how to decide on which race to adopt? — The Bump
Adoption

how to decide on which race to adopt?

My husband and I are filling out our application to adopt and the whole question on what races we're open to is throwing us off.

I feel like I shouldn't be against any race and opt not to adopt a baby because of the way they look.  I am truly open to any race and would be estatic with any baby that we get.  However my husband feels that a caucasian child or a mixed race baby is what he'd be open to.  He says it'd just be "easier" on the child and he'd be more open to it.  ( we live in an area with mostly white people)  He doesn't want our child to stick out and for it to be obvious that we adopted.  I want to respect his feelings but also open his mind to other things and help him to understand that once he held that baby he'd no longer see the color of their skin.  It's just so hard because I want us both to be happy with our decisions on this but I just don't see how we can exclude children because of their race? 

How did you guys decide on what to be open to and do you have any tips on things I can show to him to help educate him on the subject? 

Also I hope I didn't offend anyone with this post, I am in no way racist, and hope no one takes it that way.  I am just stumped and looking for help.  Thanks!

Re: how to decide on which race to adopt?

  • Sounds like you're in a very similar situation I was in.  I wanted to be open to any baby, but DH had some reservations..and I did a little as well because his extended family is pretty racist and I never wanted our child to be judged or even if his family accepted this baby, I'm sure he/she would be exposed to comments/discussions that would be very hurtful..  We decided to just focus on what we were most comfortable with and matched very quickly; however, if we would have been waiting a long time, I think we would have opened up our search and just dealt with the family issues as they came.  It's a tough choice and I understand how you feel..but you both have to be on board with this decision.  Good luck!
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  • It's a very complex, personal decision. And it's one only you can make.

    There are some people who don't believe they should exclude any race, and should rather work within their families and communities to make it less of an issue for those around them. On the other hand, there are some people who live in communities with little/no diversity, and/or have family members with racial/ethnic bias. They feel that it would be easier for themselves and for their children to not have to subject them to the attitudes that their families and communities may have.

    FWIW, I don't think being color-blind is the answer (re: your comment about your DH not seeing the color of his child's skin). We need to be aware of the differences in people as well as their similarities, and deal with the people who may have prejudices against them.

    We were very limited in the races/ethnic backgrounds we were open to. Mostly because of family, and the fact that we were living in a community with very little diversity. We would have had little opportunity to expose a child to their culture. And we had a somewhat unwritten rule that the person with the most hesitancy about things in our profile took precedence. This went for all sorts of things, from prematurity to drug exposure to race.

    As far as your DH, maybe have him talk to some people who adopted outside of their race/culture and have them address his concerns so he can weigh his options..

    GL

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  • Just a note regarding this--- our agency's policy is that you cannot be opened to mixed race children unless you are also open to black children only. The rationale there is that even if your child is of a mixed race, there is no guarantee that the mix of white and african american will make for a light skinned baby. And the underlying assumption is that if you are only willing to accept a mixed race child and not a black child that there is some level of an issue for the adoptive parents around having a non-white child.

     

    M

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  • [quote user="Dr.Loretta"]

    It's a very complex, personal decision. And it's one only you can make.

    There are some people who don't believe they should exclude any race, and should rather work within their families and communities to make it less of an issue for those around them. On the other hand, there are some people who live in communities with little/no diversity, and/or have family members with racial/ethnic bias. They feel that it would be easier for themselves and for their children to not have to subject them to the attitudes that their families and communities may have.

    FWIW, I don't think being color-blind is the answer (re: your comment about your DH not seeing the color of his child's skin). We need to be aware of the differences in people as well as their similarities, and deal with the people who may have prejudices against them.

    [/quote]

    I agree with all this, especially the part about being prepared to help your child deal with the differences in how races are preceived and any possible racism they may encounter throughout life.  My husband and I are (for all intents and purposes) white, and we adopted two Latin American boys.  They are still young, 9 and 6, but we have already started preparing the way for more intense conversations about race.  We acknowledge differences in skin color, talk about how people often live in communities with others of the same skin shades, and talk about how they can do anything they want in life, provided they work towards it.  We talk about freedom and about how people don't always get all the choices, but how we are lucky to have many opportunities.  With time, we'll talk more about how people perceive skin tone and what that may mean for them, and how they can present themselves and advocate for themselves so that they will face as few hindrances as possible.

