An Introduction to Transracial Adoption
As a pregnant woman pursuing adoption, you have many critical decisions ahead of you. One of those decisions is choosing an adoptive family to raise the child you carry. In your search for that adoptive family who will be the right fit, you may come across a diverse range of prospective adoptive families: young couples, older couples, single people, LGBT individuals, childless families and so on. Among some of these families are couples and individuals who have a racial background that is different from yours. If you select such a family, you will be pursuing a transracial adoption.
Transracial adoption leads to the creation of many wonderful families each year. If you are a birth mother considering transracial adoption, Adoption Choices of Kansas wants you to feel prepared and confident about your decision. That’s why we put together this brief introduction to transracial adoption as a starting point for you to better understand this amazing option.
Prevalence of Transracial Adoption
As the idea of transracial adoption gained more acceptance over time, it has become more common. In 2007, 40 percent of all adopted children in the United States were in a transracial adoption. In more recent years, it has been reported that up to 73 percent of adoptees who are not white were adopted by white parents. Studies consistently indicate that over 75 percent of children in a transracial adoption thrive with their adoptive families. In addition to evolving views on transracial families, the positive outcomes often seen in transracial adoption may contribute to its increasing prevalence.
Benefits of Transracial Adoption
By being open to transracial adoption, you have a wider selection of wonderful families to choose from since you aren’t using race as a limiting factor. This openness may even lead you to find the adoptive family that you want to raise the child you carry. The creation of family through transracial adoption is a testament to the fact that family is formed by love and not necessarily by blood.
Transracial adoption can also provide a great opportunity for you, the child, and the adoptive family to be exposed to a different culture. By educating the adoptive parent(s) about your heritage, you put them in a better position to pass that knowledge and history down to their child. If you are in an open or semi-open adoption, you might even be able to directly pass that knowledge down yourself. As the child learns to embrace the cultures of both their birth family and adoptive family, he or she will also learn the importance of openness, inclusion, and pride in his or her heritage at an early age.
At a community and even societal level, the increased prevalence of transracial adoption lends itself toward increasing the visibility of racially mixed families. In a time when racial tensions are on the rise, mixed families are examples of racial harmony. If society is going to move away from racial division and toward unity, the normalization of racial harmony needs to start in the home and through common daily interactions. Families created through transracial adoption are a means to achieving this just by going about their daily lives as a regular, loving family.
Potential Challenges to Overcome in a Transracial Adoption
Despite the benefits that can come with transracial adoption, it’s important to acknowledge that it may also present some unique challenges that you and the adoptive family need to prepare for. While having a different background from one’s family can result in many learning and growing opportunities, it can also be a source of insecurity for a child if it’s not handled appropriately. For example, an adoptee might inquire as to why they look different from the rest of their family when many of their peers resemble their families. Some parents may answer them saying that they are no different from other families without addressing the child’s very real observation. An unintended outcome of this is that the child can feel more isolated than they would have if their adoptive family provided an honest and thoughtful answer. It can add to the child’s frustration when questioned by peers about their appearance when they do not have an understanding of what makes them different and why.
Additionally, while transracial adoption is far more accepted today than it was in the past, lingering negative attitudes can still exist and manifest in different ways. Families created through transracial adoptions may face issues ranging from unsupportive family members to assumptions that their child “isn’t really their child.” Even small things like inconsiderate questions or uncomfortable stares can add up over time. Additionally, the child may feel in the dark about their heritage if their adoptive parents are unaware or uncaring enough to pass that knowledge down in the best way they can.
The Importance of Communication in a Transracial Adoption
While these are legitimate things to be concerned about, they don’t have to deter you from pursuing transracial adoption as a birth mother. If you have selected an adoptive family whose race differs from their new child, it’s a good idea for you to discuss these issues with them as you get to know them. If they truly care about the child’s best interests, they will take your concerns seriously. In fact, there’s a good chance they will have many of these concerns themselves and would like your input to better prepare themselves to be the best parents they can be.
Together, you and the adoptive family can brainstorm ways to address these issues if and when they come up. Perhaps suggest that they join a support program for transracial families so they have resources to rely on if they ever feel stuck and uncertain despite their best efforts. When you work with the adoptive family to prepare for both the joys and sorrows of adoption, you can feel more confident in your choice to place the child you carry with the family you have selected.
Considering Transracial Adoption in Kansas
While it’s important to weigh all the potential advantages and disadvantages of transracial adoption, it can be very rewarding for all those involved when it’s handled with care and empathy. If you are a birth mother in Kansas, and this introduction to transracial adoption has sparked your interest in exploring this option in more depth, Adoption Choices of Kansas can provide you with the resources and support you need to make the best decision for you and the child you carry.
Meet the Author: Mary DeStefano is an Ohio native currently living in northern Virginia and works in the litigation consulting industry where she has experience in antitrust, product liability, and mass torts matters. She holds a B.A. in Economics (‘15) and an M.A. in Applied Economics (‘16) from the University of Cincinnati.
Mary finds great meaning in wielding the written word to develop impactful narratives and to help people stay informed. In her spare time, Mary can be found beachcombing and going on other adventures with her dog along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. She also has an affinity for antiquing and loves a good 80’s movie marathon.