Transracial adoptees can often struggle with their racial identity as they may align with – the race and ethnicity they were born into, as well as the race and ethnicity which they’re adopted into. Often transracial adoptees are seen as too much of the other race. For example, they may be viewed as more of the race or ethnicity they were born into, or more of the race or ethnicity they were adopted into. This leads transracial adoptees to feel as though they don’t belong in either culture, as though they’re stuck in the middle. One of the responsibilities for parents in raising a transracial adoptee is assisting them in positive self-identity. For parents to assist their child in gaining a sense of positive self-identity, there are a few steps that can be taken.
It’s important for parents to become aware of discrimination that may be present if their child is of a minority culture. After becoming aware, it’s important to understand how these affect their child through their daily lives. Parents should learn about how their child has seen or experienced discrimination within their culture and how this is affecting their child. Listen to what they have to say, and allow for open and free discussion. It’s also important for parents to believe what their child is saying.
Another way parents can support a positive self-identity is by advocating for their child. Advocate on behalf of positive educational, religious, and social opportunities. These opportunities should be inclusive, respectful, and sensitive to cultural diversity. Advocate for the safety and well-being in all aspects of life. Parents can also teach their child how to be safe when they become an adult. This ties back into learning about how people in minority groups are treated. For example, when becoming of age to drive, parents might need to teach their child to do certain precautions if pulled over by a cop. A parent might also need to teach their child how to be safe if being followed by employees while shopping.
Parents can also show their child leaders of their cultural community. These leaders can be both current and historical. Encourage children to learn about the accomplishments these leaders have done. Find articles, documentaries/movies, and books about these leaders. If possible, parents can create an opportunity for their child to meet and spend some time with these leaders. Along with this, it’s also important for parents to spend time educating their child about their culture’s history and taking part in their cultural community. Spend time enjoying food, art, music, and religion from the child’s minority culture.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW