Matters Of Race; In Adoption And Foster Care

As we continue with National Adoption Awareness Month I want to talk about trans- racial adoption/foster care. I recently asked four people to share their feelings/thoughts on the subject of trans-racial adoption. Three of these folks have adopted or fostered children of a different race. This week I am going to share two of the four responses and the remaining two next week.

The first person I reached out to is bi-racial (black and white). She is a feminist who lives in Southern California and her honesty and concern about the topic of adoption and foster care is genuine.  She and her wife have fostered and adopted a child.

This is what she shared with me:

Would  you ever adopt a child of a different race? Why or why not?

I have adopted a child of a different race (she’s white and Japanese). I do believe, however, that if an adoptive parent is not willing to understand and immerse the child in their own culture, then they have no business adopting that child. For instance, if a white person adopts a black child, it is their responsibility to take them to a black salon/barber shop, let them learn about black historical figures, and to allow them black mentors.

Do you think trans-racial adoptions are a good or bad idea?

I believe that transnational adoptions should not be initiated unless every other resource has been exhausted. For instance, so many children are adopted from 3rd world countries. Instead of adopting them, our nation (a rich one), could be aiding that country in bettering their resources, like providing actual housing, clean water, and food. Instead, we swoop in on vulnerable nations and take their children away from their cultures of origin.

Do you know anyone who was adopted by someone of a different race. Do you feel as an outsider looking in that the child was made to feel as he/she was included .

I know a few black children who were adopted by white families. Some have been ripped from their cultures and others have been immersed in it by their adoptive parents.

In the area you live in do you see a lot of trans-racial adoptions ?

Yes! I live in Anaheim, California, which is predominantly Latinx. Many of the kids/adolescents in foster care are from the Latinx community, so often times we’ll see kids being adopted by parents outside of their own culture. I think this is great, as long as families are immersing the children in their culture of origin.

The next person I spoke with regarding race and adoption is a white woman who has three adopted children who are now grown. They are ages 23, 30, and 34 years old.  She was very open and honest in the responses she gave me.

Here is what she shared:

Would you ever adopt a child of a different race? Why or why not?

Yes.I have 3 kids of another race.

Do you think trans-racial adoptions are a good or bad idea good?

Good.

Do you know anyone who was adopted by someone of a different race. Do you feel as an outsider looking in that the child was made to feel as he/she  was included. 

My three were all adopted by a different race and I certainly hope they don’t feel like outsiders…although at times they may when outside of our family.

Do you think people who adopt a child of a different race are responsible to help teach that child about his/her own culture or race. 

Yes, absolutely.

In the area you live in do you see a lot of trans-racial adoptions?

Not a ton but it is becoming more prevalent. Ours are 23, 30 and 34 now. 

You said your kids appear as black. Just want to clarify are they black or a different race?

All 3 kids are bi-racial. My daughters both have white birth moms. My son’s birth mom was bi-racial.

Have any of your children expressed interest in adopting children. 

My oldest daughter has 2 bio boys and wants to adopt a little girl from Kenya (we are involved as a family in support for World Vision and she and I both visited Kenya a year ago).

When your kids were younger what did you do to help them connect to their culture. 

When my girls (now ages 34 and 30) were younger I took them to multicultural events, museums, adoption support groups. Our church is somewhat multiracial (Unfortunately our pastor who was black left recently for another ministry.)

I have to admit that I was not as intentional with our son (age 23). (We adopted him from foster care, and the girls at birth. Maybe I was more worn out by the way he came along!) We did send our oldest daughter to a very exclusive private school for jr. high that had a lot more kids of color than our home neighborhood. We sent our son to a charter school for high school, where white was very much the minority (it was primarily Hispanic and Black.)

I can tell you that both of these women love their children.  When I asked them to share just a little bit of information with me they did not hesitate. There is so much more to discuss when it comes to trans-racial adoptions and foster care. I will continue to write about it even after National Adoption Awareness Month. I know that not everyone feels that trans-racial adoption is the best idea. The reasons for and against it are worth discussing.

What I will tell you is that we have so many children who are in foster care awaiting adoption and those children are not so much concerned with the race of the person who may adopt them as they are with finding a forever home. With that being said there is a responsibility for foster and adoptive parents to ensure that if the children they bring into their home are of a different race that they (the adoptive parents or foster parents) are making the time and effort to find ways to teach the children about there culture.

Now I know some may say “Well at least they have been adopted”. That is entirely the wrong response. Even though there are many folks who will say the race of the child they will adopt is not an issue. The reality is that when you adopt a child of a different race there are some topics you must look at from the start:

How will your family react to this adoption? Yes, you are adopting but this child will also be around your family. Is your family accepting?

Have you looked into where you can find mentors for your child? These mentors can help you answer the questions about race that your child will bring up that you will not be able to answer.

Find a local group that of parents that are the adoptive child’s race and get tips and advice from them. You can find these groups online you don’t even have to leave your house.  

Do a google search for cultural events and take the adoptive child to these events.

Adoptive parents are doing a child a disservice when they are not doing these things.  Adopting a child that is a different race does not mean that you get to bypass teaching them about their culture.

Trans-racial adoptions can work, and they do work.  The conversation must continue and the concerns that some have can not be ignored. No matter what the forever homes these children find must filled with love and inclusivity.





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