Tip Sheet Tuesday: Honoring Your Child’s Racial and Cultural Identity

When adopting a child transracially or transculturally, certain changes within your family may seem obvious in the beginning. However, adopting a child of a different race or culture will require a shift in thinking above and beyond what you may initially think because your child’s experience will differ greatly from your own.

122406133.jpgWe hope the following information may help your family adapt to becoming a transracial family or a transcultural family.

Definitions
Here are some definitions that most people use when referring to race and culture:

Racial identity is the racial background with which you identify. Many people today have backgrounds from more than one culture or race, and many of these people will pick on that they feel they can relate to the best.

Transracial or transcultural adoption means placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group.

Cultural Identity: chosen or adopted culture.

Creating Positive Racial and Cultural Identity
By empowering your children to adapt to your family and your culture, you will be honoring your child’s racial and cultural identity. A child who has been adopted and is a different race will have varying emotional needs.

Your children will be treated as members of your family at home, but may have a different experience in the world at large. It’s these experiences that contribute largely to the development of their identity. They may deal with racism or stereotypes that you or your children have never had to deal with in the past.

This requires preparation and open family communication. Rather than expecting that your child adapts to your family, your family will need to adapt to your child and his or her racial and cultural identity. Your child’s race and culture should become a part of all family members experience and be present throughout your home.

The Impact of Transracial Identity
Adopting transracially impact the entire family. The whole family now becomes transracial—not simply the child. If all family members think about their family unit in this way, it can prevent the child who was adopted from alienated.

Relationships with extended family members and friends may be challenged or even changed when they are asked to accept and respect you as a transracial family.

At school, peers may question your children about why they look different from you or a sibling. Not only will your children need to be prepared for these occurrences, but so will the entire family.

As a family, reflect on your own beliefs, attitudes, and experiences so you can understand the messages that are being sent to your children.

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