“Are any of your families open to adopting a biracial child? Will the adoptive family teach her about Black history and help her learn about her culture? Will my kids and I be able to visit?”
These are important questions as transracial and biracial adoption are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. At Lifetime Adoption, we have families from many different cultures who are open to adopting children from all races.
Even though love and family bonds cross racial lines, we understand that adoptive families and birth parents will have questions and concerns about how to best support a child from another race. Children who grow up learning to take pride in their heritage are more well-adjusted and have a more positive self-image, so it’s natural that you want this for your child. This is why Lifetime Adoption offers free counseling, peer support mentors, non-judgmental support, and guidance all throughout the adoption process.
When you choose an open adoption plan with Lifetime Adoption, you also have the opportunity to take part in shaping your child’s cultural identity. By choosing the perfect adoptive family, communicating with the adoptive parents, and forming a special relationship with your child, you set your child on a path toward ethnic pride and high self-esteem.
Choose the Perfect Adoptive Family for Your Child
With open adoption, you can search for the perfect adoptive family who will instill the values and education you wish for your child. As you browse through profiles and speak with hopeful adoptive parents, consider the following criteria that may lead to a more meaningful cultural experience for your child:
- Does the adoptive family live in a culturally diverse area?
- Does the adoptive family already have friendships and connections with people from your child’s culture?
- Will your child see people from her culture in positions of authority?
- Will the adoptive family actively seek out cultural role models for your child?
Communicate With the Adoptive Family
Good communication is at the heart of any successful relationship. Always be honest and upfront with your child’s adoptive family. Let them know how important it will be for them to teach your child about her heritage. Here are some of the many ways that adoptive families are encouraged to honor their transracial adopted child’s heritage:
- Adoptive families should educate themselves about their child’s culture. They should read books and articles by authors from their child’s culture, make friends with people within their child’s cultural community, and learn about traditions, celebrations, language, and native dishes.
- Adoptive parents should introduce their child to books, music, art, and holidays from her culture. The family can find ways to weave their child’s culture into their everyday lives.
- Adoptive families should seek out peers and role models from their child’s culture by joining community groups or support groups for transracial adoption. They can be mindful of cultural role models when selecting their child’s doctor or coaches.
- Adoptive families should have age-appropriate discussions about race and racism right from the start. The family can take an interest in social issues that impact their child.
- Adoptive parents should take their child’s lead. As the child expresses questions and interest in her culture, they can help her discover the information she is looking for.
You can also make recommendations about cultural practices that are specifically important to you and your family. For example, is there a unique way that your family celebrates a cultural event? Is there a book written by an author from your culture that you loved as a kid? As your child grows, she will want to learn about her individual birth history as well as her cultural history. These personal connections to her past will make her feel special and loved.
Forming a Relationship With Your Child
Many birth parents have close relationships with their child’s adoptive family. If you choose to make phone calls and visits a part of your open adoption plan, then your child will have an opportunity to learn about her cultural identity directly from you and your family.
You can plan to celebrate certain traditions and holidays with your child’s adoptive family. As your child gets older, you might even plan culturally significant trips and vacations with your child’s adoptive family.
As your child grows, you can share stories and answer her questions. You can also be there to help her process the world events she witnesses and any race-related interactions she has in her own community. If her adoptive family is another race, they will not have the same perceptions and experiences, so your advice and understanding will be invaluable to her.
When you choose an open adoption plan with Lifetime Adoption, you are in control of planning the future you wish for your baby. Through your influence and relationship with the adoptive family, your baby can grow up with a healthy connection to her roots and take pride in all aspects of her identity.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.