Adopting a Mixed Race Child

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Jan. 2004

My husband and I are trying to adopt an infant as we can not create children on our own ( Although we orginially thought we would adopt a full caucasian child (as we are both caucasian), we are now strongly considering a mixed race child (african american/caucasian). We are pursuing an open adoption where we retain contact with the birthparents. I would love to hear from parents that have adopted mixed race children about their experience. I'm interested in the success stories as well as the challenges. Thanks. Rachel

This does not exactly address your posting, but I thought I would offer our experience. We have a mixed race family - our adopted son is a full hispanic, and we are both caucasian. We adopted him at birth from Santa Maria, CA. We were very open to meeting birth moms (and adopting kids) of all races when we were trying to adopt and thus our adoption was relatively fast. I love having some diversity in our household. For the most part I assume that people see our son and realize he is adopted although every once in awhile someone will comment that our son does not look like either parent. Adoption is outside the realm of experience for many, and others are curious about it and will ask. I am still so thrilled with our experience that I do not mind talking to people about it. My son (! age 3) seems pretty comfortable with it as well. He has other transracially adopted friends so for him families come in all color combinations and he sees nothing unusual with that. Berkeley is a very easy place to raise a child that does not look like you. There are some wonderful post-adoption play groups with every color, gender, age, etc combination you can imagine. One thing to note: many mixed race children are often strikingly good looking and will draw attention. Be prepared for questions, and realize that most people are well meaning and only curious. I always hope that some of the people I talk to will realize how great adoption is and make that choice for themselves someday. Good luck! Happy Mama

I grew up in a mixed race household. Both of my parents are white however my mother married an African-American man when I was 5. My stepfather was the only dad I knew and he raised me from the age of 5. My half-siblings are all mixed race and we lived in primarily black neighborhoods growing up. So tho I am not mixed race myself, I had a lot of exposure to the racial issues growing up. I am now 44 years old and things have definitely changed since I was a kid socially for children of mixed race heritage. But there is still a need to sort out ''who I am.'' I have had a lot of feelings around race, and as I like to read, I have read to help myself cope with figuring out how race has affected me. Books that addressed african american kids with white heritage: The Color of Water, Pearl's Secret were helpful to me. As I am raising my kids, I found it helpful to read I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla by a psychologist local to the Bay Area who explores how children at different ages process race issues. My other thought about this is that Americans tend to have a lot of deeply ingrained stereotypes about African-Americans. And it may be beneficial to really look at these for yourself and your spouse and face any feelings you have. What do you feel if there is an african american young man walking behind you? What are your thoughts about the economic and educational levels of african americans in this country? What feelings come up for you if you are the only caucasians in a certain setting, like a school or a shopping area? Do you know of any middle class african american communities? How will you expose and acculturate your child to his/her mixed heritage? I wish you all the best in your adoption journey. jc

It took me a while before answering this advice request because adoption is such a personal decision. One thing kept coming to my mind though. You should maybe discuss with your partner and find out the reason why you originally wanted to adopt a Caucasian infant and now are open to mixed-race infant. Also think about why you are not considering adopting an African- American infant. You can also consult Pact, they will be able to help you understand how transracial adoption will change your life forever... for the better. transracial adoptive mom

Contact PACT phone: 510-243-9460. They are an educational & membership organization in the East Bay and they offer a lot of resources & workshops ! for adoptive transracial familes. They have a very good self-assessment guide called ''Below the Surface'' for anyone considering adoption across racial or cultural lines. Suzanne