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It’s A Small World: Adopting A Child Of A Different Race Or Culture

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Whether you are leery about the whole conception thing or simply are experiencing difficulty getting PG, adoption is always a wonderful option. It’s one way of helping an already created life, while knowing (almost) exactly what you are getting into. From the sex of the baby the color of its hair and eyes, even its age, all the specifics are in your hands.

More and more people (from Hollywood studs and starlets to your average Joe and Josephine) are not only opting to adopt, but to adopt children from other nations, nationalities, and cultures, and experts cite a variety of reasons for this recurring “trend”.

According to the experts, there are much fewer Caucasian children up for adoption, and some agencies that “do” handle Caucasian adoption, are reluctant to accept single applicants or applicants over 40. Additionally, many couples/people who choose to adopt feel a particular obligation or connection to a specific culture or race, and want to make a difference in that community starting with giving the children a “better” chance. Or, perhaps they feel a special bond due to their ancestry or because of a particular experience or affiliation, such as military service.

Adoption officials, while noting the benefits of adoption, have varying viewpoints and opinions regarding transracial and transcultural adoption. Some suggest that children up for adoption should (ideally) be placed in a home and environment with at least one parent of the same race and culture, one they can identify with. They also recommend thoroughly analyzing the reasons behind wanting to adopt a transracial and/or transcultural child and make sure your intentions are altruistic. Additionally, they propose evaluating your (true) feelings (past or present) regarding a particular group of people, race, culture, etc., in order to ensure that your decision is the right one for YOU (and for the right reasons), and to prepare you for some potential pressures with being considered “different”.

Experts emphasize that when you cross cultures in adoption, it is not only the child who will be “different, but your whole family that will become different. While some individuals can easily embrace difference and effectively deal with it, others may simply feel “uncomfortable” with difference and may actually feel stressed and overwhelmed by it. They remind those who are considering transracial/transcultural adoption of the potential adversity you may face even from (ambivalent and scared) family and friends. Use the pre-adoption phase to decide how you will deal with such “negativity” and how you’ll be able to protect your child from it.

Very young children, they say, may benefit from a simple hug, extra attention and a long heart to heart talk. But, as your child grows and matures, other coping mechanisms (in addition to, not in place of) hugs and communication, will be necessary.

Lifestyle Logistics:

Prior to making such a life altering commitment, experts suggest examining not only your current belief and value system, but also your lifestyle. They recommend taking into consideration a variety of “lifestyle” factors, including the type of neighborhood you live in. Is your area multicultural or not? If not, are you willing to move, for the sake of your child? Do you have friends of various races and cultural backgrounds? Are you well versed in the traditions of the culture from which you expect to adopt from? Do you know of any multicultural sources to expose your child to? Do you enjoy ethnic foods, especially those intrinsic to your child’s heritage?

Furthermore, experts assert that it is imperative for children from another race or cultural background to be exposed to others they can relate to and identify with and revere as role models as they mature. They suggest you ask yourself if you are able to provide such relationships for your child BEFORE adopting him or her.

The More The Merrier:

Experts recommend adopting more than one child from the same culture, especially children who are siblings. They note that siblings who are adopted together feel a (greater) sense of security, simply by seeing and being around another person in the family who looks like them. Additionally, they are able to cling to a part of their history which is also instrumental in helping them adjust better….not to mention that keeping the family together is not only psychologically beneficial, but culturally advantageous, as the kids and keep their native language and maybe even teach you a word or two.


Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > It’s A Small World: Adopting A Child Of A Different Race Or Culture

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