When a family adopts a child that is a different race than their own, it is considered a trans-racial adoption. Currently, we are seeing this in the adoption of African American children by Caucasian families, through both domestic and international adoptions. Not only is this a trend in Christian homes, but high-profile celebrity adoptions are also setting examples. Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, and Katherine Heigl have all recently adopted children with an ethnic heritage different than their own.
While you may be completely prepared for this, you will need to ensure that your family is prepared, as well. Ted and Amanda were open to a child of any race and were chosen by an African American birth mother to adopt her baby. Brought up in Christian homes, they never imagined that their families would have anything but love for their baby. Imagine their surprise when an uncle and a cousin both made racial slurs about their baby at the family gathering designed to welcome the baby home!
Have these family conversations well in advance. You don’t need to change your plans based solely on your family’s approval, but you should be aware of their view. It may be an opportunity to pray for God’s change in their hearts.
Similarly, you should evaluate if you have resources in your city or county to expose a child to their heritage and others that share their ethnicity. It may seem odd when they are quite young, but when they begin to ask questions about why they look different than you, it will help you explain if you also have places to go and things to share to support your child as he grows up confident as the individual he is and as part of your family.
Your adoption home study provider may require or recommend classes for families open to adopting outside of their race. You should actively participate and ask questions so you will be prepared later. Seek out programs or support groups for families built through trans-racial adoption. If these are not available in your area, consider attending a church with diversity and programs available to support your child’s need for identity and belonging.
Here are a few important questions to ask yourself if you are considering trans-racial adoption:
- How will you help your child be comfortable growing up in your hometown?
- Do you already know people of diversity or who may share the same race as your child? Will you need to make new connections to expand your social circle for your child and family’s well-being?
- Do you know of support or play groups for trans-racial families created through adoption? If not, would you be comfortable starting one?
- Does your neighborhood or city hold cultural celebrations? Attend, introduce yourself, and get involved.
- What are ways you’ll honor, respect, and celebrate your child’s difference within your family? Books, dolls, play groups, and other avenues are available to help a child identify with and embrace their unique racial differences in a positive way.
This information was excerpted from our Founder Mardie Caldwell’s book, Called to Adoption. Do you have questions about how we can help you adopt? Just send us an email or give us a call at 1-877-383-6847.