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“How do I find other Black kids for them to play with?”

I was asked this question by a White adoptive mom of two Black preschool-aged daughters. After I recovered from the shock of the question, I responded she needed to start by meeting Black families in her neighborhood, children’s preschool, and church. If those places offered no possibilities, then the problem was much bigger than she imagined.

While I’m no expert on transracial adoption (being only 5 years into the experience myself), I do talk to many prospective, White adoptive families deciding if they should adopt outside their race. I keep talking and typing on this issue, because the situations that led to these questions should never be a reality for a White adoptive family of Black children.

Starting the Conversation 

The first question I ask families as they consider walking this road is, “Are you aware that love is not enough?” It takes people aback. But if a White couple believes they can raise a Black child simply by loving them “just like any other child”, they are not prepared for the complexities of bringing up a child in our racialized society. Love is only enough if it spurs the family to fully examine their own White privilege, fragility, and identity and leads them to dive into the challenges and realities of being Black in America.

But that’s just the beginning.

Will Your Child Be the First Black Person to Regularly Eat Dinner Around Your Table?

If you don’t have any Black friends close enough to you that they are a regular part of your life, you are not ready to adopt a Black child. Your child needs to see themselves mirrored in their world and yours. You need to have a broader understanding of racial issues. Neither of these things is authentic or truly possible if your entire circle of friends are fellow White people.

Will Your Child be Alone In Their Neighborhood, Church, and School?

If the answer is yes, then it may not be in the best interest of the child for you to adopt them. If you are willing to make large-scale changes to your life, then absolutely make those changes and then consider adopting transracially.

Our Black children need to see adults in their lives in positions of power and authority. They need to see Black spiritual leaders, Black teachers, Black doctors, Black neighbors. That simply isn’t possible in nearly all-White communities. Not only does this benefit your child, but your whole family. Being in racially insular communities doesn’t allow for a broader understanding of the fullness of God’s image , and doesn’t prepare any of us for the rapidly changing, culturally diverse country we live in.

Are You Willing To Be Brave?

The immediate answer may feel like it should be an automatic yes, but the reality can be much harder. How will you respond when a close family member or friend makes a racist joke or comment? Do you feel prepared to speak out against micro-aggressions against your child? Are you willing to lose people for speaking out against racism in all its insidious forms? If that’s not something you feel ready to take on yet, then taking on transracial adoption probably isn’t the right choice for your family.

Introspection

If you think learning to be a White parent of a Black child is about learning to do hair, rescuing a child, or creating a family that looks more like heaven, it’s time to do some serious introspection before you embrace transracial adoption. Black children don’t need rescued by White people.

Transracial adoption can be beautiful, but as with any form of adoption, there is loss. There is not only the loss of birth family, there is the loss of growing up in your culture. As parents, it’s our job to minimize the effects of this loss of culture as much as possible. Showing your child that you value people of color by having them in your life as friends, neighbors, role models, and leaders is an incredibly valuable place to start.

By the way, the woman who asked the initial question never responded. She got angry and left the group where she had found me. Future White parents of Black children, don’t let that be you.

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