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Answering the difficult questions
Posted: 30 September 2009 05:27 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

Our son is almost 5, he is African American and my husband and I are Caucasian.  Recently he has started saying that he wants to be white and that he doesn’t like being brown.  We have over and over again told him that his skin is beautiful and he is so lucky to be brown.  We have also shown him a picture of his birth mom so that he sees why he is brown.  Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to answer the difficult questions brought up by preschoolers?

Posted: 01 October 2009 04:11 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  3

I am glad to see your question. Our oldest son, Sam, is 5 and we have not yet come upon this question. My husband and I are caucasian, and Sam is biracial Latino/Caucasian. One time before starting at a new school, he expressed anxiety that he would not have any friends because “none of the other kids would be brown.” It turned out that several of the kids were brown and he made friends without apparent preference of skin color.

I’m not sure how we’ll answer when an insecurity like this comes up again. So far, we have tried to talk about how each of us looks and that this is how God made us. There is plenty of difference to go around in our family (curly/straight; white/brown; eyes of blue/green/brown) and so far it seems normal to them.

I’ll watch this conversation with interest!

Posted: 05 October 2009 03:30 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  5

My daughter also used to say that she wanted to be white.  (She is African-American; my husband and I are white).  It was so upsetting!  Our adoption agency assured us that it was normal developmentally for her to be saying that and it was not a rejection of her race.  In my daughter’s case, it was more a statement that she wanted to be like us and also a recognition that if we looked alike, the fact that she joined our family by adoption would not be so apparent.  I don’t know whether it was the right thing to do, but I used to respond by saying, “I know baby, sometimes I wish I had beautiful brown skin like you.”  My daughter is 7 now and hasn’t said that she wants to be white in quite a while.

Posted: 08 October 2009 06:33 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  15

Sweetie Pie—I think wanting to be like his parents is exactly what’s going on. We actually just had a reader write in to our “Ask AF” column with a similar question. You can see the question and an adoption expert’s response here: You might want to continue the discussion with a great kids’ book that celebrates diversity, like Karen Katz’s ‘The Colors of Us’ (

Posted: 19 October 2009 03:52 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  6

We got some great guidance from our agency that seems to have worked well.  This is more difficult in some areas than others depending on the race of your child, but with an AA child I think it should be feasible just about anywhere. Take the time to seek out role models for your child who share his race and, ideally, his gender. You have to choose a Dr. anyway, so take the time to find one and maybe drive a little farther to make a match. Do the same thing with teachers for private lessons, coaches, dentists etc. Whenever I have the option to choose a contact for my child I try to find one who is at least Asian, ideally Korean. It doesn’t guarantee that your child will never have questions or issues about race but it is just something that is always in the background of his life reinforcing his identity.

Posted: 01 January 2010 06:29 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  1

Our daughter is 5 1/2 years old.  She is African-American and we are Caucasian.  When she was five, she also started saying she wanted to be white.  We talked in depth with her about the subject.  We discovered that it didn’t bother her that she looked different from some of her friends.  It bothered her that she didn’t look like us.  So we started playing a game where we try to list as many ways that we are all the same. This seems to make her feel alot better.

Posted: 03 January 2010 12:25 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  7

As a newcomer to these forums I appreciate the insight from people whose children are older than mine.  We have not encountered these types of questions yet, but we do have a children’s book that works well for our family.  It is Rosie’s Family: An adoption story (author Lori Rosove).  The book is about a beagle adopted by schnauzers, who have a biological schnauzer puppy as well.  Rosie, the beagle, asks questions about her adoption and why she doesn’t look like the rest of the family. 

Just as Eileen mentioned, one of the things noted in the book is discussing the ways that everyone in their family is similar.  The book also points out that lots of families they know are different from the norm for various reasons (ie - single parent home, interracial parents, etc.).

I realize it’s a children’s book about dogs, but so far it has been an easy way to introduce big topics to the children without seeming like we are trying to teach a life lesson.  And having grandparents or other adults read the book to this kids is a good way to nonchalantly bring up adoption-related topics and language to them.

Lansing Adoptive Families Examiner:

Posted: 18 January 2010 12:00 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  2

My son turned 5 yesterday.  He has been saying a lot more lately about being “chocolate” when he is in a group of “vanilla” people.  Here’s the thing: we live in West Africa in his home country.  My husband, daughter (also adopted) and I are the minorities. He is in the majority except in our home.  We live so much differently than the Africans around us that it is hard for him to relate to them as well as he does with us and other missionary families.  The country we live in is a poor country and many kids don’t go to school, aren’t vaccinated and many times are under nourished and have poor medical care. Add to that - our son doesn’t speak much of the local lanuguage.  He is learning some language but doesn’t seem very motivated. My husband and I do speak some of the local languages and encourage both kids to do the same.  When we return to the states for our next furlough (he will be 6 1/2) we will be very intentional about being around other AA families. We want Ethan to have exposure to people who look like him, talk like him…etc.

Posted: 01 February 2010 03:21 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  9

We have 5 children through adoption, their ages are 4,3,2,1, and 1 month. In our household it has always been Mom that is different because I have blue eyes and everyone else has brown, we have always pointed out similarities. Recently my oldest started Preschool. One day she came home and told me she didn’t want to go back to school. It took me awhile to get it out of her but she told us that kids were calling her “dirty” or “mud”. I of course was outraged by this, but my husband calmed me down. We talked to her teacher and about how we could help the children understand in her class. Being an educator I am always happy to teach through books and could help out in that area. A GREAT book I couldn’t live without is Shades of Black. The main sentence in this book is, I am Black, I am Unique. We have read it to all of our children and they are so excited to see themselves in a book, reflected by different colors! My oldest also loves Mem Fox’s Whoever You Are. It talks about ALL skin colors!