Transracial adoption? — The Bump

Transracial adoption?

Our agencies have suggested broadening our scope, since we have not been matched for almost a year. We're not willing to budge on the health stuff, so they have suggested considering a bi-racial baby instead of a Caucasian baby. We originally said no to that because that type of adoption seems to come with its own set of issues - cultural, etc. However, we feel like this could be the one area within DIA where we could compromise successfully. 

Has anyone had any experience with transracial adoption? Thoughts? Advice? Books to read? Reassurance that it is not as hard to parent a child of a different or partially different race?  

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Re: Transracial adoption?

  • I do not have personal experience, but we were open to all races and ethnicities.

    we have friends who adopted a biracial baby (unbeknownst to them until birth - they knew the BM, who told them she was going to be Caucasian), then two years later have adopted a a full AA daughter. I think the only thing she's really been frustrated with is learning how to do their hair.

    I became a mother because of adoption. She is the absolute love of my life. Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker formerly known as sw_in_kc
  • DS that we just adopted is biracial. While it has only been 7 weeks, I can honestly say that for me there have been no issues. I know as he gets older we will have to deal with bigger things like you said with culture but otherwise he is just 100% our child no matter what he looks like. I have actually really enjoyed that because it is obvious he is adopted,more people talk to us about adoption and I am able to disspell many of the myths that surround adoption to those people. 

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  • we adopted DS from Korea- so he's Asian, and we're white. He is 2 years old, and we adopted him 4 months ago.

      so far, we haven't had any issues with it. he honeslty couldn't be any more "our" kid- personality-wise and fits right in! Our families and friends have accepted him right in as well. (This might not be the case for every family, so its something to think about. In my family I have a full AA step-cousin, a biracial cousin, and a Latino aunt. One of DHs best friends is Asian, too... so we knew it wouldn't be a problem in our case.) We also live in a pretty diverse area ( in NJ, not far from NYC- so that helps to

    I'm sure we'll have some issues that come up as he gets older... but we feel ready to deal with those as they come up.

      I also like what somebody else said about it making the adoption more obvious and opening up some conversations with people. its kind of fun! So far, I've been approached by an adoptive dad in Target, the cashier at Target also asked if DS was adopted and told me she was, too. We've had a few other conversations with people in line at Starbucks, etc... so its really neat to be able to share a positive adoption story with people, especially since sometimes it seems like all you hear are the negative ones.


  • image lafayettegirl:

    so they have suggested considering a bi-racial baby instead of a Caucasian baby. We originally said no to that because that type of adoption seems to come with its own set of issues - cultural, etc. However, we feel like this could be the one area within DIA where we could compromise successfully. 

    There's a lot to consider--- and I'd honestly start  by looking at what was at the root of your own decision to only seek a Caucasian child first- what was the set of issues it brought with it? Was it too complicated for your extended families? Too complicated for society in general? Or is there something closer to home that makes you and your husband hesitant about adopting a child of another race? 

    I think that to consider a bi-racial child because there is a chance that he or she might be lighter in skin tone than a child who is fully African American is a bit problematic--- my agency doesn't allow AP to choose bi-racial children unless the AP's are also willing to select fully African American children as well. The philosophy there is that if you aren't actually willing to adopt an African-American child you likely shouldn't adopt a bi-racial child because you will not be comfortable providing that child with cultural experiences appropriate to their heritage. Furthermore, if you are pursuing an open adoption, birth mother's don't live in  vacuums  you may be opening yourself to their families of origin which may included people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. If that level of diversity is uncomfortable for you, or your husband, or extended family members, it could be troublesome.

     Race is really hard still in the US, and we generally all pretend that we are "color-blind" but we're not. And race will continue to be an issue. I'm certain that it's challenging in many ways to parent a child of a different race or a partially different race, and that those challenges might be slightly different than parenting a child of the same race. However, lots of the challenges of parenting are the same for all parents- regardless of race- kids are tough little nuggets and raising them is hard work.

    I recently read Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption by Laura Briggs. It was a tough read- it tracks a relatively long history of adoption, of middle class white people trying to "save babies" and of the consistent and relatively routine marginalization of working class, African American and Latino women in the United States, and how policies around adoption and foster care serve to continue that marginalization. It also offers a fairly intense historical perspective on adoption from Latin America. It's a good, and very eye opening read.

    NPR ran a story on parenting in transracial adoptions a few years ago, you can find it  here:

    When all is said and done, it's a really personal decision... good luck!



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  • I really like Mary's posts.

    My first response to your post--- if it feels like a compromise, back away.  At no point should you compromise simply to get to your intended child sooner.

    Assuming you didn't mean that you see it as a compromise but rather a change in how you view things---

    Our oldest daughter is Korean-American (via DIA).  I don't have any parenting experience that doesn't involve transracial parenting.  

    What I can say is that when your child doesn't look like you, it means your life story is quite evident.  It is apparent that my daughter is not biologically related to me and it can open up conversations when I might not feel like talking adoption.

    Because of this, it has turned me into someone that views adoption as something I am ready and anxious to talk about.  I feel a responsibility to the adoption community to be well informed and able to intelligently discuss adoption.  

    Would I have been like this if my daughter was not Korean-American?  I am not sure.

    I will say when I take DD2 with me and DD1 is with my husband, no one asks anything about adoption or our story.  She is fair and Caucasian and looks like she's a bio daughter.  

