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Best school for transracially adopted child

We adopted our daughter when she was 3,after she had lived with us since she was six weeks old. She is now 4 and we are considering what elementary school may be best for her next year. She is biracial- Mexican and Black.We are two white moms, and our family is comfortably upper middle class. We live in Los Angeles.

I would very much like to support our local neighborhood school, which, is becoming stronger under the leadership of a great principle. 98 % of the children at the school are Latino and from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. There are no black children at this school. I am concerned that she will feel like the “only” child of her background at this school.

For this reason, we are also considering a few charters, which are more diverse, with about 10 % African American children, 30% white, 65% Latino, and some Asian students.

My feeling is that with the more diverse profile of these schools, her differences won’t be as significant, since there will be more difference in general.She won’t feel like the only one. However, going to these schools may mean for us that she will have more friends farther away, and less of a connection to our neighborhood community, and for society, less support for public schools.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, as well as related experiences with diverse and non diverse schools that your children have had…


Go for diversity. My kids are both biracial (black and white). We’ve moved three times, and we’ve always tried to find the most diverse school we could. I cannot stress enough how important it is for a child to NOT be the ONLY in her class.

Despite our best efforts, my daughter (who turns 6 this month) is the only black girl in her grade. There were a lot of children of color in her class last year, but many of them left the school. It’s been very disheartening for her. She doesn’t have long blonde hair like her school mates, for example, and this bothers her.

My son is 11. He does have many children of color in his class/grade span. When we were looking for a school the last time we moved, when he was 10, he volunteered that it was very important to him to have other black kids in his class. 

We went for the charters instead of the neighborhood schools. We found friends. My kids still play with the neighborhood kids outside of school, in addition to having their school friends.

Btw, in CA, charters are public schools. Therefore, you’re still supporting public schools if you go to a charter. We did charters in CA, but we actually go to a private school here in NH, because it’s dedicated to teaching and embracing cultural diversity.

Posted by rredhead on Oct 07, 2017 at 3:49am

If your neighborhood school has almost no children of color, the best advice I can offer you is to move.
I’ve heard this argument before, whether to choose a diverse, but poor performing school over a better school with a smaller minority population. Socialization is great, but you can create socialization opportunities far easier than you can correct a deficient education. My rationale has always been that education is the most critical factor to our children’s ability to successfully navigate society.
That said, if at all possible, moving is your best option.
I also have an adult son, and I remember we chose every single home during his childhood based on the available schools, even when we had to live in an apartment instead of a house in order to do so.

Posted by hdctx on Oct 07, 2017 at 6:14am

hdctx had the best answer. My late wife and I adopted two children, one black the other Korean. They went to a Catholic school, and were in the pictures in every flyer the school put out to recruit students. They were the diversity.

I would be very careful with Charter schools. Yes, legally charter schools in Ohio are public schools, but most perform very badly. The Toledo Public Schools run several charter schools, and they are all highly rated. They are also themed schools, maritime, aviation, arts and such.

After our children were grown, and my wife had passed, I discovered a Catholic Church that was the most racially mixed of any church I ever attended, of any faith. Had I known about that we could have moved near there, and had our children in their school.

I have also known a number of black protestant families that put their children in Catholic schools, including my current wife and her late husband. Both her sons graduated from a Catholic college near here, and her daughter graduated from a Catholic college in Cincinnati.

I have known other women who have raised black boys, whose children now will not speak to them. I don’t know how it will work with daughters, but I was a single parent for years and I see problems with my lack of experience in raising daughters alone, and being far from family. Fortunately the high school they went to did have some black students, but also quite a bit of racism among the staff.

So I say go for diversity where ever you can, and make sure you have it in your friends as well as their playmates. A fully mixed environment is good when ever possible.

Posted by Bob Klahn on Oct 07, 2017 at 8:42pm

Thank you so much for your comments! They do help strengthen my conviction that the more diverse school will be a better choice. Those particular, more diverse charters I mentioned are quite strong so I’m not concerned about that so much.

I just want to play devil’s advocate for a moment.

Our neighborhood school is 98% Latino and our daughter is biracial- Latina and Black. So, while the school is not diverse, it is filled with children of color and filled with children who share her ethnic background, partly. Many of them may be different from her in many ways, for example, being raised in more economically disadvantaged backgrounds, speaking Spanish at home, etc…

Does that information change your thoughts on the best spot for her, or would that lead you to consider the neighborhood school, or would you still vote for diversity above all else?

The reason I am considering this so carefully is partly that there is a movement brewing among my neighbors to strengthen the school by sending our children there and becoming involved in the school.

Posted by zoe79 on Oct 08, 2017 at 4:03am

Bob, charter schools in Ohio are run VERY differently than charter schools in California. Most of the charters in California out-perform traditional public schools. I know this from having many conversations with Ohio and Michigan friends about charters. I’m a HUGE proponent of charter schools, as they are run in CA.

zoe79, you didn’t say anything about one school being stronger, educationally, than any other, so I just assumed the educations would be relatively equal. Being black and Latino is not the same as being Latino. If I had the choice, all other things being equal, I would choose the more diverse school, especially if I could be sure that there were plenty of representatives of multiracial children.

Posted by rredhead on Oct 12, 2017 at 11:25pm

Zoe, in addition to a diverse (and academically challenging) school, there are other opportunities to help your child “belong” Our Black daughter and her biracial sister both participate in competitive gymnastics. The teams are diverse, and being part of that close knit group has been quite beneficial to both of them. Our other three children are Hispanic. One is involved in Karate, one in soccer, and the third is an accomplished artist and takes lessons at a local, diverse art center. And we chose a church with a diverse congregation.
Before we accepted our first foster placement, we shopped around and found a diverse neighborhood with excellent neighborhood schools. A successful multiracial family takes conscious fearless thought, and a lot of work that stops being work after a few years. You’re doing the right thing.
Bob, you mention women you know who’s adopted sons had stopped speaking to them. Can you clarify why?

Posted by hdctx on Dec 06, 2017 at 12:41am

Hi Zoe79, go for diversity absolutely! Like you, I am a white mom, comfortably upper middle class, living in Los Angeles. My daughter is Latina. For kindergarten, I chose the neighborhood school, which was 85% Latino kids from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and 15% a mix of Korean and other Asian. My daughter was in a dual language Spanish program with all Latino kids in her classroom. There were no biracial families in the school. My daughter felt extremely uncomfortable at that school because no FAMILY looked like ours and she got constant questions from classmates who were not used to seeing biracial families, adoptive families or any alternative type of family. Also two moms are very uncommon in a mostly Latino school. I speak Spanish well but had trouble making friends with parents. The socioeconomic divide will be there as a difference, too, even if you wish it wasn’t.
In the middle of first grade we switched to a highly diverse school (also dual language) and my daughter sighed a breath of relief. At this school (she is now in 5th grade) there is every type of family, biracial, multiracial, adoptive, two moms, two dads, etc. and is over 50% Latino. We fit right in, my daugher loves it and has made so many friends…and I hang out with the Latina moms and practice my Spanish.
The only way that I would say to consider your neighborhood school is if the principal can assure you that there would be many new diverse families enrolling in your child’s kindergarten class.

Posted by Sirena on Feb 07, 2018 at 9:16pm

Go with the more diverse school! Your daughter needs to be able to look around her class and school and see people who look like her. They do not need to be her friends. I totally missed this until my multiracial son who identifies as Black got to Kindergarten and I had him in the best all biy’s School in town which had virtually no diversity. We are still trying to recover from my mistake two years later.
Good luck

Posted by Mcgowse on Apr 28, 2018 at 10:17pm

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