What is transracial or transcultural adoption? In a nutshell, it’s the placement of a child from one culture or ethnic group with adoptive parents of a differing culture or ethnic group. My family and I know first-hand what this experience is like. For us, it’s a wonderful and enriching experience.
Of our six children, our two youngest are adopted and both are from Mexican heritage. While one has light hair and hazel eyes, the other is obviously Mexican American. Yes, I get looks when we go out and people hear him call me mom. I’ve had checkers at Walmart ask me if I’m babysitting. I’ve had folks ask me “where he came from.” I’ve had people ask me if they are part something (to which my reply before has been, “No, they are 100% human”). I’ve had strangers ask me if my husband is Mexican. My husband had a stranger at a park be quite perplexed at how our boys could possibly be brothers. Quite often, this is all done in ear shot of my children.
Frankly, none of this really bothers me. People are curious and sometimes ignorant and quite often speak without thinking. We as a family are very open about our children’s race and heritage. They, just like my biological children, have a very rich heritage that they should be proud of and deserve to know about. We don’t hide the fact that our race is different just like we don’t hide from the adoption topic.
How being in a transracial family will affect your child’s self-esteem will greatly depend on you and your extended family. There have been some studies done on how transracial adoption affects the adopted child, but few large scale studies. The results are mixed. Some studies seem to show no difference in self-esteem between kids who are adopted transracially compared to those who are adopted within their ethnic background. Other studies seem to show that self-esteem is an issue for these kids, and that they will struggle with their racial identity later in life.
How does my family handle it? We are very open about it. We talk about our skin colors. I tell my darker skin son how much I love his skin. He tells me when I sunburn due to my very light colored skin, that he wishes he could give me some of his tan. Sweet boy. Because we homeschool, I’m able to spend time teaching them more about their heritage. We attend Cinco de Mayo festivals in our home town. Because neither of our boys came to us knowing Spanish, we are currently having them take Spanish lessons. To my children, biological as well as adopted, adoption and transracial families are a common thing. My sister and her husband also have three adopted children. Two are from Russia and one is from China. Our “cousins” family pictures are a wonderful mixed portrait of different heritages. And you know what? It’s an amazingly beautiful portrait.
Have you adopted a child of another ethnicity or culture? We’d love to hear about your experience!