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Transracial adoption 101

(8 Posts)
oldnewmummy Tue 29-Oct-13 12:18:23

Funnily enough I am the adoptive mother of a transracial adoptee who is doing a Masters in Couselling and Psychotherapy and I'm just finishing an assignment on racial and ethnic identity issues in transracially adopted children. If you PM me I'll send you a copy. There is a huge amount of research out of there, but I have to say that it's not as pessimistic as I'd feared.

Italiangreyhound Tue 29-Oct-13 01:35:35

mother0Finvention, I should clarify when I speak of a mixed cultural heritage I am not just thinking of one African country and UK, I am wondering about people who have quite a wide mixes of culture that would make it harder to pin down one identity. In my own life I know of children who have three national/cultural identities and have heard of children who have more than that.

Italiangreyhound Tue 29-Oct-13 01:32:23

Thank you steppemum and mother0Finvention.

steppemum I lived in Asia for a short while (couple of years) and travelled in Asia and I feel in some ways the experience changes you a bit.

mother0Finvention, I wonder how one 'manages' the cultural things when a child is very much of a mixed cultural heritage? When we considered overseas adoption we thought of China, because I had been there and studied Mandarin and loved the food. Had we adopted from China I had planned I and our birth DD and the child we adopted would all study Mandarin together! Not sure how that would have all worked out. We did not end up adopting from China, so are now in the process for domestic adoption.

Thank you so much for the thoughts and comments they are so helpful.

mother0Finvention how does it work if you do not look like a parent, I have heard before it is difficult from the child's point of view not be recognised as the child of that parent. Devora how does it work from the parents point of view. That seems to be something you can't change.

Can I ask, when you say "What an adoptive parent can not do is make up for the sense that, how ever loved they are, that adopted child was not good enough, or loved enough, by the one person in the world who should have loved them whatever, their biological parent!This is one reason why so many adoptions break down." What can make the difference, if you can't make up for things? I would value any thoughts on how you can make the difference so things don't break down, please?

Thank you for taking the time to reply. It is very helpful.

mother0Finvention Tue 29-Oct-13 00:16:24

Children need to be loved. An adoptive parent can be as good or as crap as a biological parent. What an adoptive parent can not do is make up for the sense that, how ever loved they are, that adopted child was not good enough, or loved enough, by the one person in the world who should have loved them whatever, their biological parent!This is one reason why so many adoptions break down. It isn't a reason not to try. But it is a reason to be extra thoughtful about the child you adopt.
I am what people call mixed race, it's not a label I like. My biological mother is white and was a very politically conscious and socially aware woman . Nevertheless the reality is we have very different experiences of the world. This is probably true of most mothers and daughters, but race exacipates this. She didn't know how to do my hair, she didn't pass on a mother tongue that was African, or cooking tips for that matter. Try and make sure you have these things down if you adopt out of your culture. Oh and check out my blog Separated At Birth

steppemum Tue 29-Oct-13 00:08:59

devora, I love your last paragraph.

My dh is dutch, so my kids are bi-cultural and my SIL is black, and I have 3 mixed race nieces.
We also lived in Asia with our family for 8 years

Yes my own identity has changed being part of my wider family and all that it means, and it does sometimes separate me from others who are mono cultural, and I find my values and world view are sometimes at odds with people I meet at the school gate.

Italiangreyhound Mon 28-Oct-13 23:40:13

Fabulous, Devora, thanks so much.

Devora Mon 28-Oct-13 23:00:35

Hi IGH. I feel very strongly that people should be very thoughtful and careful about this, but not strongly about whether it is a good idea per se. I think there are some brilliant transracial adoptions and also some white parents who completely fail to grasp how to support their child's racial identity.

First thing I'll say is that I don't believe children are colour-blind and I don't believe that love is all you need. I have seen within my own extended family how damaging it is if children are racially isolated. I am the white mother of a mixed race daughter who tells me frequently how much she wants to have yellow hair and blue eyes, just like mine.

That doesn't mean that I think she would be better off with other parents, just that even in my situation (and I do have a black dp, and lots of mixed race children on both sides of the family as mother has 8 mixed race siblings) it is something I have to give attention to.

So, in answer to your question, I think a good transracial adopter is one who understands that they need to be thoughtful and resourceful and committed to responding to their child's evolving needs in this area. PAC do specialist training in this area (I have the resource pack - I'll lend it to you when we meet smile) and there are of course books and also specialist support groups. I live in a very white part of London, so I have also made conscious efforts to find childminders with mixed race charges. I talk about our different skin colour and I tell her how when I was little I always wanted curly hair like hers. I take her to the Caribbean where she can meet other family and where she can enjoy being in the majority. We have books and toys that reflect her ethnicity (not solely - even if that were desirable I doubt it would be possible; it's still surprisingly difficult to get away from ubiquitous blonde fairies and princesses).

Kew said to me the other day how your own ethnic identity kind of shifts when you adopt transracially - I think we've both said that on these threads - and I think that is right. I'm still a white woman, of course, but I am part of a racially mixed family and that has created change for all of us.

Italiangreyhound Mon 28-Oct-13 20:45:49

Hi all, for those not familiar with the 101 it's the USA system for the basic starter class and means 'introductory something'. I believe it means with no prerequisites.

So we are a white family and I am wondering how good we would be as adopters of a child who is mixed heritage or of a different ethnicity.

I know some people will hold very strong views either way and I would love to hear any thoughts.

I have no particular child in mind at all. I am just wondering about this as a thought.

On a positive note I have travelled widely in Asia and been in situations where I was the only 'westerner' so have the very tiniest of understandings about being in a minority for a very small time!

I would love links to any useful, helpful articles or other mumsnet threads and any wise words from anyone who is a transracial adopter.

Many thanks.

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