How to Honor Your Adopted Child’s Ethnic Culture
Eighty-four percent of international adoptions and 28% of domestic adoptions involve children joining families of another race or ethnic group. In any cross-cultural adoption, it’s important to find ways to honor a child’s heritage. These tips can help your child stay connected to his or her past and avoid a traumatic loss of identity.
Stay Educated on Cultural Topics
As soon as you start considering transracial adoption, you also need to start doing your research. As an adoptive parent, it’s your duty to learn about your child’s culture. Read books about the area, learn about its history online and try to meet people with a similar background. Strive to learn about the child’s holidays, foods, clothing, language, traditions and cultural attitudes. If possible, ask the child, or his or her biological family, about his or her culture.
Even though you can never know what it’s like to grow up in that culture, you can still obtain valuable information that can help your child later. As your child grows up, he or she will most likely have questions about his or her culture. Being educated ensures that your child can trust you to give him or her the right answers.
Encourage the Whole Family to Participate
If your adopted child is taking Chinese lessons while his or her other siblings are at soccer, he or she can end up feeling isolated. To keep your child from feeling singled out, try to get the whole family to participate. Doing things like making time to celebrate holidays, adding traditional foods to everyday dinners or watching foreign television shows can help your child feel a sense of pride and security in his or her heritage.
Try to include cultural traditions in day-to-day life instead of making them into occasional events. Incorporating these customs into your life can be very enriching for you as well. Embracing more traditions in your family can add variety and educational opportunities to your daily life.
Provide Opportunities to Socialize With People From Similar Backgrounds
All the fun celebrations with family at home cannot entirely make up for the sense of community your child may have lost. Making sure he or she can take part in activities with people who look like him or her and have similar memories can help your child feel more connected.
Try to look for cultural festivals, after-school programs or community events in your area. You may want to see if you can arrange playdates with children of a similar background as well. If your New Jersey adoption attorney helped you arrange an open adoption, it can be helpful to schedule meetings with the child’s biological parents or relatives. Having more representation of his or her culture helps your child stay connected to his or her heritage.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Cultural Experiences
Though many cross-cultural adoptees report feeling like their parents prevented them from connecting with their culture, there are also plenty of other people who report resentment at being forced to take part in cultural activities. Especially if a child was adopted young or removed from a traumatic situation, he or she may not want to spend a lot of time thinking about his or her cultural heritage.
Celebrating an unusual holiday or eating exotic food can make a child feel further isolated or differentiated. If your child expresses these feelings, it’s important to acknowledge and accept them. Always allow your child’s unique preferences guide interactions, and let him or her know you are willing to help him or her connect with his or her culture if a different decision is made later.
For more ways to help the adoption process go smoothly, turn to Cofsky & Zeidman. Our New Jersey adoption attorney team is here to assist you with things like creating an open adoption agreement or filling out the right documents for an international adoption. We’ve helped families throughout the Haddonfield and Woodbury areas through the process of adoption. Learn more about our services by calling (856) 429-5005 or filling out our contact form.