different. You become different, and so does your entire family. You may be criticized, judged and ostracized depending on your social circle and community.
Adopted Children Are Pressured to Feel Grateful
Some adoptive parents choose children from certain countries in an attempt to rescue them from a bad situation. Abuse, poverty, and civil strife are only some of the brutal realities children face in other parts of the world.
It is a beautiful intention to provide a safe and secure home for children. However, this can be problematic when you make children feel as though they owe you something in return.
That can be an unfair burden to place on children of a different race or color. Your relationship with them should be based on love and gratitude, but not obligatory love and gratitude.
Discussions about Racism and Inequality
Many western countries, including the United States, are becoming more and more inclusive to different races and cultures. But the unfortunate reality is that racism still exists. It exists in our schools, in our churches, and in our public gathering places.
It determines how people interact with each other and how they perceive one another. It’s the reason behind so many tragedies.
Therefore, if Caucasian parents choose to adopt a child of color, or from a different race, it’s crucial that you acknowledge and discuss these social injustices. Your home is assuredly loving, welcoming and safe, but make sure it’s not sheltered. If you don’t discuss these matters, your child may have a rude awakening and face much-unexpected shock.
Will Your Child Develop a Strong, Racial Identity?
It’s obvious that when you adopt a child from a different race, he or she is literally leaving one race for another. And even though the child may become well-integrated in the new lifestyle, the truth of the matter is: the child is racially different.
It can be especially difficult if the child doesn’t look like you and your family. And if your community isn’t diverse, your child’s apart-ness can feel especially obvious.
To help your child maintain a connection to his or her roots, make his original birth culture a part of your family. You can do this by observing national, cultural and religious holidays. You can learn to prepare cuisine from their home country.
You can learn some of the language and music, or at least, make space for it in your home. By doing these things, your adopted child doesn’t have to ignore, suppress or feel shame toward his racial identity.
All siblings, whether biological or adopted, fight. It’s only natural and it comes with the territory of having a family. But adopted children of a different race can face challenges from their siblings, young and old.
Before adopting your new child, help your other children develop an open mind by discussing different races and cultures. You may identify racial prejudices and tendencies that your children unknowingly have. So, make sure you address them before your adopted child arrives.
Once the adopted child is in your family, it’s clear: he or she is different, but you need to make sure that your parenting doesn’t change from one child to the next. Have an open, honest dialogue with all your children, and be sure to never tolerate even the tiniest bit of racism. This goes for racism toward your adopted child and all other racial groups.
Your family’s behavior sets the tone for everyone else’s behavior toward your adopted child. As parents, it’s up to you to set high standards.
Contrasting and Competing Beliefs and Mindsets
Depending on the age of your adopted child, you may find that her beliefs and mindset don’t necessarily match up with yours.
For example, if you’re a Christian, Caucasian family who adopts a child from Asia, this child may very well have life views that are influenced by Eastern thought and philosophy. Or, what if a Jewish family adopts a child from an African country? Clearly, there will be a difference in cultural, social, religious and ideological views.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and ask whether you’re comfortable with having opposing beliefs in the same home. Will your child have to abandon certain beliefs? Will different ideas be a source of division and pain?
For many people, religion is a way to create peace and love, not only within yourself but in your community and the world over. This is usually easy to accomplish when everyone shares the same religious beliefs as you do.
But what happens when different religions have to sit at the same table? Especially when these religions believe very different things?
These are questions parents must ask themselves when it comes to adopting a child whose religious background is different from their own. If religion forms an important part of the child’s identity, it’s important that you know how to make room for two creeds.
Depending on your adopted child’s race and your community’s diversity, the child may feel distrustful. Why? Because if they observe racist behavior from people like you – even if they never experience it from you – it can challenge them to trust you since you are “one of them”.
The decision to adopt any child is a big and beautiful parenting step. When you want to adopt a child from a different race, you inevitably face certain challenges. By becoming aware of these challenges and working through them honestly and openly, you can create a family environment in which your adopted child can thrive.