Deciding if a Transracial Adoption Is Right for You
If you’ve decided that adoption is right for you, perhaps you are now narrowing down the specifics of the child you would like to welcome into your family. In addition to deciding on age, gender, and whether the adoption will be domestic or international, you’ll want to think of the issue of race. Prospective adoptive parents are increasingly considering adopting a child of a race different from their own; in fact, in the last 20 years, transracial adoption has increased by 50 percent and is now much more common than it once was.
Think Carefully About These Issues When Considering a Transracial Adoption
You’ve likely already examined many of the facets of adoption, including how you’re going to make an adopted child feel like she or he belongs. However, transracial adoptions bring up additional concerns you should explore. You know you want to give a child you adopt a stable, nurturing environment, but you should also ask yourself the following questions:
- How inclined are you to ensure your child has contact with members of their own ethnicity and culture? If you live in a community where your child will not see her skin color or appearance mirrored, are you willing to change schools or even move to a place that’s more diverse?
- How willing are you to confront people who may make inappropriate remarks, over and above those many adopted children already hear about not looking like the rest of their family?
- Are you willing to stand up to racist people, including friends, family, and co-workers, who may display anything from subtly negative attitudes to out-and-out aggression?
- Do you have friends of the same ethnicity as the child you’re thinking of adopting? If the answer is no, are you willing to at least start attending cultural events, familiarize yourself with a new language, or eat and cook the foods of your adopted child’s culture?
Are Transracial Adoptions Handled Differently?
The fact that the adoption will be transracial doesn’t affect most parts of the adoption process. You will still need to choose a type of adoption, select a PA adoption attorney to assist you, consider how you will pay for adoption expenses, and go through a home study.
However, if it’s a domestic adoption, there is one respect in which it may be affected by the fact that it is transracial. A federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act specifies that certain requirements be met if a child who is eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe is going to be adopted by a non-Native family. The child’s tribe must give consent. The law was enacted in 1978 when many Indian children were being removed from Indian homes and placed in foster care or with parents who weren’t Indian. You would have to be sure you are complying with any conditions specified by the ICWA in order to adopt a child of Native American heritage. Your PA adoption attorney can advise you in more depth about adoption and the ICWA.
It’s fairly common for international adoptions to be transracial. You will, of course, have to comply with the requirements of the country in question, and those do vary quite a bit from one nation to another.
What to Look for in an Adoption Agency
In addition to checking to see if an adoption agency is duly licensed and approved by the state, parents should inquire to see what experience the agency may have with transracial adoptions. If they’ve handled this type of adoption before, they will often be able to guide parents to counselors or resources oriented toward raising multiracial families, including support groups or references to grown transracial adoptees.
Giving a child a home is enormously rewarding, and a transracial adoption is one way to create or add to a family. If you’re interested in an appointment with attorney Donald C. Cofsky to explore your adoption options, call our law office in Philadelphia at (215) 563-2150.