This multi-part article highlights information for prospective adoptive parents. Heart to Heart, a Utah adoption agency, strives to provide the latest adoption information, including private adoption and open adoption options.
The latest adoption trend involves breaking cultural barriers and pushing past transracial issues. More Caucasian couples are seeking to adopt African American children, whether it is through domestic or international adoptions. For example, in 2004, 26-percent of African American children in foster care were adopted by Caucasian couples. This figure was up from 14-percent in 1998. With a notable increase since 2000, many agencies claim this figure is related to financial incentives for adoptive families and more Americans adopting across racial lines, as many African countries have experienced an increase in outbound adoptions to U.S. residents.
The choice to adopt a transracial child is not an easy one. Extensive studies about transracial adoptions are not conclusive, as studies are sporadic with no long-term results. However, many agencies are offering advanced support for adoptive parents that adopt a transracial child, helping to minimize the impact on the child during their formative, younger years.
Reports show that transracial children adopted by couples often look in the mirror and feel different, especially if they do not live in ethnically mixed neighborhoods. In fact, parents are advised to embrace their adoptive child’s cultural roots and incorporate this into family traditions and events, helping children feel unique, yet teaching them to appreciate their heritage.
Children should never feel embarrassed or ashamed about being different and their uniqueness should be celebrated. In fact, some experts are actually recommending cultural camps, which would teach children more about their ethnic heritage, while allowing them to feel embraced by other same-race children.
Adoptive parents should never downplay if a transracial child feels uncomfortable about racial barriers. Having an open policy with children to discuss differences, especially if school-age children make comments, is important. This facilitates an open communication path, which is advantageous to a healthy parent-child relationship.
While many big cities may not experience transracial barriers, adoptive parents should be sensitive to small town issues, as transracial adoptions may not be something that has been embraced by the local community. Parents should be proud of their adoptive child and talking to people about the benefits of transracial adoption may help overcome some of these barriers. Often, barriers are simply associated with negative connotations and misunderstandings. Parents can help overcome this by simply addressing these issues and being positive role models within their communities.