Why You Need to Be Honest About Race in Your Adoption Preferences

by | Mar 24, 2017 | Adoptive Families Blog

race preferences.jpgWe recently came across a great article, Stunning Photos Of Biracial Twins Reveal The Absurdity Of Racism (IMAGES), and can see a connection to adoption choices and preferences.

Hopeful adoptive parents should check their expectations if they have a certain “racial makeup” in mind that they are, or are not, open to. For example, if a biracial adoptive couple is seeking a match with a woman pregnant with a baby who would essentially be half Caucasian and half African American, they should be aware that genetics, such as with these twins, can only predict so much when it comes to the appearance of a child. It’s impossible to control a child’s skin tone or features. At Lifetime, we’ve worked with adoptive couples of all races who have had to address fears or hang-ups about being a “picture perfect” family, based on tradition or their own family’s expectations. As with the amazing biracial twins mentioned in the article above, even a biological parent of mixed race doesn’t necessarily influence the skin tone or facial features of a child. We see these rare and beautiful twins as a great example of loving a child as an individual, for their unique gifts and abilities to be nurtured and directed through healthy parenting. As the article states, where does the line between “Caucasian” or “African American” end, especially for children of mixed race?

At Lifetime, we’ve seen many examples of how race and adoption expectations play out among adoptive families. There are times when a biracial baby has light skin and hair color like his Caucasian parent, while also favoring his African American side in facial features and hair texture. In other stories, mixed race adoptive couples seeking a child that might share a mix of skin tones, such as what they’d expect if they gave birth to a biological child, may find that the child they adopt grows to have a darker complexion than anticipated based on birth parent photos or other biological siblings.

In adoption, it’s important for adopting parents to be honest about their preferences when it comes to a child’s race, at the same time keeping their expectations and justifications for their decisions in check. A birth mother would be devastated to find out that her child was rejected by adoptive parents because he or she was born a little “too dark” or “too light,” depending on the adoptive parents’ expectations of what “fit” into their family. Essentially, birth parents have no more control over the appearance of a child than adoptive parents do.

Further, when we look at the photos of biracial twins, we could guess that their biological parents may have even considered some of the same questions adoptive parents face, such as ‘Will people believe this child is mine?’ or ‘Will my child identify as part of our family, or be accepted by the rest of my family, even though they look different?’

If you’re hoping to adopt, it’s wise to consider all things before settling on your adoption search criteria. Be honest with yourself and ask questions. Cross-check your expectations or hopes with what is reasonable, what is based on fear, and what is a fact within your own limitations. And, if you need help grieving the dream you once had of a child who shared your face in common with you, seek counseling or a healthy support group of other hopeful adoptive parents.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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