    There are a lot of people who believe that you should never adopt interracially, because you can't truly know what it's like to live as a minority race if you aren't one and so you can't teach your child about his heritage or racism with any accuracy.  There are also thoughts that it's not fair to adopt a child that looks so different from you that their adoption is always out in the open, as some children prefer to be more private about that information.  I, personally, disagree with these thoughts, because I know my boys are much better off with us than aging out of an orphanage, which is likely the fate they would have otherwise had, given that there aren't enough Latin American/Hispanic adopters.

    But, as Dr. L. said, this ultimately is a question that only you can answer for your family.  It is an extra commitment to adopt interacially, one that you cannot leave unaddressed throughout your child's life.  Is it one that you and your husband will both willingly take on? One thing that my husband and I decided while in process was that we'd never do anything that we weren't both completely comfortable with.  It was our way of ensuring that we wouldn't breed resentment if challenges arose down the line.


  • We did international adoption so it was a bit different (deciding what country vs. what race), but we did read a lot about what it would mean to become a transracial family and your husband does have valid concerns. The comment that once you hold you baby you "won't see the color of their skin" is sort of both true and untrue.

    It's true b/c you won't look at your baby as "a white baby" or "a black baby"- you will just see YOUR baby. 

    But it is not true that the color of their skin won't be an issue in your life. If you adopt trans-racially (or internationally like we did), you are making the decision to open your family life up to a new culture. You will have to make purposeful efforts to diversify not just your child's life, but your whole family's life. And you will need to prepare yourself to face racist remarks and experiences as your child ages. 

    When DH and I looked at domestic adoption we would have made the same decision as you, being open to any race. For us, the chance to diversify our family was very exciting and we both felt like we would be able to face the challenges of being a trans-racial family.

    In summary, I would suggest you do some reading about trans-racial adoptions and have a really honest discussion with your DH about what kind of family you want to build. In the end both you and DH have to be on board to whatever you decide.  All the best!

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  • PPs are all making valid suggestions. I think it is important to take your surroundings into account. It's kind of amazing that a lot of us, as white people, have either literally never been in the minority of a group, or have had that happen once or twice in our lives. That is something to think about with your community; there are also things you may or may not want to "tackle" as a family; as PPs have said, transracial adoption involves more because you do have an extra level of education for yourselves and another aspect of your child's adoption to talk about with him/her.

    I do believe "race relations" are getting better, but I still don't believe it won't be an issue for my children. Children are naturally prone to notice differences as they seek to put their world into an understandable order; even though you won't look at your child and see "black," his/her classmates will.

    I totally understand the feeling of "I don't want to say no to a child because of the color of their skin!" But it's about more than how you and our H feel about different skin tones, you know? It's good to be realistic about what you're willing to take on for the rest of your lives.

    KWIM? Obviously, this is something DH and I are still excited about, since we're adopting from Africa, but we live in a college town with schools more diverse than many places, and our particular neighborhood has a number of black families, so our kiddos won't be the only black kids on the block.

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  • Adoption has always been in the back of my mind, even before the realm of marriage, TTC or IF, and so I have had a lot of time to consider it. I grew up in a more lower-income area of town, and attended school in the most diverse community in our state. DH on the other hand attended a private school with very little diversity until high school, and was kinda reserved about adopting out of our race. After several conversations, we realized it was more that he didn't know what he may come up against and how best to handle situations where our child's race might come up. All the classes we have taken with our agency have helped a lot, and he really is open to a child of any race now.

    The one concern we SORTA still have is the fact that we live in a state with several native american reservations, and our agency did tell us that most of the babies place with them just happen to be Native American...and no big deal for us...but my grandparents grew up in a time (and in this place) where making comments they feel are harmless, but are actually offensive, is completely normal. I have my arsenal of what to discuss with them in the event that we are placed with a Native American baby, but I figured I will cross that bridge when I get to it, seeing as I may not have to have that talk, and even if I do, it will be a while before our child will hear and remember some of the stupid things my grandparents will say.

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  • thanks so much for the great responses, they are so helpful! I really appreciate it! I will have to talk to DH and we'll figure things out!  Thanks again!
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