My feed

to access all these features

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.


SWF adopting a child who is BME

30 replies

LesMills · 24/04/2021 23:00

I wish to adopt a black or mixed race child- I’m a white female. I understand the ideal of children retaining their cultural identity and why this is important. However, more than this I feel that every child needs love and physical and emotional safety in a good home, as part of a family. This I can provide.

I know that there are more BME children awaiting loving homes, however have heard of the wait for BME adoptive parents.

Is it worth me progressing further (I’ve joined an information session, which reinforced to cultural match view)? However, the adopter who joined the session adopted a BME child. I don’t want to finalise a big decision with my loved ones, to then be rejected due to being white.

I predict I’d get grilled why and I know why!

OP posts:
Rainallnight · 24/04/2021 23:04

It’s a complex issue this.

But what stands out for me is why you want to do this specifically? You should be going into this wanting the best match for you and the child. Ethnicity might be one of the things that come into it, but it’ll be by no means the only consideration.

I think a social worker might worry that you have a bit of a white saviour complex if you’re saying first and foremost you want to adopt a child who is black or of another ethnic minority origin.

LesMills · 24/04/2021 23:48

Thank you for responding. I appreciated your candidness with use of that term, which admittedly gave me a tummy feeling. Hearing such things is why I asked- I have picked up themes of match around ethnicity, where possible. I’d not phrased it that way in my reflections as it’s not how I’d view my role at all- simply ‘mummy’- however I’ve heard of the term you refer to in relation to things such as TV appeals. It saddens me.

There are many many reasons- family, relationships, friendships, feelings and passion around diversity, lifestyle, my career experiences.

We were advised in the information session to really think to the children who might need a home and whether we’d be open to adopt every child and every background. This was most strongly around children who might have complex SEND needs.

OP posts:
Ted27 · 24/04/2021 23:54

Ok Im a single adopter who is white. I have a dual heritage son.

Transracial adoption is rare in the UK and still somewhat controversial,
Even though I adopted transracially I do get really concerned about people who want to set out to intentionally adopt a child from another ethnicity. I’m afraid it does smack of white saviour complex.

First and foremost you should want to adopt, you then look for a match with a child whose needs you can meet and support.
When I was looking for a match I looked closely at about 6 children, the child who became my son was the only one of a different ethnicity. There were a number of very specific reasons why I was deemed suitable to adopt him.

You will not be rejected to adopt because you are white, yes I feel you will more than likely be rejected if you only wish to adopt a black or mixed heritage child.

LesMills · 25/04/2021 00:12

Thank you- your response is helpful to support my understanding. I understood complexity but not quite this specific around white saviour complex.

Looking to various information sources on white saviour complex, it most certainly isn’t. However, I need to acknowledge what perceptions might be.

Thank you again.

OP posts:
MarmiteChocolate · 25/04/2021 08:18

Read widely about the stories of people who have been transracially adopted before you make any calls to agencies.

I've just read "raceless" by Georgina Lawton which you definitely should look at, very interesting and shows that race and identity are way more than just skin colour and afro hair products.

LesMills · 25/04/2021 08:39

Thank you for your response. It is appreciated. Yes, I’ve been reading articles. An interesting Esme one, even this morning.

Absolutely- significantly more. I will look up that recommendation. Thank you.

OP posts:
Hammyhamster92 · 25/04/2021 08:40

Hi OP.

I am the stepmother to a black carribean boy who has recently arrived in the uk, ( I am in a relationship with his father, who has lived in the uk for the past few years. My stepson was living in his home country and being raised by his paternal grandparents until he came to join his father and me in the u.k).

My stepson finds is fully black, so it is obvious I am not his mum, ( I am white).

He finds it very difficult that whenever we go out, people instantly know I'm not his mum, ( his school friends assumed I'm his childminder!)

