Our society is facing a time of crisis. In the wake of the violent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both of them killed by public servants sworn to protect them, I can’t help but think about transracial adoptive families, especially those raising black children, and how events such as these shape the way we parent. I believe it is safe to say that while the world is not necessarily a safe place, it is significantly more dangerous for people of color. We’re also faced with the concept of responding to violence with violence, as we learned the news of shots fired at a Dallas protest, killing 5 police officers and wounding 7 others.
In the face of our current reality, what should we now do in response? What can be learned from these situations? Below is a list of ways you can respond to recent events, celebrate your child’s unique heritage, and prepare them for the realities of a world not quite prepared to ensure their safety.
- Talk about recent events openly and honestly in an age appropriate manner. Acknowledge your emotions and response to these news stories. Ask questions of your child about their reactions: ‘What are your friends saying about this?’ ‘What do you think?’ ‘How do you feel about our differences?’ Discuss, and participate in, healthy outlets for such challenging emotions.
- If you haven’t already, do everything you can to learn about the concept of privilege, prejudice, bias, and discrimination. Recognize and acknowledge your privilege. You will not be able to help your child if you are incapable of recognizing the differences between your reality and theirs.
- Prepare your children to encounter a world that isn’t necessarily friendly. Let them know that racism does exist, that we do not live in a post-racial society, that there is no such thing as “color-blindness”, and prepare them to manage micro and all-out macro aggressions.
- Educate yourself. Talk to people of color, get the perspective of those that know what it is like to be black, read articles such as The Black Male Code. Do not turn a blind eye to the realities of the world in which your child lives now and will need to navigate independently in the future.
- Find a tribe that “gets” your kids and the challenges they will meet. Avoid people who are not willing to validate the challenges experienced by people of color. Find positive role models who share your child’s race.
- Pay attention to the voices of transracial adoptees. They know what it is like to grow up with parents they do not look like or can understand first hand their experiences as children of color.
- If you haven’t already, join some transracial adoption groups online and/or in your area. There is such value to finding people who understand what it is like to parent transracially, and your child could also directly benefit from such interactions.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Transracial adoption is also beautiful. Our differences weave together to create a new story of belonging, acceptance and hope for a better future – for all of us.
About WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez: Zoila recently joined WACAP as Clinical Director. She is an adoptive mom, a former foster parent, and brings to her new role an extensive background of work as a therapist and adoption coach to support all members of the adoption triad.