What is a transracial adoption and why does that matter?
Transracial adoption occurs when an adoptee is a different racial or ethnic group from their adopted parents. This is significant because it means if you do decide to adopt a child from a different ethnic background, they may not necessarily receive the environmental factors necessary for a strong identity and cultural development. This can absolutely be a pitfall for parents who desire to adopt a child from a different ethnical background. However, this does not mean that a child growing up in their own ethnic and cultural environment will have all the internal and external resources available for them to thrive.
What are some disadvantages to growing up in a transracial home?
Transracial adoption is a challenging dynamic for the adoption triad. Of course, a child does not have the same developmental tools as an adult and cannot yet reason out their own experiences. Naturally, children have not developed the tools to teach their adopted parents about their ethnicity, nor should they. Therefore, parents of transracial adoptees have a unique responsibility to facilitate the formation process.
Based on my own perspective and experiences I believe some disadvantages to growing up transracially adopted:
- Cultural Inferiority Complex
- Double Consciousness
- Risks of Family Isolation
- Self-Esteem Struggles
- Identity Confusion
- Internalization of Negative Racial and Adoption Experiences
What did I learn growing up as a transracial adoptee?
Transracial adoption is complicated, can be messy, but with the right resources, it can be a rewarding experience. One myth of transracial adoption, in general, is that adoptive parents of one ethnicity cannot love a child of different ethnicity. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is, parenting your own biological children does not guarantee a successful and close relationship. There are some unique advantages to growing up transracially. In my experience, In my transracial background helped form me in many ways, including:
- Cultural Consideration and Competency
- Multi-Ethnic Identity Formation
- Access to different social networks
- Uniqueness and Independence
- Strong Sense of Self
- Cross-Cultural Communication Skills
Of course, there is no perfect recipe for the transracial adoption experience. Sometimes the disadvantages out way the advantages. However, if you are considering adopting transracially, it is crucial to seek out the many resources available to make sure you facilitate the development process with care and concern. In some ways, it is impossible to avoid all the pitfalls that adopting transracially can bring, and If you have hesitations, I strongly encourage you to consider your own motivations in adopting before making a lifelong commitment.
The burden every transracial adoptee feel is to both discover and make meaning in their cultural and social experiences in the context of the racialized world we live in. This is important because although we cannot always put words to our negative or positive experiences, we still experience them! As parents adopting transracially, we must strive to draw out the conversation, guide the discussion and highlight the difficult intersections of adoption, race, and place. We must continue to create language to help our children process the complexities of their experiences because that should never be a burden they have to carry alone.
As we move into Spring, may we commit the process to Him who adopted us and guides us to be more like Him. Thank God, we don’t have to figure that out by ourselves!