It is obviously best for DSS to be with us so he can be with his dad. However, if his dad wasn't around, I'm not sure walking around with everyone instantly knowing I wasnt his mum would have been good for him, ( obviously I'm not his mum, but I think DSS would like others to think so sometimes, so that he didn't instantly have to explain to nosy strangers, "my real mum is dead, I live with my dad and stepmum etc).

Somewhat controversially, I do think if DSS was mixed race it would be easier , as people would likely still assume I was mum and would not question him publicly.

Gordongrumpy · 25/04/2021 10:31

The advice is generally to keep an open mind as to finding the child you are the best parent for, rather than the child which fits your requirements.

If you want a child from an ethnic minority, why not consider sperm donation from that ethnic minority? I wonder if pondering that question will be enlightening?

I'm afraid it does all sound a bit "white saviour". Generally, children do best in families that reflect their ethnicity, why do you think you'd be a better parent than one who reflected their ethnicity? There are white kids in care, plenty of, why would you want to adopt a child who you can't meet some needs of over a child you can meet the needs of, based on the colour of their skin.

Someone's wish for a diverse, rainbow family isn't a reason to place a child. Children aren't something where you collect 'em all.

LesMills · 25/04/2021 10:41

Hammyhamster- that’s a really thoughtful, open response. It takes it back to the child’s feelings and needs. Which, of course, it’s always about. I feel sad that people feel the need to question and seek explanation with your DSS as he’s with his family. Thank you.

OP posts:
LesMills · 25/04/2021 10:56

Gordongrumpy- thank you for your reply. It echos others around the “white saviour” perception. I expected feedback on evidence around children’s experiences. It’s interesting there’s this prejudice and/ or perception around intention in the mix- but I guess it’s all part of what would be explored by SWs in the assessment process- and it’s important to get it right for a child.
Some assumptions made, however, that’ll be natural with the way I posed my OP.
I will say that I would never assume I’d be a “better parent”.

OP posts:
Ted27 · 25/04/2021 13:03

I remember your posts before your stepson came to the UK. I hope he is settling in
It's not at all controversial to suggest it would be easier if your son was mixed heritage.
The visibility of children is one of the reasons why trans racial adoption is rare. Placing a black or minority ethnic child with 2 white parents removes privacy for all concerned.
A dual heritage child with one white parent is far less visible.
I was also told by my son's SW that if his birth mum had been black and his dad white, they wouldn't have allowed the adoption.
@LesMills it sounds like you still intend to persist.
I'd emphasise again that first and foremost you need to want to adopt a child. Yes you should have an open mind, but that includes white children as well.
You should also bear in mind that adoption is a two part process. When it comes to matching, it's highly unlikely that you will be shown profiles for children who are not white.
Transracial adoption is rare for very good reasons, and usually comes about from exceptional circumstances for both the child and adopter and not the deliberate attempt by a white adopter to adopt a child from a different ethnicity.
I have also experienced hostility from mixed heritage adoptive families.

DesdemonasHanky · 25/04/2021 13:12

You haven't really made it clear why you are so focused on adopting a child of a different ethnicity. That's fine, but you will need to clearly understand your reasons before approaching an agency.

I echo everyone else who says it's about the MATCH. The match of personalities, the match that best benefits the child. I imagine that even if you were approved, you would be at the back of the queue, provided they could match the child to a family of the same ethnicity. As Ted says, this is less the case with a child of dual heritage.

LesMills · 25/04/2021 14:19

@Ted27 No, actually the responses here have impacted on intention to persist.

My responses are around seeking further understanding on hearing this (surprising) perception as I was aware of complexities, however not “white saviour” perception.

Hearing this evoked such sadness that I did not sleep last night. It is quite a perception.

I could say so much from my life experiences, however the candidness of replies (gratefully received) have indicated clearly to me where it’s at. An arena I’ll not enter as never would I want for less than the best for any child.

OP posts:
LesMills · 25/04/2021 14:21

@Ted27 Your post was informative- thank you. Sorry, I didn’t acknowledge that in clarifying.