    Adoption came to us as a way of having a family.  I am a cancer survivor.  So the infertility/ability to carry a child is mine issue not my husband's issue so I was very considerate of how he felt about adoption as we proceeded.  He was initially concerned about having strangers ask us questions... but I can say that he is like me and can't wait to talk adoption if someone asks.  In fact he does a little presentation (his story) to the senior kids at his high school each year. It's a private HS that preaches abstinence.  He loves giving them a glimpse into a choice other abortion.  Clearly, DH has embraced the idea that we are an adoptive family.


    image Best friends and sisters... 24 months and 16 months
  • Another thought...

    We started out with a pretty narrow scope for being open to transracial children.  
    1/4 this, 1/2 that... but then we had a situation presented to us.  It was a "Caucasian/Hispanic" situation.  The child would have been 1/4 Italian, 1/4 Greek, and 1/2 Puerto Rican.  My husband and I started to think about the "Caucasian" part of the equation.  An Italian/Greek child likely would have had dark hair, dark eyes, perhaps curly hair... and not looked a thing like us.  There's no way the typical Italian or Greek would pass off as my bio child. At that point we really started to delve into what was important to us... and I am so glad we did.


    image Best friends and sisters... 24 months and 16 months
  • Last comment:

    Transracial adoption isn't for everyone... and that's okay.  Be true to what feels right in your family and what you are willing to take on.  Think long term-- teen age years, high schools, communities, family... are you willing and open to the difficulties that could be part of your life?  I have no doubt you and DH would fall in love with the child but it likely will change your life.  Are you interested in incorporating diffirent cultures into your holidays and home life?  Are you open to a child who says "mommy I want my skin to look like yours?".  

    I recommend reading blog posts from moms to hear real life stories to see if you think this would mesh well in your life.  Rage Against the Minivan is a positive blogger that talks transracial adoption sometimes.



    PS-  Where are you located?  I do know a lawyer in the south that does mostly private and closed Caucasian adoptions.  It can be pricey... 35K.  Let me know if you want to chat. 

    image Best friends and sisters... 24 months and 16 months
  • We have not started our official journey yet, but we have already made the decision for ourselves on what we would like to be open to.  I am going to give you my personal experience, because I am adopted myself.  My life was a lot easier for me, because I look just like my family.  For many reasons, it made growing up "different" a little easier on me.  

    I think my DH and I would have come to same conclusion we did, even without my own personal experience, due to some other issues in our situation.  But I wanted to share the "other" side for you.

    Most importantly, make your decision for your family and don't apologize for it.  I have had a few people give me a side eye.  But to be honest, they didn't grow up being adopted, so they don't get to judge my opinions.  You will know what exactly is right for you and your family, and whatever choice that is, that is the right one.  GL! 

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  • Now I'm sure it depends on the situation, but I'm CERTAIN it can turn out great. No matter what you think of Obama's politics he did just fine being raised by a white mom. He's a happy parent with a good job contributing to society the best he can and that's as much as any parent can hope for. I work with a black woman raised by a white family and she is very happy, and happy for us to have adopted TR or otherwise.

    We were theoretically open to transracial adoption but when our first potential TR match came up, we were very anxious with many of the same concerns you have.  Still, we want to be the kind of parents who appreciate diversity and we went forward despite our fears. Working through all of those emotions has definitely made me a better person.

    One thing I didn't like about my childhood is my parents loved me, but didn't always see me for  who I was.  I came to feel that my daughter's skin color would be a constant reminder that she was her own person, not a mini me. I felt it would help me remember to respect her for her differences and allow me to help her be the best person she could be. When that match ultimately didn't work out we were very disappointed. 

    We ended up matching with a Latina/AA girl and we are Caucasian. It has been a gift to watch my family grow to love her just as much as we do! My mother especially who has had some racist assumptions historically through ignorance more than anything else. Now, this is my family mind you.  My parents are basically good people who would never have wanted to be thought of as racist.  I'm sure it's a totally different situation if you live in a family or community that is openly and unapologetically racist. It could still be worth it, but it will be much more difficult. We also live in the southwest US so our local culture is in large part hispanic.  We will have to work harder to expose our child to AA culture. 

    Best wishes!


  • I am an African American who has just adopted two Hispanic newborns.  Initially my husband and I only wanted to adopt children of African American heritage. When we got the call that two newborn boys needed a home we were overjoyed. Then the caseworker let it be known that they were Hispanic and if that was okay with us.  We told her we needed time to think about it.  At the end of the day for us was it came down to whether or not we thought we could provide them with a loving home, which had nothing to do with the color of their skin or ours.  So we went to go visit them in the hospital and fell in love with this two angels.   I know we will have to deal with questions about the color of our skin and theirs. Any person looking to adopt a child knows they will have to have difficult conversations and be asked difficult questions by their adopted child. I may just be asked a few more that most.  Culturally I am thankful that I live in a city that is very diverse and has a alot of Latin and Hispanic heritage.   I will make sure to teach them about their culture and make sure that they will learn Spanish.  When I look at them all I see are my son's not born from my body but in my heart. 

  • This is a very real and ongoing issue for many parents looking to adopt! There are so many unspoken issues that adoptive parents cannot anticipate and that fester in their child?s mind. You want your child to embrace their culture and their identity as well as feeling accepted into yours. I was lucky enough to come across author Catana Tully and her memoir, Split at the Root ( The author writes from her own personal experience about being adopted into a family who?s race and culture differed from her own. The book takes place during World War 2 and follows Catana?s journey from birth to adulthood. Split at the Root is a story of great historical significance for all persons interested in coming to terms with diversity. Family secrets, lies, protections, cultural viewpoints, racism and biases are brought to the surface and faced in grace and acceptance. Catana struggles to find her identity, the true story behind her birth parents, and her place in the world. This book highlights important issues for those who have or plan to adopt a child of a different race and/or culture.  This book is a valuable educational tool for parents and I hope you give it a chance! 800x600 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";}
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