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What is Transracial Adoption? 

Key Takeaways

  • About 28% of all adoptions from 2017 to 2019 were transracial. About 90% of these adoptions involved white people adopting children of a different race or ethnicity.[1]
  • While the practice has become increasingly common in recent years, transracial adoption remains a controversial practice. Advocates on both sides of the issue have strong opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of allowing parents of one race to adopt children from a different race.

What is Transracial Adoption?

Transracial adoption is the adoption of a child from one race or ethnicity by parents from a different race or ethnic background. Examples include a white couple adopting an African-American or Native American child, a Chinese couple adopting a white child, or an African-American couple adopting an Asian child.

Transracial Adoption or Placement

Many parents prefer to adopt children of the same race. However, some have no preference regarding a child’s skin color or ethnic background. Other parents may specifically seek out children of other races because they know that the child or family of origin may be facing many challenges. These instances all fall under the category of transracial adoption.

In a transracial placement, a child is taken into foster care by the state and then placed under the care of foster parents. If the biological parents are unwilling or unable to care for the child, the state may allow the foster parents to adopt their foster children if the parents want to do so. Over half of all foster care adoptions involve instances where foster parents decide to adopt the children already in their care.[2]

The Joys of Transracial Adoption

mother and her adopted baby playing together

The challenges involved in transracial adoption don’t cancel out the many joys of the practice. Many transracial adoptions are international. Parents who adopt children from other countries gain the joy of knowing that they’re giving a child who had few or no opportunities a better life than they would have had otherwise. Parents may connect with a child of a different race based on factors other than skin color. This allows parents and children to enjoy shared interests while doing life together. Foster parents who have already connected with foster children of another race have already built a meaningful relationship with their foster kids. They gain the joy of taking that relationship to the next level.

What’s more, transracial adoption allows all parents to enjoy the many blessings of raising an adopted child while also providing needy children with a greater chance of finding a loving home. According to a 2017 survey, a whopping 84% of adoptive parents are white. However, only 19% of children up for adoption fall under this same category.[3] Limiting adoption to parents of the same race limits opportunities for children to receive the love and care of two loving parents. This leads to an increase in the number of children in orphanages and foster care.

Furthermore, eliminating transracial adoption as an option also disempowers women who have an unplanned pregnancy and who want to put the child in a loving adoptive home rather than have an abortion. Pregnant women should be able to avail themselves of all their options, including adoption, if they can’t or don’t want to raise the child themselves. Limiting a pregnant woman’s options could push some women to either abort the child or struggle to raise the child on their own without the needed emotional support or financial resources.

Common Challenges of Transracial Adoption

The human race is made in God’s image. There is no difference, in God’s eyes, between people of different nationalities. However, adoptive parents and foster parents should bear in mind that there are different cultures, customs, and languages. Transitioning from one to another can be a huge shock for many children. This is especially true for children who remember their biological parents and original culture, language, and customs. Adapting to new foods, new ways of communicating, and new social mores poses a huge challenge that even many adults can’t handle without help. Language barriers may complicate the process if an adopted child doesn’t speak the adoptive parents’ language.

Some parents may seek to avoid these challenges by adopting a baby or a very young child. However, cultural integration will always be an issue even if a child is too young to know much about his or her native culture. Non-white children may encounter racism and/or racial bias during their lives. Thus, white parents need to be prepared to teach children how to handle such incidents. Furthermore, parents who adopt children of another race will need to learn enough about that race to teach children how to be proud of their racial identity and background.

Bottom Line

Transracial adoption is challenging. Parents who embark on this course of action need to learn about the adoptive child’s culture and background. They need to make it possible for the child to interact with others of the same racial and ethnic background. They also need to teach their child to navigate the challenges racial minorities face in the United States. However, the joys and benefits of taking a child of another race into your home and heart far outweigh the challenges. Transracial adoption makes it possible for children to have a family. It provides them with a caring home and the support of loving parents.

mother holding her transracially adopted baby while she researches how to help mothers in crisis seeking adoption services

A child needs loving care from the time he or she is in the womb up until the end of life. Ideally, this care should be provided by biological parents, but not all pregnant mothers are ready or able to take on the responsibility. At Caring Network, we help pregnant women understand all their options and encourage those who are considering adoption to work with an agency to find loving, caring parents to care for a child. If you or someone you know could benefit from a free options consultation or other early pregnancy services we offer, reach out to us today! 

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