A lot of people choose adoption when building a family, regardless of their ability or inability to conceive a biological child. In recent years, adopting babies of a different race has become quite common. Despite this, many people still have inhibitions when it comes to adopting a baby of a different race. They fear the possible issues that may arise because of racial and cultural differences. It is true that adjustments need to be made in these situations. It is a lifelong journey with all sorts of challenges along the way. However, it certainly has its own set of joys and rewarding experiences.
How Different Is It From Adopting a Child of the Same Race?
Race should obviously be irrelevant when it comes to your love for your children. It certainly should not have an impact on your bond and love for the child. Nevertheless, it should not be taken lightly. In many ways, parenting an adopted child from a different country and culture is just like adopting a child with the same racial background. However, there are some details that need more attention. Heritage, for example, can affect a lot of parenting decisions and the overall relationship of the family.
The reality is that it’s difficult to deny the racial differences between you and your adopted child. Even the most mundane characteristics, such as the physical appearance, of a child are obvious. If you are adopting a child of a different race, you have to be aware of the adjustments you, your child and the rest of the family need to make in order to help everyone through the process.
It is important to discuss this with your child when he reaches an appropriate age to understand. You and your family have to be prepared to explain the stark difference in physical appearance. You have to be ready to assure the child that these visible differences do not make him any less deserving. He also needs to feel secure enough to know that looking distinct doesn’t mean he will be treated differently. This is especially true for multiracial families where the parents have biological children. In this case, you should discuss the issues about racial differences with your biologic children to address any questions they may have and to assure them that nothing will change.
How Do We Discuss These Issues?
Each family has a unique set of experiences, and there are several possible approaches to address this matter. There are no exact steps to follow, but here are some suggestions on how to begin addressing the subject:
1. Acknowledge and accept the differences
First, you have to be able to acknowledge the fact that there are differences between you and the child. These differences can be as inconspicuous as hair color or as prominent as skin color. Acknowledging and accepting these differences will teach you to appreciate them more and think of the differences less. It will lead you to understand them better and address other possible needs.
2. Discuss cultural identity
With acknowledgment, comes acceptance and understanding one’s cultural identity. It is highly encouraged that parents raise their adopted kids with a wide understanding of their individual cultural identities. It helps them understand and accept themselves. It also helps them address questions and issues on their personal identity as well as maintain and honor any traditions they wish to uphold.
3. Confront Racism
As your family adapts, certain adjustments will also have to be made within your social groups. Friends and other family members should be educated on the issues. You should try to help them become more open to accepting people from different races or backgrounds. Encourage conversations about racial issues and patiently answer their questions. The more informed they are, the more understanding they will become.
As much as it is important to explain racial issues to other people, it is also crucial that you listen to what they have to say about it. Allow them to express themselves and share their experiences with you. It will help them process their thoughts and feelings. At the same time, it will help you learn more about their perspective.
While most societies are now more open to diverse races and cultures, there are still some occasional prejudices. You have to be prepared to respond to some hurtful comments and unfair treatment. You can try to avoid confrontation. But in case you have to, just keep your responses simple, short and honest. Keep in mind that in this journey, your priority, above anyone and anything else, is always the child’s welfare. Most of all, you need to prepare your children for these possibilities and assure them that, regardless of the hurtful things they may hear, they are loved. Remind them that you will face all these challenges together, as a family.
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Author: Destiny Adoption Services
Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.