Adoption is a wonderful, life-changing experience. Bringing home a baby brings families endless joy and love. When families bring home a baby of a different race than theirs, there must be two ongoing celebrations. In addition to enjoying your new bundle of joy, you will want to celebrate her heritage, as well.
No matter your race or your child’s race, you will feel the same love for your child that other parents feel—whether adoptive or biological. You will come to learn that family is defined by unconditional love, not by DNA. No matter how deeply you love your child, or how much you want to ignore your differences, however, it is ever important to acknowledge and honor your child’s race or ethnic group.
Some adoptive parents have made the mistake of saying that they “don’t see color,” because they love their child so deeply. They love their child’s soul and skin color has nothing to do with it. To those unfamiliar with racial topics like this, it can sound like a sweet point of view. However, this “color-blind” attitude can be quite harmful to a non-Caucasian child. Their race or ethnic group is a big part of their identity. To deny that part of them is to deny their life experience, potentially invalidating the prejudice they will face along the way.
With this in mind, how can you embrace your adopted child’s race or ethnic group? Read on, as we explore some of the best ways to accept this important piece of your child’s identity and honor it as you would your very own.
- Learn and Teach
Embracing your child’s race or ethnic background begins with research. Learn all you can about your child’s race, starting with the history of their people. Once you get an understanding of the history, you can begin to appreciate the cultural experience and life experiences of this group.
Once you have a handle on the history, it is time to move on to the current day. If your child’s birth parents are Korean, for example, learn about South Korea today. Learn about its international affairs, strong business trades, pop stars, traditional meals – whatever you can! Familiarize yourself with the Korean language so that you can someday teach your child all about their native country and language.
If your child’s birth parents are Black, learn everything you can about the Black experience in America. Read books about racism and learn about historical Black American figures who have made important contributions to the country. The more information you can pass along to your child, the more empowered they will be – and the more supported they will feel.
Additionally, take time to learn about the current experiences and challenges faced by people of color, and particularly of your child’s race. Talking to others about this can help you prepare your child for any challenges they may encounter down the road.
- Cultivate the Cultural Environment at Home
Once you have done your research, be sure to incorporate elements of your child’s ethnic background into your home. If your child’s birth parents are Mexican, for example, you will want to have representation of the Mexican culture within your home. Display Mayan artifacts in the living room as a nod to the history of Mexico or find authentic pottery to display that was made in the country. Be sure to avoid cliché décor that perpetuates racist stereotypes.
Part of this cultural environment inside your home includes entertainment. Be sure to play movies, TV shows, and music that are a part of your child’s ethnic background. Making the culture a part of your family’s home will promote having pride in this race or ethnic group, which will, in turn, help boost your child’s self-esteem and self-identity.
- Reach Out to the Community
You have the home set. You are well educated and share your wisdom with your child. Now, it is time to reach out to the community for some help. It is important that your child has positive role models in his life, particularly those who share the same race or ethnic background.
As the old African proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Raising a child of a different race can present its own unique challenges. It helps to have a supportive group of people who are close to topics like racial injustice, and who can provide you with advice as you raise a child of a different race than your own. For example, you may need to learn about proper hair care and skincare for your child. Someone who looks like your child, from the same background, may be able to provide you with advice.
Surrounding your child with those in the same racial background will further boost your child’s sense of identity. Placing your child of color in an all-white school, in an all-white neighborhood, on the other hand, can make your child feel out of place. Do the right thing and make sure your child feels a strong sense of belonging. In addition to your profound love, your child will feel accepted – and not just by their family, but by their village, as well.
If you would like to learn even more about transracial adoption, reach out to Adoptions With Love for support and guidance. Call us any time at 800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 617-777-0072, or contact us online. You can also read our free eBook: A Guide to Transracial Adoption – simply download via the link below!