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Transracial Families

Just found out we got picked

So my wife and I just found out today that a woman that is eight months pregnant picked us to adopt her child. The mother and father are Hispanic and we are Caucasian and I’m just wondering if anybody has any advice of how to deal with what I’m guessing may be some bigotry that comes our way… The mother wants it to be a closed adoption so the be no interaction with her family and ours. We personally do not care if the child was purple our polkadotted. (well maybe if he was striped it would be an issue). I know it’s early to start thinking about all the negatives that may come or may not come but as you can imagine we are freaking out but in a good way and I’m very excited to welcome our son into our family. Any advice would be appreciated thanks


Expand your world. Go to church, restaurants, stores etc that are not all White. Get some professionals on your yteam (dentist, pediatrician, doctor, accountant who are not white) go to tapestry books and buy some books on transracial adoption. There are loads plus many are written from the viewpoint of the adoptee.Look into a neighborhood where the schools are multi cultural. You may ultimately need to move.You may experience some racism as well. Are you ready to tell people at work when they are making racial jokes or comments that you are not listening to that?

Are you raising baby as a bilingual person?

Find out what country they come from and do they want any cultural things preserved (religion, foodsa family name as a middle name) buy some brown dolls (or soldiers or whoever) as well as children’s books that feature non white characters. Also why are they placing? your child will want to know.

You may not be racist but many people will be. They may not say anything about the baby but may not want their children dating yours.

It is difficult to raise a child in a transracial environment but many have. I am sure that people who have done it can chime in.

Best of luck

Posted by Regina on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:05am

I’m sure it depends on where you live but we have a white child and a black child, one adopted and one biological but we’ve never had any blatant,  hurtful experiences. That being said we’re moving and the thought has crossed my mind. Thankfully you have time to kind of figure input before the child remembers it. Think ahead a little how you’ll respond to questions but remember it’s no one’s business but yours.  I’ve always been of the mind set (family, friend or otherwise) that if someone is not supportive they don’t deserve to be apart of your child’s life.  Good luck!

Posted by NavyWife11 on Mar 10, 2018 at 5:31am

Congratulations!  How exciting. We are white, our 5 yo daughter is of Guatemalan heritage. As tbe other responder said we have books toys etc that reflect how she looks. At this point she has no interest and likes the blonde barbies best. But its there when she is ready. We talk about our likeness and differences. I agree that it may depend where you kive. We have not had any encounters id cinsidered racist. It’s not uncommon to be asked “Is she yours?”  and once a perhaps well meaning stranger reported my daughter as possibly a lost child although she was only a few feet away from me at a store. That was weird.  Our daughter is still young but we seek out opportunities to expose her to Spanish language and want her to speak and understand. Actually we feel more judged, not outwardly, but in subtle ways, by strangers of Hispanic heritage, whispering and unfriendly stares at mexican restaurants for example.
Adoption is wonderful and i hope your beautiful boy will bring much to your lives. I think the most i.portant thing you can do is making him feel confident and lived unconditionally and anything else will work itself out.

Posted by on Mar 10, 2018 at 1:17pm

Oh my gosh! I’m so excited for you and your family.  You are about to have the (best) ride of your life! 

First, I don’t think you’re jumping the gun or thinking too early about this AT ALL.  In fact, the earlier the better.  It’s a good thing that this is already on your radar, if for not other reason than you can start making lifestyle choices, purchases, and hopefully even relationships now that will benefit your child in the near and longterm future. 

I would strongly recommend before you do anything else that, if you haven’t already, get a hold of and read closely _Inside Transracial Adoption_ by the AMAZING Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg_. There are a lot of great books out there (when you click on Hall and Steinberg’s at Amazon, they’ll all come up as suggestions).  These books, especially those written (like Roorda’s) from the point of view of the adult adoptee of color raised by white parent(s) are extremely helpful to help sensitize the otherwise well-meaning-not-racist-but-not-still-not-completely-sensitive-to-their-own-white-privilege-or-the-cultural/ethnic/racial-needs-of-a-transracial-adoptee parent.

On that same note, I’m a fan of podcasts and the major ones that are out there (some, again, produced from adult adoptees sharing their own stories) that have really great episodes about the trauma (yes, that’s the right word, sadly….) of a person of color who has been adopted and adopted by white parents. 

