Posts Tagged ‘transracial adoption’

Admitting Hard Realities and Holding Difficult Conversations

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 @ 07:05 PM
Author: admin

Admitting Hard Realities and Holding Difficult ConversationsThose of us touched by adoption understand what it is like to feel “othered” or different. Many of us have adopted transracially and therefore, have a particular interest in ensuring equality for all. We get a closer look at the impact of racism, bias, micro-aggressions, and invalidation that happen to our families. Current events awaken us to the tragic inequities and actual dangers which threaten our kids. We recognize another sad but very real truth:, our children experience a more intimate relationship with the consequences of racism when they are outside of the sheltering protection of being with their white families.

We want to support, prepare and protect our children. To do that, we need to know what is happening in their lives and we need to talk about it. Yet for a variety of reasons, they may not be entirely forthcoming about the challenges they face in this arena. Perhaps it makes the ugliness too real. Perhaps, they want to forestall our worrying, perhaps they feel diminished by even giving the topic voice, perhaps they fear we won’t “get” it–some, or all of these factors may be true.

It is absolutely essential that we have the difficult conversation, talk about the dangers, the unfairness, the cruelty and the small-mindedness that drive bigotry. We cannot afford to wait for our kids to raise the subject. It’s too vital and too dangerous to postpone or ignore. Yet, as parents, we know how notoriously difficult it can be to get kids to open up. So, what can we do?

Our children are products of the internet era. Why not

Use kids’ preference for, & comfort with, all things tech? Suggest watching this video together (Hey, I saw this on Facebook and wondered what you thought of it?) Then talk about it. 

Click To Tweet

Read this companion article by Erin Canty who “grew up black in a very white neighborhood in a very white city in a very white state.” Erin says it captures her experience quite well. Titled, 7 Things Black People Want Their Well-meaning White Friends to Know to Know posted on UpWorthy. I don’t know if she is an adoptee. Perhaps she is. Perhaps she isn’t. However, her post is very relevant in any racially-diverse family whether formed through biology or adoption.

Transracial Adoption: Life Under the Microscope

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 @ 05:02 PM
Author: admin
Mariette Williams.Screen ShotGuest writer, blogger, transracial adoptee, Mariette Williams wrote this week’s GIFT blog. Mariette lives in South Florida with her husband and two children. She writes about adoption and focuses specifically on the Haitian adoptee community. To learn more, visit her homepage at or follow her on twitter @mariettewrites.


Being outspoken about my adoption is pretty new. For a while, I pushed it to the back of my mind. Growing up, It wasn’t something I could avoid.


When we were out, strangers would see our family and could not resist asking questions. My dad wouldn’t waste an opportunity to whip out his wallet, show off our school pictures, and tell them about our adoptions. His eyes would tear up every time he spoke about us. He was a proud father, but sometimes I wanted to be able to go about my life unnoticed. I wanted to fly under the radar and be normal like everyone else. Adoption, especially transracial adoption, can sometimes put your family under the microscope. People just want to know things. They want to ask questions. I understand the curiosity, and if the roles were reversed, I’d probably ask questions too. But I now know what it’s like to be on the other end of the questions.

When I left Canada to attend college in Florida,  I never brought my adoption up to people I met.  I eventually told just a few close friends, but no one else really knew. I welcomed the anonymity and the chance to be “normal.” Living in Florida, no one assumed I was adopted or asked where I was from. I remember telling my sister that I didn’t tell some of my co-workers that I was adopted for several years. I remember her being incredulous, “You really didn’t say anything for three years?” she laughed. It seemed funny to her because it was such a part of our growing up. We had an everyday reminder that were different from everyone else.When I casually mentioned it to my co-workers during a conversation about our childhoods, they had questions, but I didn’t mind. After that conversation, I realized that I felt okay talking about it. Towards the end of that year, I decided to start a blog about adoption. At first it was strange to talk about my adoption so publicly, because for a long time I didn’t want anything to do with it. For several years, I took it off like a coat and hung it in the back of my closet. But as a grew older, I was ready to wear it again. My adoption story is me, and I’m no longer interested in hiding it.

I now see my adoption story as a way to connect with others.
For a year, I shared my stories and other adoption stories on, and I found that I wasn’t alone in my feelings. By putting my adoption out there, I was able to help others struggling with their feelings of loss or identity. But I believe in timing. Today I’m married with two children, which has helped me become more confident in who I am. I have my own family, and I’ve put down roots, which has contributed to my sense of security. I am no longer just an adoptee, but a wife and mother. Many adoptees are excited to share their adoption stories, while others are not, and I completely understand both sides. It’s not fair for children to have to explain anything to strangers, and it’s not fair for parents to put their children on the spot. Children should not have to be ambassadors for adoption. Maybe one day they will be outspoken about their adoption. Maybe they won’t. But it should always be their choice.

