Transracial Adoption




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March 2019   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Transracial Adoption

Transracial adoption refers to placing a child who is of one race or ethnic group with adoptive parents of another race or ethnic group. A study published by the Institute for Family Studies found that 44 percent of the adopted children surveyed were adopted by parents of a different race. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of State website, the majority of children adopted into the United States in 2017 came from Central and South America, Africa, and Asia, thus creating transcultural/transracial adoptions. 

Prior to facilitating a transracial adoption, professionals should work with the potential adoptive family to assess their capacity and commitment to honor and incorporate the child/youth’s race/ethnicity/culture within their existing family system, relationships, and community. Adoptive parents should first examine their own racial identity and biases as well as the degree of diversity within their world in order to realistically analyze whether the child would feel comfortable and supported enough to explore their racial and cultural identity. Parents must be willing to make necessary changes to create an emotionally and psychologically safe environment that is culturally appropriate and responsive for the children they wish to parent.  

Transracial adoption forever changes families and requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Prior to placement and throughout the parenting journey, parents who have adopted transracially must commit to deepening their own understanding of different races, cultures, and ethnicities in order to support their child or youth’s exploration of race and culture.  Parents should employ a variety of strategies to support healthy development for themselves and for their child. The following are examples of necessary practices:

  • Understand the development of racial identity and how to proactively engage in conversations about race/ethnicity/culture and discrimination.
  • Develop strategies to help prepare for and handle racism and microaggressions.
  • Create opportunities for the child/youth to create relationships with role models and peers within their own race or culture.
  • Commit to learning as much as possible about a child’s family of origin in order to authentically integrate culturally relevant traditions, holidays, and rituals into daily home life.

As a multicultural family, there will always be new opportunities to engage in learning.  AdoptUSKids provides tips to guide parents through the racial socialization process, which involves providing children/youth with the opportunity to learn about the behaviors, attitudes, and values of their ethnic group of origin and accepting their inclusion within that group. Below you will find resources that provide insight into the perspectives of people who have been transracially adopted.  


3 Resources About Transracial Adoption

"The Personal is the Political: Racial Identity and Racial Justice in Transracial Adoption"

By Kim, J.
Adoptalk, 2018
North American Council
on Adoptable Children


"Transracial Adoptees
on Their Racial Identity and Sense of Self

By NPR Code Switch
[Podcast series] 

"Seeing Color: Why it Matters for Transracial Adoptive Families"


By Dinwoodie, A.
The Imprint: Youth and Family News, 2016


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