Multiracial adoption, also known as transracial adoption or interracial adoption, is when parents adopt a child of a different race. Today, more than 40 percent of adoptions are multiracial in nature, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, up from just 28 percent in 2004. Still, despite the increased prevalence of multiracial adoption, there can be some added challenges when raising a child of another race.
Learn to Handle Rude Questions about Multiracial Adoption
It’s often impossible to avoid nosy, annoying, and even outright rude questions concerning adoption, especially when race is involved. Sometimes, even well-meaning individuals can be a bit too intrusive.
“American culture has long been obsessed with questions of race and identity,” says David French, The Atlantic. However, these questions and comments can quickly become difficult to hear.
“These negative messages are usually, but not always, unintentional,” says Julie Higginbotham, Adoptive Families. “People have an instinct for categorization; when they see situations that don’t fit the norm, they comment.”
It’s important to develop a plan of action to deal with these questions in a calm and respectful manner. This typically involves a two-phase approach:
1) Addressing your child
“Despite our best efforts, the incessant questions from strangers chip away at our foundations,” says Higginbotham. “At home, we’re telling our children that adoption is a special way of creating a family, and that their birth cultures are something to celebrate. Meanwhile, repeated encounters with people…send them a different message.”
So, when dealing with nosy or outright rude questions, it is important to first reassure your child that multiracial adoption is perfectly normal. Then, once you have addressed your child, you can respond.
2) Responding to the original question.
Remember to stay calm and be respectful. It’s sometimes easier said than done, but it is important to set a good example for your child, because “trust me, the kid is listening for your response,” explains Sharon Van Epps, ESME.
“I like to use a three choice process when asked about my own adoption story. It is called the TIP process: Tell, Ignore, say it is Private,” explains Dr. Dean Kirschner, Executive Director and Adoption Counselor at Adoption Makes Family. “I can choose to tell the story of my child’s adoption. I can ignore the person, or I can say it is private.”
- Tell: “Most people who adopt across ethnic boundaries love to talk about it, given appropriate circumstances,” says Higginbotham. In fact, when asked politely, many adoptive families have no issue discussing adoption open and honestly.
- Ignore: Remember, “you don’t owe strangers anything,” explains Van Epps.
- Private: “Families built by adoption are unashamed,” says adoption blogger Jill Robbins. “But we aren’t eager to hand out our children’s stories like a grandma hands out chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because those stories are not only private, but sacred.”
Learn to Celebrate Identity
“How do white adoptive parents help their children of color thrive?” writes Karen Valby, Time.
Transracial adoptees can sometimes struggle with this sense of identity when they don’t look like the rest of their family. This is why it is important to embrace your child’s race and cultural identity and celebrate it. After all, our race and our culture are important parts of our identity as both individuals and as a community.
It is important to celebrate your child’s heritage and teach them about their roots. While this can sometimes be difficult for adoptive parents who want nothing more than to just live a “normal” life, it can be incredibly emotionally enriching for your child.
Learn to Ask for Help
If you are struggling with any aspect of multiracial adoption, Adoption Makes Family is here to help. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency that aims to foster a genuine connection with you so you feel like you are part of our family. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.
- “Transracial Adoptees – Common Challenges & How to Cope.” Considering Adoption, https://consideringadoption.com/adopted/impact-of-adoption/transracial-adoptees.
- Valby, Karen. “The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Race.” Time, https://time.com/the-realities-of-raising-a-kid-of-a-different-race/.