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Adoption Blog: My Paperwork Pregnancies

Transracial Adoptive Families: Would You Move for Your Children?
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"Are you willing to move into a neighborhood where you are in the minority and your child is not?"

That’s the question an adoption counselor who asked my husband, Paul, and I, along with a group of prospective adoptive parents, at an adoption training seminar prior to our first adoption.  If a prospective parent’s gut answer is "yes," then he or she might make a good candidate for transracial adoption, the counselor explained.  Answering "no" may mean transracial adoption isn’t the best fit.  Since Paul and I had already marked on our adoption forms that we were open to adopting transracially, it was a relief that we immediately looked at each other and nodded "yes," after hearing this question.

Jump ahead to Paul and I, both Caucasian, parenting our adopted Hispanic son in a neighborhood we moved into before becoming parents.  It was a lovely location and the local elementary school had some of the state’s best teachers. The problem? The overall population was probably 90 percent Caucasian, and the student body an even higher 95 percent. With that question about our child not being the minority that the adoption counselor asked us a few years before, and our answer to it, in the back of our minds, we knew we had to move. We had just adopted our second child, a Hispanic girl, when we began to house search.  We didn’t want our children to be known as the "brown" ones.

Our city’s Hispanic population is not very large, and it’s concentrated in a very specific location, one that would involve a long commute to Paul’s work and wouldn’t have as good as schools as I’d like for my children.  After researching the different areas that we could live, we realized that it was more important for us to live in an area with diversity, where our children would not be the only "non white" people, than to live in a specifically Hispanic community.  What we needed, we decided, was a neighborhood with people with black hair just like our kids.  So, we began to look at some of the other more diverse neighborhoods nearby (I remembering asking our real estate agent about moving to an area with "black haired kids," and he looked at me like I was nuts), including one with a large Southeast Asian population, with pockets of African American families and a growing Chinese community.  What do all of these minority groups have in common?  They have black hair just like our Hispanic children.

We ended up moving less than a mile away from our old house into a new neighborhood and school district.  By doing so, we are now in a neighborhood which is probably only 60 percent Caucasian.  My son attends an excellent school, which is only 50 percent Caucasian.  Unfortunately, the Hispanic population is still a small percentage of that multi-cultural other half.  But, children with black hair are all over.  Last year, in his Kindergarten class, out of 16 children, only 6 were Caucasian, while the others were Asian Indian, African-American, Chinese,  and two Hispanic.  I loved going into his classroom.  My child did not stick out out at all, but fit it with the other children who would be considered "minority status" elsewhere, but were in the majority here.

So, did we stay true to the adoption counselor’s goal of making sure that we would be comfortable with the challenges and responsibilities of raising children of a different race and ethnic background than ours (such as, perhaps, changing our lives, so our children don’t always have to be the odd ones out)? I’d say, "Kinda."  Paul and I are not in the minority.  My Hispanic children are not in the majority.  But we did move in order to help our children not feel out of place as the only minorities.

Does this mean that everyone who decides to adopt transracially has to follow our lead?  Not at all.  In perfect world we would have moved to a Hispanic community. But, for now, living in a community of many different ethnicities has been the best choice for my family.

So, the question we are ultimately holding ourselves responsible to answering is, "Are you willing to move so that your child is accepted, and not made to feel different for his or her features?” To this Paul and I said, "yes," and I’m thrilled we did.

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Meet the Author

Danielle Pennel

Danielle Pennel

Missouri

I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
U.S. Newborn, U.S. Newborn

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