Embracing Liminal Identity : Uncovering Hidden Diversity : Celebrating Cultural Mobility

Two Cultures, One Family: Transracial Adoptions Bring Worthwhile Challenges

On July 9th, 2012, my life changed forever. My family welcomed my beautiful baby brother through an open, transracial adoption. While my experience differs from that of my parents and his birth mother, I believe my fears are the same. How can I prevent him from experiencing racism when I have never been affected with racism myself? transracial adoption familyHow can my family teach him about his heritage and culture while he is raised in my own? I want to prove negative connotations surrounding transracial adoptions wrong by making sure my brother grows up immersed in love and aware of both his culture and ours.

Racism: an ugly word that may never diminish in our society. But the answer is not to prevent my brother from experiencing racism, but to help him understand that racist interactions he may experience are not about him, “but a reflection of other people’s ignorance,” said in an article by Deb Reisner for NACAC. It is crucial that he has friends and role models that he sees frequently who share his same race and culture. They will teach him customs, behaviors, and traditions my family can’t through positive relationships and bonds. As his parents and siblings, my family and I must approach racism in a positive and real way. My family must confront racism not by ignoring it or shielding him from it, but my showing him the best ways to deal with it and to not let him fear it. We must teach him that even though people might view him differently, just like Jessie Washington said in an article for the Associated Press, “he’s blessed to be an African-American,” and we’re even more blessed to have him in our lives.

The greater issue surrounding transracial adoption is more a reflection on the ongoing racial issues in the world than it is about the ability of parents to raise a child of a different race. “Although many sociologists have concluded that Black children are not detrimentally affected by transracial adoption, people may differ on the question of what constitutes a healthy racial identity,” said in an article by Twila L. Perry. If a child is raised in a loving and safe home, should there truly be any issue? The adverse opinions that cloud people’s perception of transracial adoptions are simple to understand and may have a simple solution.

To ensure my brother grows up knowing his own heritage and culture, and being able to identify with the African-American community, my family must do everything they can to help him to know who he is. My family’s situation is lucky as we are part of a remarkable, open adoption. My brother will someday meet his birth mother and siblings. He will know where he comes from. Until then, an adoption support group could be instrumental in helping my brother grow. Not only would my family be introduced to numerous ways to help my brother, he would also be in contact with other transracial adoptees and be able to help each other.

Adoption of any kind is a learning process. Birth parents and adoptive parents have the same hope for their child: to have the best future and to be loved. That goal does not change for transracial adoptions, but occasionally more ought to be considered. It is my family’s hope that my brother will grow up knowing how much he is loved, and knowing who he is and where he came from. While my family may face more challenges along the way, nothing could diminish the love and light that my brother has brought to our lives. It is only fair that we try to bring that same love and light to him.


By: Kiaja Thomas

Kiaja Thomas studies Journalism and Technical Communication at Colorado State University. She became a part of a multicultural family with the adoption of her brother in 2012. She enjoys traveling, eating sushi, and competing in triathlons.