You’ll likely learn, as we did, before too long that adult adoptees of color raised by white parents in a “colorblind” culture (parents feel, “we don’t see race, so we’re going to not make a big deal about yours”) run the gamut from no longer talking to their adoptive white parents to suicide.  Of course you and your family probably aren’t in that camp, and my apologies in advance if it sounds like I’m insinuating that - I’m not. Your concern and your shout out to us indicates just the opposite! But just to reiterate how important it is to do all that you can (I would argue its as important as nutrition and safe shelter) to instill pride and awareness of the adoptee’s ethnicity and culture and cultural history, but also to give her/him “cultural competence” to know how to (1) feel “at home” with other Latinos and (2) deal with the certain, inevitable, unavoidable racism that will come her/his way, sadly as early as preschool or K for some children (vis-a-vis ignorant other parents, esp.)

Our amazing and miraculous first and only adopted 8 mo. old daughter is white and african american and while we know she’ll see majority “white is normal” or “white is pretty” cultural icons everywhere she looks *outside* our home (at her friends’ houses, on television, in the books at her school, even her teachers, probably), we have nothing in our home that isn’t African-American representative. There are so many children’s books that feature children of color as the characters (unfortunately not as many for Latinx or Asian or Native kids, let alone disabled kids), and dolls, etc. - - in our house the books and dvds either feature children of color, animals, or are explicitly about adoption. 

Lastly, the greatest gift you could give your child, in terms of cultural and ethnic pride, self-love, and tools to deal with the hatred, ignorance, and bs that surrounds us (now more than ever, as they all feel free to come out of the woodword) is to live in a neighborhood and/or school district where your child’s ethnicity is the majority. This is a hard, for many costly, for many untenable option.  We’re doing it - we’re moving to a nearly all black neighborhood so our daugther (who even though is mixed, will likely identify as black and the world will certainly treat her as black) sees herself represented (more than “here or there”) in her classroom, in our neighborhood, and in our new church.

Last thing: I’m new at this, our daugther isn’t quite 9 mos. old, but I wanted to respectfully disagree with mos123@gmail, and only that last part. mos123, I agree with you completely and I too have already had the weird and rude questions - and I know more are to come! And of course I agree with you when you write about the importance of making one’s child (any, but particulary a child of color raised by white parents) confidence and loved unconditionally. Here, here! But I respectfully disagree about the “anything else will work itself out” part.  I’ve heard horror stories (or read about them, technically) in various books and podcasts, but especially in a trans-racial adoptee/family facebook group in which I merely listen/read to what adult adoptees of color have to say about their backgrounds, trauma, current psychological issues that persist from inadequate “toolbox building” from white parents. And most recently - and this one really worries me - one of my students (I teach college) who is from Latin America and was adopted as an newborn by his white American family. He’s opened up to me about what he’s dealt with, what he still deals with, and every time he tells me (and he tells me often….) about how when he goes to a restuarent, the waiter asks if it’s separate bills, he gets all read, fights back tears, and looks like he wants to punch someone. He’s an extreme case, and certainly it sounds as if his parents didn’t make talking about these issues a big part of his life, but I offer this extension/complication to the previous poster: sometimes confidence and unconditional love also requires hardcore strategies and difficult, consistent discussions with your child, as a family.

Again, congratulations; I’m really happy for you. My husband and I have never known happiness like this and we’ve also never known anxiety like this! (How to do right by her…)  But I guess that’s the lay of the land from here on out!

Posted by WhiteLakeMom on Mar 10, 2018 at 3:24pm

“We personally do not care if the child was purple our polkadotted. (well maybe if he was striped it would be an issue).”

This really sounds very flip, even if you don’t mean it that way. The child will be Hispanic,and not a white non-Hispanic person like you and your wife.
“Hispanic” children can also be/look very white, very black or very indigenous—“La Raza” is the mix of European, Native and black that happened in Latin America.
Equating “Hispanic” with being purple or polka-dotted will not do this child any service.
If you think that you can raise this child as white and equate the ethnic and racial makeup as just being the same as not polka-dotted, you are doing a grave disservice to the child and to your family.

Posted by NoraT on Mar 16, 2018 at 10:42pm


The term “Hispanic” is usually used interchangeably with the term “Latino” in this country, to mean people of Latin American descent.  As NoraT points out, the racial background can be white, black, native, mixed, or some combination.  In fact, there are many people in the Caribbean and S America or Asian descent, too.  This child may or may not look what people think of as Latino or Hispanic.  Even if the child looks of european background, the bigotry can be real, so it is good that you are thinking about it now. 

What is the specific background of the expectant parents?  You may already know this, but Mexican culture is different from Chilean is different from Puerto Rican, there is no “Latin American Culture”; the things that are important culturally, including food and celebrations, depend on the area the bio-parents (or their families) came from.

Posted by jszmom on Mar 18, 2018 at 9:20pm

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