how much your experiences as a transracial adoptee may have been changed for the better with a more supportive family environment?

A parent recently asked this on one of my other projects.  Personally, I’m all for domestic foster care.  I think the question is really about where do the scales tip when balancing race with foster to adopt scenarios?

I am a well-educated Caucasian parent of three young biological children. I would like to have one more child, but for various reasons, I should not (and will not) go through another pregnancy. My husband and I have started thinking about becoming a fostadopt family. Through those classes – we have just started the process – I have been introduced to the idea of transracial adoption. I stumbled upon your blog via Google. I’m intrigued by the threads I have read regarding transracial adoption here. I have a lot to think about. My question is how much your experiences as a transracial adoptee may have been changed for the better with a more supportive family environment? It’s pure speculation, and perhaps a futile exercise. Regardless, I am curious. As a potential adoptive parent bringing a child out of foster care, I don’t care what the child looks like (race), although I understand that superficial looks (race) has a strong impact on sense of self for all of us. I’m very interested in your thoughts. Thank you.

Transracial adoptees, how do you feel about domestic transracial adoption through foster care?

5 thoughts on “how much your experiences as a transracial adoptee may have been changed for the better with a more supportive family environment?

  1. As an elderly adoptee but not a transracial adoptee I was raised by a white woman and a man of colour. If child is likely to remain in foster care then perhaps adoption is better, providing the child’s name is kept and why not guardianship rather than adoption?
    While the potential adopter may not care what a child looks like the child and community certainly will.Being colour-blind is not a good indicator for succesful adoption and a white family will never raise a child of colour to deal with racism.A supportive family environment is one thing an appropriate one is far harder to find.
    I suggest the questioner concentrates on raising the 3 biological children well and calling it a day on adoption.

  2. Well, for one thing, my experiences were not as bad as others’. I was well cared for and, in general, I was loved – as best as the people who adopted me knew how to — which had a lot to be desired, but which I do recognize their efforts. It was confusing to have one twisted parent, but it in no way changes my opinion of international adoption or being transracial.

    In addition, many domestic foster children will not have fared as well as I did. They may have suffered violence or assaults on their self esteem or worse and their pain will be very fresh. They will be angry, remote and/or sensitive as a result of the changes they must endure.

    Personally, I think color matching is better for the child. I realize there is a shortage of matching foster parents – but that only confirms that race is a societal issue and being in a position to foster or adopt is still a realm of white privilege. People forget that, assuming you’re in America or Canada, it’s not just about skin color. People of color have their own unique hybrid cultures, and you won’t be able to help the children with that.

    I have spoken to many adoptees who grew up in foster care and it was rarely a good experience for them. I have also spoken to bio children who grew up with foster kids and they were also traumatized. I have not spoken with foster parents.

    I AM more in favor of foster to adopt than I am of just fostering or just adopting because I believe taking any child in should be a full commitment, that a child should never be forced to be joined to a forever family they may not even like, much less love, and that it should be up to the child whether or not they want to be adopted. Adoption should be based on relationship. Not dictated.

    I have known black adoptees who were raised by white families. I’ve no doubt they had more opportunities than had they stayed in an institution. I also know adoptees who have stayed in institutions and seen both sides. There is solidarity in institutions, and they aren’t always terrible places. In private homes you are subject to the whims of individuals. Yet I also know that their confusion and inability to connect naturally with their own race was a serious serious handicap for them. Serious. Crisis-inducing. Handicap.

    Just like with international adoption, I believe in strengthening local communities. Until people of color are truly equal, there will be more destroyed families of color and therefore less families able to be in a position to be foster families for those children. Adoption does not fix this system, it only exploits it. I don’t think dealing with the micro while having blinders on to the macro is a contribution to anything.

    I guess like the last question I responded to, I would ask if there aren’t new ways for you to find fulfillment, ways that benefit not only yourself but society at large. Maybe you could try volunteering at a group home or volunteer to be a Big sister to a child who’s family is in crisis. You can touch people’s lives and be touched as well, without altering their identity or access to their culture.

  3. I went through the domestic foster care system at least twice before I was adopted by my family. I don’t think that it matters how supportive the final adoptive family is, but rather what the child has been through before that.

    No one can truly understand what is going on in another’s mind and it is even more difficult with a child who has had any trauma and then tenfold more difficult when that child has had trauma through foster care and is transracial.

    It’s a hugely complicated process for everyone involved.

    Thus, again, I don’t think it matters how supportive the final family is – there’s so much more to consider…

  4. As a transracial adoptee who was raised and grew up in the sixties in Great Britain before multiculturalism had developed so idea about mother tongue, cultural displacement had not entered the vocabulary yet. My life was not without it’s happy moments but was full of racism, bullying and physical abuse. What didn’t help was the fact that my AP parents refused to talk to me about the fact that I had been adopted. In fact, especially my AM would get enraged if I brought up the subject of either adoption or anything to do with being Chinese. (My AP where Caucasian) In some senses I can understand why they were Parents of a particular time, post war, very traditional. They were not trained or given any support as far as I can see on the side of identity or race – because I suspect at that time they didn’t think that a Chinese child being brought up in a white family was problematic.
    I have spent, many, many, many years coming to terms with the loss of my racial identity so… It is something that has to be thought on deeply and the prospective AP have to be willing to soak up as much information and knowledge of the child’s culture and language. I still think that even today certain APs think that it is enough for them to come together with other APs who have transracially adopted and sing songs and observe the usual cultural festivals. It’s a start but it is not enough for the child if you are truly sincere in maintaining that cultural, racial and emotional bond

  5. I appreciate this question a lot, because I think it allows us to separate foster care from adoption, when the two are often conflated. It would be interesting to see a systemic shift in attitude toward foster care in the U.S. and other Anglo-Saxon societies. By that I mean to say that the idea of foster care—communally caring for children on behalf of other families—should not be compared to that of adoption—individual removal of children from their familial environment. It would be interesting to me to see such a shift in focus because it might also do a lot to bridge race and class differences. Of course, this is forbidden within such societies, and so adoption is seen as a “more valid” option. As always, I think the question needs to be framed in terms of this, the bigger picture. And as always, the ones in power to advocate most for this kind of thing—prospective adoptive parents—don’t.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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