OP posts:
LesMills · 25/04/2021 14:37

@DesdemonasHanky Thank you for your reply. Yes, I know very clearly, however I didn’t wish to share here. There is realistically a lot around the ‘match’ described but ultimately I know I’m white skinned. My OP was more about getting the top line view of entering the process with that view. Which, I definitely got!

Totally agree regarding the match that best benefits the child.

Thank you again.

OP posts:
Gordongrumpy · 25/04/2021 15:00

OP, are you saying that if you can't adopt a child of a different ethnicity, you won't adopt at all?

Ted27 · 25/04/2021 15:02


so will you pursue adoption at all ?

Hammyhamster92 · 25/04/2021 15:49

Thanks, he's settling, but as I am frequently the one doing school pick up's etc it has been eye openning what people will say to strangers.

Have been asked whether I adopted him by complete strangers several times now, ( I obviously haven't), but very awkward as apparently complete strangers think nothing of saying these things in front of dss. I would never think it appropriate to question strangers on these things !

Italiangreyhound · 26/04/2021 01:26

OP we considered trans racial adoption. We looked at China. It was a very long wait and we explored domestic adoption. During the process we had the chance to put our names forward fir a mixed heritages little girl. We were very keen but not right for her. 7 years ago we adopted our little boy (who is white, like us). I think adoption is brilliant but being open and flexible is fairly essential.

Jellycatspyjamas · 26/04/2021 08:03

@LesMills there are many reasons why trans racial adoption isn’t considered ideal and tends to be unusual in the U.K. There’s the white saviour concept others have mentioned, along with the removal of privacy from all of the adoptive family. There are also issues that, while you can read up and research, you won’t be able to fully understand. For example your experience of the world as a white person will be very different to the experience your child has in terms of structural and societal racism, teaching a child how to live with the daily impact of something you don’t experience (and so may be blind to) is going to be tricky at best. There’s also raising a child to have a sense of cultural identity, eg if you have a child from south east Asia, how do you form appropriate cultural links, that fit with the child and their circumstances and lived experience.

It’s not as simple as being rejected because you’re white, go into the process with an open mind, thinking of the child that might be right for you, and that you would be the right parent for.

Hammyhamster92 · 26/04/2021 12:17

Also another point OP, do you live in a culturally mixed/ diverse area at all. We don't, and I think DSS really struggles being the only black kid in class.

Allington · 27/04/2021 08:20

Another trans-racial adopter here - to say that yes, race matters.

I don't think it should be a complete bar, and I think (hope Smile ) my DDs would agree. I was the best of an otherwise bad set of options, and have been able to give them the love and care they need to flourish.

BUT, there were gaps in what I could provide. In their case the gaps were fewer than staying in care or returning to birth family, which is what made me the best option. I was very intentional about choosing housing, schools, church, activities etc that reflected their heritage rather than my comfort or convenience.

I think the only way to 'do' adoption is to consider each potential match as a whole (from the perspective of the child's needs), and race is one part of the whole.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep · 12/05/2021 10:38

There is a huge difference between saying 'I would adopt a child of any race or ethnicity and do my best to meet their needs' and 'I want to adopt a minority ethnic child'
Do you see?

littlebite · 15/05/2021 14:49

I'm mixed race (raised with my siblings by our birth parents)

Any white person living in the Uk who wants to adopt brown babies only is a massive red flag to me.

Any white person who has no idea why I think like that, and thinks race doesn't matter in 2021 clearly doesn't have a clue and again is another red flag.

I would hope you would be turned down by social workers, that might sound harsh but you lack awareness.

Birminghambloke · 15/05/2021 18:08

did the OP say she “wanted to adopt brown babies only”? You know nothing about the OP’s awareness. It reads as a straightforward question, with responses then provided. We know nothing of her background, beyond her skin colour.
@Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep I hope OP is still reading as this is a good way to phrase things.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.