Transracial Adoption Success Story
As a birth mother, you may have serious and well-earned concerns about transracial adoptions. There are too many stories of now-adult adoptees who describe the negative impacts of being raised by white families who simply don’t acknowledge or understand the experiences of their Black, Latina, Native American, Indigenuous, Asian or multi-racial child.
In light of the national protests currently going on, it can be deeply scary to consider the realities of your child growing up in a family who doesn’t have direct experience with being racially marginalized. There is a real need to place birth mothers and adult adoptees stories front and center in exploring how to create your own transracial adoption success story.
Address the “Colorblindness” Mentality
The biggest issue that adult transracial adoptees speak to again and again is the deep isolation and loneliness of being disconnected from their culture, while simultaneously being marginalized and ostracized based on their identity. Kendra Rosati, a South Korean adoptee with white parents, states, “All of my life, my parents have told me I’m just like my brother and sisters, but I wasn’t and I’m not.”2 While white adoptive families no doubt have the best intentions and love their children, this is not enough. It is crucial that white parents not see “all children as the same,” but, instead, be able to see that racial and cultural identities matter deeply.
In her article regarding racial identity and transracial adoption, JaeRan Kim Ph.D. describes, “As the only adoptee and person of color in my immediate and extended family, I was always assured my parents didn’t see color and loved me no matter what, and that was enough.” She goes on to outline the deep importance of shifting this attitude and to instead support transracial adoptees in developing their own racial and cultural identities and supporting their greater community in practical ways. There are many issues faced by POC in our world, and transracial adoptees don’t get the benefit of coming home to a family who understands the experiences they have based on those identities. In order to create a successful transracial adoption it is necessary to speak with prospective families regarding race and how they plan to address and honor your child’s racial and cultural identity.
Talking about Race with Adoptive Parents
As a birth mother choosing adoption, it is your prerogative to choose an adoptive family who is able to provide your child with the life you desire for them. You have a clear understanding of what it means to be a person of your background and deserve to feel comfortable knowing that your child’s adoptive family understands the importance of educating themselves on race. It is important to not hesitate in having the difficult conversations that you have a right to as the birth mother and person with the best understanding for what your child will go through based on their race.
Work with an Adoption Choices Colorado counselor to identify what topics are important to bring up. Ask prospective parents direct questions. What resources are they using to educate themselves about the topic of transracial adoption? Have they spoken to racially blended families and or others with transracial adoption success stories? Do they have an understanding of what conversations they need to have about racial and cultural identities and a plan to continue to address these as your child grows older? How are they involved in dismantling their own implicit biases and supporting antiracist and racial justice work in their communities already? If prospective adoptive parents’ responses to these important conversations concern you, don’t hesitate to look for others who will; your child will be grateful for you choosing to prioritize their long term wellbeing in this way.
While racial awareness and appreciation is necessary in creating a successful transracial adoption, this has to extend beyond celebrating Kwanzaa or attending an annual cultural festival. Adoptees need to have a sense of shared identity. Adoptive parents should choose diverse schools and neighborhoods, where their child will be able to have friends and mentors who look like them and can understand their experiences in a way that white adoptive parents will never be able to. Through choosing open adoption, you can be a part of this extended network supporting your child in what it means to be Black, Native American, Indigenous, Latina, Asian or multi-racial.
Another great way to support transracial adoptive children is through programs specifically created for transracial adoptees who have a unique experience of the world. There are camps and groups that open up a safe space for these conversations that can be deeply healing. When discussing a group processing space for transracial adoptees, Shereen Meraji says, “They are just so hungry for a place where there are other kids who are in the exact situation that they are in. And that, almost in and of itself, that is their identity, which I feel like we don’t talk about.2”
Transracial Adoption Success Story
As a birth mother, you have a deep desire to provide your child with the best life possible. While transracial adoption is quite common, it can also be very traumatic if done without deep thoughtfulness on behalf of adoptive parents. Alex Landau, the Racial Justice Organizer at the Colorado Progressive Coalition and the black son to a white adoptive family, reflects on his experience with police violence stating, “I know my mother wishes she could have had the insight herself to prepare me for the ugly realities that can occur…She demonstrates her sorrow and her eagerness to learn through her activism and her connection to the work I’m doing1.”
In order to create a successful transracial success story from the beginning, you can be intentional throughout your process in choosing a family that truly supports POC and has a desire to educate themselves as well as seek out a greater community to assist them in the necessary conversations regarding race with their adoptive child.
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to learn more about your adoption options, contact Adoption Choices of Colorado by email, phone, or text: Email Us, Call us: 720-371-1099, Call or Text us: 303-670-4673 (HOPE). If you are hoping to adopt, please contact us here.
Meet the Author: Kara Bringewatt is an English major and psychology minor at Queens University of Charlotte. She plans to get her masters in social work and work at a nonprofit as a case manager for at-risk youth. She loves using writing as a means of creating community and bringing attention to causes she’s passionate about.
Kara is particularly interested in educational and mental health interventions for young people in foster care. She’s worked as a tutor, professional caregiver, preschool teacher and acting instructor, and loves being able to utilize her wide range of passions to support young people and plans on being a foster and adoptive parent.