Choosing an interracial adoption, adopting outside your own race, is a big decision. It's also a big controversy as many people are against it. Questions remain as to whether a white family, for example, can properly prepare a black child for dealing with racism. Thanks to the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 and the revisions made in 1996, it is against the law to prohibit an adoption or delay an adoption based solely on the race of the adoptive parents or child.
Now the decision rests mainly with the families, social workers, and agencies involved. What issues should you consider before making the final decision to adopt interracially?
Questions to Ask Yourself:Racism
- How will you confront or handle the racism of others? Racism is out there despite the huge changes in our world. Are you prepared to handle questions from people, sometimes total strangers, about your child's heritage or parentage?
- What about the opinions of your extended family? Unlike strangers where comments will be new, with family one usually knows what to expect. Does it bother you that an Uncle uses racial slurs? How often do you see this person? Once a year? Is that often enough to sway your decision one way or another? Be aware of the fact that you may have to decide to limit contact with some members of your family to protect your child.
It is important that your child is able to connect with others who are of the same race. So you may consider the following:
- What is the racial breakdown of your community?
- Are the schools diverse?
- Do you have friends of different races?
- Is there racial diversity in your church?
- Do you know people who have adopted or married outside of their race?
Some have said that when you adopt a child internationally you are also adopting their culture. You don't need to change your entire life, small changes can make a big impact. Can you help provide the child with a sense of pride in their culture and heritage? What can you do to help instill this pride in your child?
- Each race has its own susceptibility to different medical problems. Have you educated yourself on the different medical and skin conditions that children of color may develop?
Do you understand the different skin and hair care needs of people with darker skin tones and textures of hair?
My friend has done a lot of fostering for African American children. She has been stopped in stores by African American families who have commented on the obvious good care she has given the children. She has heard the following comment more than once, "It's so nice to see a white foster family that takes the time to learn how to take care of the kids' hair."
By taking the time to learn about the needs of her foster children she has shown respect to their race and culture.
Children begin to see that each person has different physical characteristics around the age of 3 or 4. One of the first things noticed is the color of skin. It is important for children to see people around them who are similar to themselves.
My cousin adopted two children from Guatemala. Her daughter was about 5 when they adopted her brother. Her daughter's first comment regarding her new baby brother was, "He's the same color I am!".
My cousin's family point out the differences in their family as well as the similarities. They may tell their daughter that she is a perfectionist like her big brother, but she also understands that she was born to another mother in another country like her little brother.