Our Adoption ProSquad expert, Judy Miller, passes on valuable information about adopting children from another culture.
Thinking about parenting transracially? People considering the adoption a child of a race, ethnicity or culture of origin different than theirs should understand that adopting and parenting a child of a different race comes with unique challenges.
The majority of parents who adopt transracially are typically white, roughly 73%. Race can become an issue for the transracially-adopted child, as it is part of their identity but not the parents who adopted him or her. Adopting parents must come to understand and appreciate the importance of racial and ethnic identity and how it develops throughout a person's lifetime. Parents should be prepared to teach their child about their ethnicity and race. They can do this by reading, watching films, and exposing their child and themselves to and fostering genuine relationships with others who are of the same race, ethnicity, and/or cultural origin.
Preparing to Adopt a Child From Another Culture
It is recommended that parents expand their "world" beyond the races and ethnicities of themselves and their children, for example celebrating all cultures, living in a multicultural neighborhood, or attending a school with a diverse population. Parents should examine and address their own biases (we all have them) surrounding race and ethnicity, and this isn't comfortable for most of us. Parents also need to realize what racism is, what drives it, and learn how to openly talk about race within their family, confront racism openly, and "arm" their child(ren).
Only in understanding racism can parents gain the needed confidence to address and develop strategies for dealing with it and help their kids to do the same. By understanding the concept of white privilege, parents can recognize how it functions in society, and how it impacts their beliefs and attitudes, and how it can affect their children. This preparation and ongoing education will help to grow empathy and assist parents with many of the unique challenges of parenting a child of a different race.
Adoption Pro, Judy Miller
Judy M. Miller, MA, CGE is the author of the internationally selling What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween. An adoptive parent and adoption advocate, she lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She works with clients all over the world, providing education for and support to families created or grown through adoption.
Judy is a frequent guest on radio (MomTV's Adoption Angels, TogiNet's Adoption ~ Journey to Motherhood, Creating a Family, and PowerTalk on Tough Talk Radio) and sought after conference speaker and workshop facilitator (Parenting Summit, Symposium 2011 Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities, and Challenges, Crossroads of America Adoption Conference, North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), and American Adoption Conference (AAC)).
Judy's essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in anthologies, among them, A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).
Judy is a member of the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), the American Adoption Congress (AAC), and the National Association of Professional Women, who elected her as one of their 2012 women of the year. You can follow her @MamaMiller.