We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Asking Yourself the Tough Questions

Being a transracial family is both extremely rewarding and also challenging. I believe that our family is blessed by our diversity. Through learning about our adoptive children's culture we have come to learn about ourselves and our world in new ways. Our son has developed a acceptance and compassion for others that is rare in most boys his age. Most importantly though our daughter is thriving. She has a zest for life that I seldom see in other children. Every new experience to her is savored and celebrated with pure excitement. Every once in awhile there are challenges as well. Some I was prepared for before our adoption and some I have experienced along the way. And so as we excitedly wait for our referral from Rwanda I am challenging myself to again ask the tough questions. Most of these issues we have not had to face, at least not yet, and it will depend on where you live. But one thing I have learned in the last 2 years is that challenges will come up whether you are prepared for them or not. If you are reading this because you are also in the process of becoming a transracial family, I challenge you as well to be prepared for the tough stuff.

1. Are you comfortable with people staring at you?
2. How will you respond when someone says a racial comment or joke in the presence of your child?
3. What will you say when someone challenges or questions in a negative way your adoption from a African country?
4. What is the appropriate response when someone comments, on how difficult it must be to take care of your daughter's hair and she is standing right beside you?
5. How will you respond when a complete stranger asks about your child's birth family?
6. How will you respond when a complete stranger asks how much your adoption cost and your adopted child is standing there?
7. What if someone (maybe the school nurse) asks if your child has HIV when they find out they are adopted from a African country?
8. How will you deal with it when your child's teacher asks them to bring baby pictures to school and your older adopted child does not have one?
9. What will you tell your child when they ask why are you white and they are brown/black/chocolate?
10. What will you tell your child to say when other kids ask him/her why he/she is a different color then his/her parents?
11. How will you support your child if they tell you that other kids at school (a mostly white school) are calling them names?
12. Do you understand what "White Privilege" means in modern America?
13. Have you accepted that in reality you cannot be "color blind" because other people will see the color of your family whether you like it or not.
14. How will you teach your adolescent, especially your male teenager who may look much older, about the safety issues specific to African Americans? (How to respond to police officers, How to approach others at night for help when your car stalls, etc.)
15. How will you teach your children about their birth country's culture as well as African American culture and history?
16. Are you comfortable going to African American events and you being the minority?
17. Have you cooked African and African American food?
18. Do you know how to care for your child's hair, skin, and special nutrition needs?
19. Do you understand the depth of grief that your child may someday experience and how will you help them and yourself through this?
20. Are you prepared for your adolescent or young adult to maybe someday reject you because of your own color and culture?

For some thought provoking discussions go to: http://www.antiracistparent.com/
For a list of gracious answers to awkward questions go to: http://library.adoption.com/articles/gracious-answers-to-awkward-questions-about-our-adopted-kids.html
For a list of links with helpful transracial parenting information go to: http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/transracial-parenting.html


  1. Thank you so much for this post. We are just beginning our adoption from Rwanda and these are things I have been thinking about. I appreciate the resources!

  2. Kari,
    Thanks for these links! Kayan and I value your experiences and all of your resources! Here's to your referral coming soon....

  3. Great Post, learning about things such as white privilege is essential for transracial families, although i'm not sure how many do want to learn about such things. We have tried to set up a transracial class at church through Weld county but they don't seem interested, if it's not about attachment they don't seem to care.


  4. Kari,

    Thank you so much. These are just the issues Marc and I are educating ourselves on as we wait. Both he and I experienced some racial profiling/discrimination growing up (me as an Asian in rural MN and he in Abilene TX). I'm so glad to see another family thinking about these issues now. I hope we continue to be a sounding board for each other as we raise our children. We cannot ignore the fact that we are raising (in our case) black males who will be perceived as African American.

    I'm sure you've seen our reading list too.

    Congrats on making it through the first day of school for Tensae! I still find it a little overwhemling (volunteering, forms, meetings) but I'll make it :)