Adopting Black Children When You Live in a White Community

by Laura Christianson

Parents who live in mostly-white or all-white communities
often have reservations about adopting a child of another race. Understandably
so. I live in a “vanilla” community and the adopted East Indian children who
attend my son’s school stand out. As do the handful of black, Hispanic and
Asian children.

The staff at our school makes a very big deal about treating
everyone equally and not teasing or bullying others, but I often wonder whether
those kids are treated differently, because they’re more colorful than most of
the other kids.

My former next-door-neighbor – a Caucasian with daughters
adopted from Korea, told me that one day, her daughter tearfully confessed to being teased about
her skin color on the school bus. She had avoided telling her mom for years,
because she didn’t want her mom to feel guilty about adopting her and raising
her in a white community.

Other friends, who live in multi-ethnic Seattle, are
concerned about whether their parents, who live in the Midwest, will  accept an adopted child of color into the family.

Recently, someone told me about a couple who had adopted a
black girl and a boy (biological siblings). The kids, now teenagers, have had
varying experiences in their vanilla community. The boy, who is athletic, got
into sports and has been fully accepted by his peers. Seems that sports is the
universal language of the male gender – if you’re an athlete, you’re accepted.

The girl, who is gorgeous, has always felt inferior. While
the girl’s white mother attempts to help her daughter understand how beautiful
she is, inside and out, Mom knows that no matter how hard she tries, she will
never be able to offer her daughter the same perspective as a black mother

Helping an adopted child assimilate into his or her community
culture is a huge task that all adoptive families face. I’d love for you to
contribute your thoughts on the subject.

  • How do you, as an adoptive parent or child, assimilate (or
    help your child assimilate) into your community?
  • What difficulties have you faced? What challenges?
  • What are you learning?
  • What inroads have you made?
  • What advice can you share with people who are thinking of
    adopting a child of another race?
  • What advice can you share with other adopted people who are
    living in a community where most of the people are a different color than you

Feel free to add your comments below or email me and I’ll
include your insights in a future post.

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