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Transracial Adoption: White Parents Raising Black Children (Part Two)

Young black girl playing on the beach.In Part One of this two-part blog series, we detailed advice for white parents raising black children as the result of a transracial adoption. We discussed concepts such as Having “The Talk,” Asking for Help, Celebrate Identity, and Responding to Rude Questions. In this blog, we are going to explore the topic even further.

Today, more than 40 percent of adoptions are transracial in nature – meaning there are lots of parents out there raising children that do not look like them. And while this is a beautiful way to start or grow a family, it also brings several challenges.

“Yes, raising a child of a different race, especially raising a black child in America, will bring with it a host of considerations and possible challenges,” writes Julianna Mendelsohn, Scary Mommy. So, we’ve compiled a few more helpful tips to help you along your parenting journey.

Transracial Adoption: More Advice for White Parents Raising Black Children – Continuing “The Talk”

This blog is going to primarily focus on continuing “The Talk” that we mentioned in part one of our blog series.

Addressing Race & Racism

There tends to be this misconception by white parents raising black children that talking about race creates an issue. In fact, the opposite is actually true. Not talking about race is a much bigger issue. The idea of raising a colorblind child in America is an outdated concept. We should, in reality, be discussing and celebrating race. However, it is a difficult conversation for many white parents to have.

“Many adoptive parents, including me, feel tremendous anxiety around introducing concepts of racism to their children,” writes Karen Valby, Time. However, if you are raising a black child, you need to prepare them for the harsh realities of the real world. 

“May I please nuclear bomb that for you?” writes Korean adoptee Mark Hagland, co-moderator of a Transracial Adoption Facebook group. “It’s inevitable that your black children will be called the N word. It’s inevitable that they will be othered for being black. So if you prepare them for that you are helping them.”

Start the conversation early in an age-appropriate way, and be sure to continue that conversation and allow it to grow along with your child.

“Preschoolers experience prejudice,” says Patsy Hathaway, a white mother raising a black son. “So you teach younger children the best you can [about racism], in simple language. Lessons can become more elaborate as kids mature.”

How to Stay Safe

Life for a black child growing up in America is just different than life for a white child. 

“I figured I’d have to explain some name-calling, have hard talks about language, navigate the waters when somebody’s parent won’t let my son take their daughter to prom,” says Robyn Wells, a white mother raising a black son. “But what I have been surprised by is this: At no point in the process of considering transracial adoption did I think I would have to teach my son how to stay alive.”

As illustrated by Chad Goller-Sojourner, Adoptive Families in part one of our blog series, a great example of this is how we interact with police officers. “A Black child observing his or her Black parent navigate an interaction with a police officer—after being pulled over for speeding, for example—will see something very different than a Black child observing their white parent in the same situation,” explains Goller-Sojourner. So, it is incredibly important to teach your child these harsh realities early. That the way mommy or daddy act during a traffic stop, or a random encounter with a police officer, is not the way they will need to behave.

“Parents who believe they can raise their child color-blind are making a terrible mistake,” says Hagland. The world will see your child’s race, so it is important to prepare them for what that means. 

Discuss History

It is important to teach your child about the history of racism and the brave men and women who have worked tirelessly to improve race relations.

    1. Universalize Racism: Racism is not just an issue for blacks. ”The Jewish experience, the struggle that Hispanics face,” says Hathaway. “It’s not just blacks who have suffered; it’s a problem of how people treat each other. You don’t want children to feel that it’s just their race, or who they are.”
    2. Civil Rights Movement: “Talk about the movement, the wonderful civil rights leaders and how they made a difference,” says Hathaway. “Introduce people your children can identify with and want to emulate.”

Transracial Adoption Questions?

If you are struggling with any aspect of transracial adoption, Adoption Makes Family is here to help. 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

Adoption Makes Family is 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. We are here to help you every step of the way.

If you have any questions about transracial adoption, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Sources

  1. Goller-Sojourner, Chad. “’The Talk’: Discussing Race and the Police with Black Children.” Adoptive Families, 12 June 2020, www.adoptivefamilies.com/transracial-adoption/talking-with-black-children-about-police-racism-safety/.
  2. Mendelsohn, Julianna. “I Don’t Owe You Any Explanation For My Transracial Family.” Scary Mommy, 29 May 2017, www.scarymommy.com/transracial-adoption-questions/.
  3. “Transracial Adoptees – Common Challenges & How to Cope.” Considering Adoption, https://consideringadoption.com/adopted/impact-of-adoption/transracial-adoptees.
  4. 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/.
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