Seeing Color: Why it Matters for Birth Parents and Adoptive Families
A common misconception when it comes to creating a safe environment centered around diversity is to act as if everyone is the same and that the color of their skin doesn’t matter. While the old mindset of “I don’t see color” is well-intentioned, it can be just as damaging as discrimination. For birth mothers and adoptive parents who are in an open adoption situation, acknowledgment, representation, and acceptance are the best things to incorporate into a child’s life when they are a part of transracial open adoption. Adoption Choices of Missouri understands the challenges that come for both birth mothers and adoptive families when deciding to make their home multiracial and have the tools to help them make the child feel safe, seen, and loved.
Suppose you, as the birth mother, decide to place your baby into a home with a family from a different racial or cultural background. In that case, this can make the adoption process even more overwhelming as you are preparing to have your biological child raised in a home of people who don’t share the same background, experiences, or biases in society. This may make you feel doubtful, but acknowledging you and your child’s racial differences right off the bat can open up an educational and impactful conversation that will make you, your child, and the adoptive family more comfortable and confident. While you, as the birth mother, will probably have a lot of questions or concerns, the adoptive family most likely has just as many in return.
Acknowledging the fact that there are clear differences between your child and the adoptive family and how that may impact the child or adoptive family’s future might not be the easiest conversation, but pretending as though the color doesn’t matter will only cause greater obstacles later on. Adoption Choices of Missouri, offers family, group, and individual counseling to work through challenges that arise in transracial adoption and how to make the process less overwhelming for both the birth mother and adoptive family.
Do not feel that you need to completely neglect yourself and your child’s individuality because you are placing your child with a family of different skin color or cultural background. If you are in an open adoption setting, communicate with the adoptive family ahead of time to let them know your experience being a different race, what you think is important for them to know for the child, cultural traditions that they can implement to honor the child’s background, and how to represent the child’s diversity in an appropriate way.
Some adoptive families may have traditions of their own that they want the adoptive child to participate in as they raise them. Working together to create an environment that represents and celebrates both racial and cultural differences will encourage the child to embrace their diversity and not ignore it or feel ashamed of it.
The most significant aspect of being in a transracial adoption is accepting that you will have physical, emotional, spiritual, or societal differences when you come from a different racial or cultural background. Acknowledging, representing, and accepting all of them is the best way to create a loving and healthy multiracial household.
As both the birth mother and adoptive family, before accepting a transracial adoption, ask yourself if you are ready to take on the role of constantly educating yourself, creating a safe environment for your child, having conversations with them about diversity, and are willing to look beyond your own skin color and culture to help the child navigate growing up in a multiracial household. This includes conversations with your own household, family, friends and making sure they will grow up in an environment where they feel seen, loved, and accepted for their differences. Color matters and Adoption Choices of Missouri offers contact information, blogs, counseling, and informational tabs on how to begin the journey and start a conversation for your transracial adoption.
Meet the Author: Allie Nowak is in her senior year of undergrad at Illinois State University studying public relations, with a minor in health & wellness coaching. She is extremely passionate about writing, digital content creating, and all things related to lifestyle & wellness. In her free time, she enjoys serving as editor-in-chief and publishing articles for her university’s chapter of Her Campus, the nation’s largest media platform for college women. You can also find her spending time with friends and family, traveling, reading, and walking her two golden doodles. She currently lives in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago where she was born and raised.