Questions for Parents
Considering International Adoption?
Transracial or international adoption is not for every family, just as adoption is not for everyone. Being a very nice person does not necessarily mean you will be good parent to an adoptive child. Many good people and good parents cannot really accept someone else’s child and love him/her as their own. Many adoptive parents are excellent parents to a child of their own race, but not necessarily cut out to be good parents to a child of another race or background. It takes people with extra sensitivity and understanding to raise a child of a different race in our race-conscious society.
Adopting a child of a different race – What is involved for the parents and for the child?
From the parent’s point of view:
Your family will be inter-racial for generations! It is not just a question of an appealing little baby, how do you feel about inter-racial marriage? How does you family feel about inter-racial marriage? How will you feel when people assume that you are married to an Asian, Hispanic, or a Black person? How do you feel about getting lots of public attention (positive and negative stares and even obnoxious comments)? Potential Problems: The adopted child gets too much attention; other children in the family tend to get left out of this attention.
What are your ideas about race? What characteristics do you think of when you think of people of other races? Do you expect your child to have these characteristics? Adoptive children typically become Americanized. Try to visualize that cute little baby growing up into a child, a teenager, an adult, and a parent. Try to think of your future grandchildren.
How do you raise a child of a different race? Do you raise the child to have the same identity as you or your other children? Do you help the child to develop his/her own identity? Should the child have a foreign name? What relationship will the name have to their sense of “Who am I?” Imagine a child you know and love being sent to a foreign country to be adopted. How would you want the child to be raised? As an American in a foreign country? As a native in that country?
Do you know what it is like being a minority and growing up? Are you willing to learn what it is like to grow up a minority? Typically discrimination and/or pressure on Asian, Indian, or Hispanic people is subtler than against Black people. Therefore it is usually less obvious and will require more sensitivity.
From the Child’s point of view:
PRE-SCHOOL YEARS: The people the child LOVES the most, looks different from them. It will be natural for the child to want to resemble those they love. Your job will be to help them understand why they are different and to learn that difference is not a bad thing.
SCHOOL YEARS: The child will need help in understanding their heritage and background so he/she can explain and feel comfortable about their status with their friends. Children tend to ask what is on their mind, so your child will need to be able to answer those questions from other kids; “What are YOU?,” “Why are your eyes like that?,” “Why did your other mom not keep you?”
ADOLESCENT YEARS: This is the time of life when the child tries to figure out “WHO am I?” Curiosity about their birth parents and/or cultural background becomes stronger. Questions about dating begin to arise. Look at your community and try to guess how many of your friends or neighbors would wholeheartedly accept their children dating your child. How would you feel if your child developed a special interest in their native country? What is they wanted to identify themselves as a foreign person? What if they got involved in a group of Asian, Indian, Hispanic, or Black teenagers? What if they wanted to visit their native land? What if they were the victim of obvious discrimination?
ADULTHOOD YEARS: This is the time of life when often one starts to look at “Whom will I marry?” Do you have an idea about who your child would probably marry? Can you imagine them marrying a Black, an Asian, a Hispanic, an Indian, or a Caucasian person? Why? Would you advocate for or against an inter-racial marriage for your child?
In addition to your qualities, abilities and feelings as parents, it is important for you to understand your motivation for this kind of adoption. Do you feel that you are doing a good deed for a poor, homeless child? Do you feel that you would be acquiring a status symbol, a conversation piece?
It is important that you have an attitude of respect for the country and culture of the child. If you feel that your own values and culture are superior to that of the child’s or if you feel that your primary orientation is to help the child become absorbed into your culture at the expense of their own, then you might find trans-racial or international adoption difficult for both you and the child.
Trans-racial and international adoption is a beautiful process of becoming a family! Adoptive parents, in this type of family, need an interest and openness to learning more about various cultures. You need to be able to have pride in your adoptive child’s culture and heritage? It is vital that adoptive parents of international children have the empathy to try to identity with your child, and to try to see the world with their point of view?
ENJOY the lifelong journey of adoption with your child!