Introduction to Transracial or Transcultural Adoption

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Transcultural or Transracial Adoption refers to the placement of child from one culture or ethnic group with adoptive parents of a differing culture or ethnic group. In reality, these terms typically refer to the placement of children of color with Caucasian adoptive parents. Before considering or entering into a transracial or trans-cultural adoption, there are a few things you may wish to consider.

There have been a number of studies done on how transracial adoption affects the adopted person, but few large scale studies. The results are mixed. Some studies seem to show no difference in self-esteem or other measures between kids who are adopted trans-racially versus those who are adopted within their ethnic background. Other studies seem to show that self-esteem is an issue for these kids, and that they will struggle with their racial identity later in life too.

In considering a trans-cultural or trans racial adoption, here are some points to consider:

  • Your beliefs about racial identity and ethnicity: Are you comfortable around people of color? Does your family or community have historic prejudices? Does your circle of friends extend beyond your ethnic group?
  • Your motives for adopting a child of another ethnic background: Why do you want to adopt this child? This is a time to be brutally honest with yourself.
  • Family and community support: How will your family respond to someone so different than themselves? Be aware that in adopting a child of another ethnicity, your family portrait is forever changed. If your family cannot accept the child, it is probably not the best decision for you. Is your community open to trans-cultural families? Are there other children who look like "your" child in your neighborhood, school and place of worship? Are you the kind of person who can stand criticism, however unfair? Are you willing to do what it takes to support and protect your child from disapproving adults and unkind classmates?
  • Resources: What resources can you bring to bear to assist your child? Are there support group, language schools, dance classes (etc.) that specifically cater to this child's ethnic group? Do you know about hair and skin care and, if not, how will you educate yourself?
  • While not for everyone, trans-racial and trans-cultural can result in sound, happy families. However, it is important to enter the process with open eyes and to be aware of the issues and concerns. Ask questions, be honest with yourself and enjoy your beautiful family.

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