If you are considering adopting a child who is from a different race than yours, the very first step is to consider your racial bias. Ask yourself these questions: “Why is it important to me to adopt from a different race?” “Am I equipped to raise a child from another race?” “Do I have any subconscious biases?” This last question is important, and it’s what we’d like to discuss today. An subconscious bias is a preconceived opinion you have about another group of people that you may not be aware you have. Although you may consider yourself an open, accepting individual with no racial biases, scientists have shown that all of us have at least some “mental residue”. This “mental residue” consists of biases that still live within us, even though we thought that they were extinguished. Overcoming racial bias requires a lot of constant, concentrated effort. To begin addressing your “mental residue”, let’s first identify some types of biases.
- Stereotype: A stereotype is an exaggerated belief, image, or distorted truth about a person or group. This is when you make a general statement about an entire race of people. They are based on what we learn from the media and our community.
- Prejudice: A prejudice is when you’ve already formed an opinion about a group of people before you’ve interacted with them. Prejudices are often fueled by ignorance, hate, and fear. So, this is when you are scared of “outsiders” to your group or community. Because you don’t know them or others in your community have convinced you to believe certain things about them, the “outsiders” may seem scary or otherwise bad to you.
- Discrimination: This is when we treat people differently because of what race they’re from. This can include the decision to hire someone, to portray someone in art, and even to adopt someone.
Now that we know the definitions of stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination, we can look inside ourselves to determine if we are ever subject to these types of thinking. Because these types of thinking often develop in communities with little diversity, it’s important to make sure we are exposed to different racial cultures. Being a part of various different cultural activities and communities will help you to better understand people from races that are different from your own. In this way, you can separate yourself from the comfort zone of your own group and learn to be more inclusive of people from other groups.
If you’re interested in learning about your subconscious bias, you can take the Hidden Bias Test developed by Project Implicit, a project designed by team of psychologists from Harvard, the University of Virginia, and the University of Washington to learn about subconscious biases.
This is a series of blogs that will address race and adoption. Come back and visit and read more about race and adoption in our series.
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