  Connect with Mariette:                  twitter          website          blog 


White Privilege and Transracially Adopted Families: Advocating for Our Kids

Thursday, March 13, 2014 @ 12:03 AM
Author: admin

Multi ethnic family

Adoptive families—whether they’ve adopted transracially or not—experience being seen as different and sometimes, as “less than” other families. Living as a multicultural family amplifies the obvious differences and the frequency of encountering prejudice.

In multicultural families, it is important that parents not confuse unconditional love with “color blindness” because this can lead us to overlook the realities of their experiences in the world beyond our families.” (We explored “color blindness” in an earlier blog, Adoption Is a We Story.) Although we wish the world would not treat our kids differently/harshly because of their race, prejudice does exist and we must prepare kids to confront it.

What can we do to create change, awareness, and equality? Watch Dr. Joy DeGruy’s video. She’s an African-American woman who talks about the impact of “white privilege” while shopping with her can-pass-as-Caucasian sister-in-law. Notice the dramatic difference their perceived race made in shaping their experience, even for something as routine as grocery shopping. Consider how different Dr. DeGruy’s options were from her sister-in-law’s. Imagine if she had spoken up. How differently would the cashier and the other shoppers have responded?

Thanks to

Imagine you and your transracially child in a similar circumstance. How have you handled it in the past? How will you now approach it? Develop a blueprint for your family. Discuss the issue straightforwardly. Ask your kids how their experiences compare to the one Dr. DeGruy described. Then talk about their feelings, strategies, and concerns. Ask them how you can support them. Listen to your child when he reports an incident of racial bigotry. Consider that he’s probably treated differently when you are present to “vouch” for him than when he is in the world on his own. When your child reports that he’s experienced racial profiling, does it make your gut clench? Do you want to fix it or explain the experience away as a product of their imagination?

Educating your transracially adopted child to walk in a racially aware world may be awkward, messy, and painful. But it is essential. With this video in mind, how will you use “white privilege” to shine a light and blaze a new path to change?

Thanks to Leanna for bringing Dr. DeGruy’s video to our attention

“Split at the Root” or Grafted Securely

Sunday, March 2, 2014 @ 02:03 AM
Author: admin

SPLIT.Split at the Root: a Memoir of Love and Identity, packs a riveting story. Against a lush tropical backdrop, a remarkable story of transracial “adoption” unfolds. As an adoption coach and an adoptive parent, I found her story riveting. It kept me up late into the night. Page after page, the pieces of the truth–the story behind the story– began to connect and fall into place. Tully’s memoir reads like a well-paced mystery played out in lyrical prose, poetic imagery and honest introspective thought. A mesmerizing read for anyone, but especially valuable for anyone connected with adoption.
Tully experienced an amazing blend of rare opportunities. She was raised in luxury, educated and refined to a highly polished, cosmopolitan lustre, and extricated from poverty. In spite of the many material benefits of being loved by her German family, her membership in that family came at an extremely high cost: her identity as a black woman, the richness of her heritage and the security that comes with living among one’s “own” people instead of living in fear and judgment of them. Tully’s life serves as a cautionary tale of adoption: love alone is not enough. Adoptive families must nurture and teach kids to embrace and celebrate their culture, their heritage and their birth families. To do less is to ask children to deny a part of themselves. It is the ultimate Emperor’s New Clothes experience and is a price that is too high for any person to pay.

As adoption professionals, we rely on the courage of adult adoptees to share the reality of their experiences so we may learn how to improve adoption practices. Catana Tully’s memoir offers reassurance that transracially adoptees can and do feel loved by and attached to their families. She felt loved by her Caucasian parents and perceived herself as their “emotional child.” For those of us who choose to adopt outside our own race, her experience encourages and affirms our decision.

At the same time her “adoptive” family’s “color blind” approach to rearing her left her without a secure sense of her identity as a woman of color. Disconnected and disassociated from any sense of being black, she reacted with fear and dislike to her own race. At some unconscious level, this repugnance turned inward and rejected her own blackness and the repeated overtures of her birth mother to sustain a family connection.

Transracial adoptive parents want their children to be happy, to be confident in their racial identity, and to feel securely loved. It is essential, therefore that parent embrace their children’s race, ethnicity, and culture. Make it an integral part of the family identity because the FAMILY becomes a transracial unit through adoption. The experience is not limited just to the child. The family must develop a sense of who they are collectively, not by denying or favoring one race, but by respecting and embracing their entire racial rainbow.

An important lesson which Catana Tully’s memoir offers is not to split our children at the root but to graft them securely to their new family and to allow them to bloom as themselves not as some race-free caricature. The family tree becomes more beautiful because it bears several varieties of fruit!