Interracial adoptions have been all the rage for a while with celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron that have publically shown their affinity for adopting outside their race. Adoption is not as simple as many people perceive it as. Interracial adoption is a whole other side of it, although thoughtful and with well intentions, it can breed its own issues. Adopting a child outside of one’s race will leave a cultural barrier between the parent(s) and child (American Adoptions, Inc).
Parents should have an understanding and be educated on their child’s race and ethnicity in order to help form that child’s self identity rather than hindering it. Growing up, a child looks at their parents as grounds for security and comfort. Even with animals, likeness from mother to child is what forms a strong bond (Psychology Today, 1). Differences in appearances does break that racial homogenous nuclear family matrix.
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Transracially adopted children, where the adoption of a child is a different race than the adopting parents (American Adoptions, Inc), are almost always at risk for problems with their ethnic identity development because of the appearance barrier that exists between them and their adoptive parents (Social Work). Mistaken identities are also an issue that arises from looking different than the adoptive family. Parents would be exposed to public questions such as if they are babysitting their adopted child, within the sibling dynamic, the adopted child might be seen as a significant other.
This public question causes internal conflict for the child and does not contribute to a positive self-image. This insecure attachments turns into harnesses self doubt within the child. (Psychology Today) biological children never have to deal with this issue, feeling the need to validate one’s being through physical differences. As stated before, celebrities have adopted interracially with good intentions, as so the rest of interracial adoptions. The problem with this is, any parents can be ill-prepared to deal with the cultural differences that arises from this.
Parents may try to incorporate their child’s heritage into their lives, but there is only so much one can do if there are extremely different cultures at hand. Many transracial adoptions consist of white parents with a black child (New York Times). There is cultural significance with a black child and understanding their hair and learning to style and care for their hair texture, and there is a huge connection between hair and one’s identity in Black culture, especially within females (C R Research).
This is a barrier to many white parents because not only are they most likely not educated on caring for African American hair, but frustration can be a by product of this which in turn also affects the adopted child and causes a racial disconnect. Racial disconnect can also stem from a “color-blind” attitude that some adoptive families have pick up as a means to cope with the ethnic differences from their non-biological child.
Adopting a color blind attitude is just as detrimental to a child’s ethnic and self- identity as not being educated (Adoptive Families). This disconnect is what contributes to to a stand still in the development of the child’s social identity as well (Social Work). If a child is taught to “not see color”, then confusion starts when they are integrate with other children who were not taught that same mindset, and who in turn adds confusion to the adopted child on who they actually are if color is indeed a variable. Interracial adoption is one of the most regarding things a family can do: providing a child with a home and love that they were not exposed to or able to have before. Although this all comes from a heart full of well- meaning, it is hard to avoid the harm that follows.
The best thing a family can do to prevent this, is to be very well educated not only on the child but on their culture, ethnic values of said culture and to basically assimilate themselves within that culture the same way the family is trying to assimilate their transracially adopted child into their life.
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