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5 Steps Toward Embracing Your Multicultural Family

Mon, Nov. 23, 2015 Posted: 09:35 AM


The following was written by Sarah Horton Bobo, Director of Post-Adoption Support and Education for Bethany Christian Services, and originally appeared in Lifelines, the organization's quarterly magazine.

Parents adopting transracially or transculturally once commonly believed it was better not to address racial or cultural differences within their families. We now know that including the topics of race, ethnicity, and culture in family discussions creates an atmosphere of honesty and acceptance that empowers children. We also recognize that when a child, of a different racial background from his family, is adopted, the whole adoptive family becomes multicultural, adding a new dimension to family life. Consider the following suggestions and resources to prepare for a smooth transition.

1. Diversify Your Home

Have items in your home that represent your family’s diversity, such as:

  • music
  • movies
  • children’s books
  • toys, dolls, games
  • artwork
  • clothing

There are many different ways to find items that would be most suited to your family, including sites like Pinterest, which has a wide-range of pages focused on multicultural families and transracial adoption.

WE RECOMMEND: 4kidslikeme.com and icelebratediversity.com.

2. Seek Education

Seek education from others who have been on this journey, through:

  • websites
  • blogs
  • books
  • training

WE RECOMMEND: pactadopt.org/resources (select “transracial adoption”), creatingafamily.org/
adoption-resources (select “transracial/multiracial adoption”)

3. Everyday Culture

Participate in activities that represent your child’s cultural background by:

  • preparing food together or eating in specific restaurants
  • learning to speak your child’s first language
  • participating in specific culture celebrations, going to museums, traveling
  • being involved in support groups, camps, or social events

To find community activities or specialized events, try contacting your local Chamber of Commerce or visitor’s bureau.

WE RECOMMEND: adoptionlearningpartners.org/pathways (to learn about camps, retreats,
and homeland tours)

4. Build Natural Supports and Relationships

Involve individuals in your child’s life who model shared values and look like your child. Your child should experience diversity through common encounters with:

  • family friends, peers
  • mentors, godparents
  • neighbors, people in the community
  • church members
  • service providers (child care providers, teachers, coaches, doctors)

Look for books and blogs written by individuals who were adopted transracially to gain perspective on the impact of these types of relationships.

WE RECOMMEND: In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories, by Rita Simon and Rhonda Roorda; thelostdaughters.combethanylifelines.org/audio-interviews (select Being Adopted or Transracial Adoption to hear Rhonda Roorda talk about her own experiences and how transracial adoption affects children and adoptive parents)

5. Develop Skills to Identify & Respond to Racism

Think about who may consciously or unconsciously demonstrate racism toward your child and prepare for how you or your child can respond to different individuals:

  • siblings, immediate family members
  • extended family members
  • peers/other children
  • teachers/service providers
  • people in the general community
It is critical to create an environment that allows your child to feel comfortable discussing experiences of
racism and to have trusted advocates available to provide support. Resources are available to help your
child develop a positive adoption identity.
WE RECOMMEND: pactadopt.org/resources (select “talking with children about race and racism”);
adoptionsupport.org/pub/WISEUpeducators
For more information on how you can become an adoptive or foster family, visit www.bethany.org.

Bethany Christian Services