You’ve already weighed the pros and cons of transracial adoption. You have also likely experienced anxiety and moments of uncertainty. Questions have no doubt taken residence a time or two. Maybe you’ve even been told about the misconceptions of transracial adoption and wondered if they were true. Don’t worry. Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to help you dispel some of the myths associated with transracial adoption.
Myth: Transracial Adoption is Harmful to Children
Fact: A recent study shows how nontoxic transracial adoption is towards children. The study examines self-reported data from about 600 transracially adopted adolescents. All were adopted by white Minnesota families. Results showed that white adoptees and transracial adoptees did not differ in their feelings about adoption, pro-family attitudes and have more prosocial behavior.
However, transracial adoption is not harmful to children. In our previous blog, Benefits of Transracial Adoption, we talked about the benefits of transracial adoption — further dispelling the myths associated with transracial adoption. Transracial adoption enhances the ability to have a diversity of culture within the home and creates a broader sense of acceptance of racial identities and self-esteem. This, in turn, creates an healthy environment, more awareness about the difference in race and cultures, and an opportunity for growth.
Much like the novel Wonder, looking or being different doesn’t equal harm. Your child being of a different race doesn’t mean that you’re not family. It just means that all families are created differently. Instead of being harmful, transracial adoption gives both you and your child the opportunity to grow and learn new things together as a family.
Myth: Talking about Race Breeds Racism
Fact: Not talking about race hurts your child more in the long run. Talking about race actually opens the lines of communication to teach them about acceptance and educate them about the current culture surrounding racism.
In order to have thoughtful and productive conversations about race with your children, you must lead by example. It is important to be informed by making individual connections with others to widen your network of friends and being a part of different communities. Articulating to your child that everyone looks different. Also, acknowledging curiosities about the different features of others and allowing your child to ask questions gives him or her the opportunity to have a more meaningful and open conversation about race with you.
Talking about race will help your child understand their world better and have the ability to know how to navigate any challenges they may face. Most importantly, do not be afraid to talk to your child about this topic. Showing your child that their differences are a good thing will benefit them in the long run.
Myth: Love will Fix Everything
Fact: This misconception surrounds the idea that adoptive parents’ love for their adopted child supersedes all things, such as any challenges or doubts brought on from the outside world. Unfortunately, this isn’t correct. Love is indeed a substantial concept, but it isn’t a one-way street. It is not the ultimate problem solver that makes everything go away. Just like any type of relationship, it takes constant effort for a parent-child bond to work. Not every child will face the same struggles. While love is one of the most important things to have in a family, it’s not the end-all-be-all when it comes to parenting. All children need more than just love from their parents. Your family is no exception to the rule.
Blanket statements like this can be harmful to those struggling with feeling the need for love to be the cure-all when trying to parent as a transracial adoptive parent. Remembering this will make it easier when your child is feeling as if they don’t quite belong.
Myth: Parents are Not Able to Love their Child the Same as a Different Race
Fact: While the thought of raising a child of a different race seems intimidating in theory, it’s not in actuality. In fact, transracial adoptions are becoming more and more commonplace. More than 40% of adoptions are transracial. Plenty of families out there have gone through the same process.
Yes, race is a major part of transracial adoption. It’s something prospective adoptive parents should be prepared for and carefully considered throughout the process. However, loving your child should not be dictated by their race or the color of their skin. Love may not be the answer to everything, but it certainly is not something that has rules or guidelines. Love is simply the way you show you care, support, interact and understand your child’s needs.
Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall, authors of Inside Transracial Adoption, discuss the similarities between the story, The Ugly Duckling and transracial adoption. Much like the mother duck in the story cannot teach the baby swan how to be a swan because she is a duck, she can only teach her child what it’s like to be a bird. In the same regard, you may not be the same race as your child, so you cannot teach them the specific traditions in their culture or what it feels like to look different, because that is something unique to the individual. But you can teach your child how to be a good person and that being different is okay. You must express to your child that they can’t try to blend in when they were born to stand out. Your child may be different from you, but that does not mean you don’t love them or that you aren’t family. Steinberg and Hall talk about parents being able to put their child’s needs first, to see their children for who they really are and for all that they can be. Again there are no rules for how or why you care, support, interact and understand your child – you simply do those things because you are their parent and your child needs those things.
Each and every adoption story is different. But they all have one thing in common. You love your child and you are a family. Race or a difference of skin tone isn’t the reason you are adopting your child. If it is, however, you may want to reconsider your “why” when adopting.
Myth: Differences will Fade Away
Fact: Differences don’t disappear with time. As your child grows, so will their awareness. Nurture and Nature must work in tandem — one cannot work without the other.
At a very young age, your child will begin to acknowledge different physical features between his or herself and others, such as skin tone. They will also begin to ask questions and process emotions. These only get more complex as your child gets older. That’s why teaching your child early on that differences aren’t a bad thing, that your child is special and there is nothing wrong with that, is so important.
Myth: Adopting Transracially Shows You’re a Good Person
Fact: Much like you aren’t adopting for race or skin tone, you aren’t adopting just so you can look like the hero. Rather, you are adopting transracially because you truly believe that the color of your child’s skin or the difference in your child’s race doesn’t play a role as to why you are becoming a parent.
Adopting a child should come from a deeper place in the heart. If you are adopting because giving a child a loving home is more important to you than their skin tone or being the hero in your own story, then you’re doing the right thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Myths Associated with Transracial Adoption
Transracial adoptions always come with a learning curve of unique challenges; but, it is one that your adoption agency, agent, and community resources can help with. You are not alone in this process of eliminating the fears and questions you may have about transracial adoption. Debunking these myths associated with transracial adoption may not fix everything, but it is a great place to start when thinking about adoption. Here at Adoption Choices of Colorado, we want to set your mind at ease.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Taylor Tsakopulos, the bestselling student. She has interned locally in Denver and internationally in Dublin, Ireland, taken classes/workshops and worked odd jobs and yet always comes back to being a student and the desire to learn or create.
When she isn’t creating content she’s off dancing and hiking. Always chasing after new things and experiences. After living and working in Europe she is hungry for more.
Azucena Espindola , Professor Christopher Bickle , & CALIFORNIA POLYTECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY . (2011). LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH: A LOOK AT RACE IN TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION . Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1066&context=socssp
Dawes, L. (2014, November 14). The Myths About Trans-Racial Adoption. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/myths-about-adoption.
Is Transracial Adoption Harmful to Kids? (2016, May 11). Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/adopting-reason/201605/is-transracial-adoption-harmful-kids.
Vittrup, B. (2019, April 21). How silence can breed prejudice: A child development professor explains how and why to talk to kids about race. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/07/06/how-silence-can-breed-prejudice-a-child-development-professor-explains-how-and-why-to-talk-to-kids-about-race/.