Transracial Adoption 101

Adoption STAR’s MSW Intern Kaitlin Incorvia shares information on a webinar she recently attended that focused on transracial adoption.

kaitlin_adultDuring a recent expert Q&A webinar about transracial adoption (facilitated by Beth Hall), I took away a few discussion points that I thought would be important for our adoptive parents to think about as they prepare for and have discussions with their children about race.

First off, race matters! It is vital to be able to learn how to “talk, think, and interact” like you genuinely believe this! Acknowledge that race has an impact both on your relationships and your child’s life.

Here’s a 3 step learning process for transracial parents that was presented during the webinar:

1.  Understand the issues: Don’t wait for your kids to ask about race, bring it up in conversation regularly! Learn everything you can about “the world of people of color” Interesting Facts to Consider:

  • Infants as Young as 6 months can reliably identify racial differences.
  • By 2.5/3 years of age children will indicate same race preference in peer selection or proximity.

2.  Learn the language: Talk about race and racism and acknowledge that they do exist! Practice what to say when you do talk about it with your kids. It is important that your kids know and feel that you are comfortable talking about race! You want them to be able to be able to come to you about this topic, not shy away from it. Talk about race even when your kids are very young. Remember that “silence is a conversation, too.” What message will you be sending your child if you avoid talking about race?

3.  Learn the tools: How can you further integrate race into your child’s life? Is their diversity in your child’s life? What can you do to increase the diversity? Be prepared to make connections across racial lines. Your kids are very aware of the race of the people that you have relationships with. Are there people that you are connected with that look like your child? Or do the people you have relationships with only look like you?

So you may be wondering, how do I even begin to talk about race with my child? Hall suggests talking about the facts first! There are many books that talk about what race is and this may be helpful for younger children and lay the groundwork for future conversations. As your child gets older, you can discuss what is fair and unfair and relate this back to people’s differences and how they may be treated. During these types of conversations it can be helpful to talk about story characters or a “story you heard” that relates to the fair/unfair topic. For Example: Molly does not like Maria because she has blue eyes. Mark does not like to play with James because his skin is darker than his. It is vital to add a value statement at the end of this conversation such as, “in our family we really disagree with that.”

Want to learn more about this topic? The full audio recording is available at: Expert Audio: Inside Transracial Adoption