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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Why race matters for the transracially adopted child

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Adoptive Families Magazine online featured an article in their Circle forum by Jane Brown, an adoptive parent well known for her workshops for adoptive families, on why race matters for a transracially adopted child.

In many ways the article was actually a lesson in why race matters for transracial adoptive parents. There are many adoptive parents who adopt a child across racial, ethnic or cultural lines who do not believe that race matters, and who believe a "colorblind" mentality is the appropriate approach.

Brown suggests that a color-blind approach may be well-intended but ultimately does not serve the child. Since society still discriminates against people of color, parents who do not prepare their children of color for such discrimination sets them up to be unprepared for future discrimination. I found it interesting that there was push-back from some parents (in the comment section). While it is understandable that white adoptive parents may feel threatened by articles about race and privilege, the current research and practice knowledge comes from listening to the lived experiences of transracial adoptees themselves, as Brown makes very clear in her articles.

As Brown writes, regardless of what white adoptive parents think their transracially adopted children experience, the reality

'is that how we, as adoptive parents, see/think/feel/assume is quite different from how THEY see/think/feel/believe. When we repeatedly and vehemently express our views TO them, we dismiss theirs, and they often end up doubting their own experiences. They tend to remain silent. They are very loyal to us, so that they do not wish to disappoint us. They feel less entitled to hold separate and different views because they are children, and we are the powerful adults. They question whether or not their views are valid--given that we tell them to think as we do. All of that, however, does not change how THEY experience race and racial differences."

You can read Brown's article, and the comments following, here.

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