Talk About Race and Culture
(An excerpt from the
adoption.com article, “Transracial and Transcultural Adoption”,
Written by Debra G. Smith,
ACSW, Director of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 1994.)
race or culture defined you? What is life like for a Latino person in America?
What is life like for a Caucasian person? An African-American person? An Asian
person? How are persons of different ethnic groups treated by police officers,
restaurant employees, social organizations, or government agencies? What do you
think about interracial dating and marriage? As a multicultural family, you need
to address these and other racial matters.
Talk about racial issues, even if your child does not bring up the subject. Use
natural opportunities, such as a television program or newspaper article that
talks about race in some way. Let your child know that you feel comfortable
discussing race-the positive aspects as well as the difficult ones. On the
positive side, a child of a certain race may be given preferential treatment or
special attention. On the other hand, even a young child needs to know that
while your family celebrates difference, other families do not know many people
who are different. These families are sometimes afraid of what they do not know
or understand, and may react at times in unkind ways. It can be difficult to
deal with such issues, especially when your child is young and does not yet know
that some adults have these negative feelings, but you have to do it. You will
help your child become a strong, healthy adult by preparing him or her to stand
up in the face of ignorance, bias, or adversity.
Stand behind your children if they are the victim of a racial incident or have
problems in your community because of the unkind actions of others. This does
not mean you should fight their battles for them, but rather support them and
give them the tools to deal with the blows that the world may hand them.
Confront racism openly. Discuss it with your friends and family and the
supportive multicultural community with which you associate. Rely on adults of
color to share their insights with both you and your child. Above all, if your
child's feelings are hurt, let him talk about the experience with you, and
acknowledge that you understand.
Ms. Lois Melina, a Caucasian adoptive parent of Korean children and a noted
adoption writer, lists five questions for you to ask your child to help him or
her deal with problem situations:
*How did that make you feel?
*What did you say or do when that happened?
*If something like that happens again, do you think you will deal with it the
*Would you like me to do something?
It is important to leave the choice of your involvement up to your child. This
way, you show that you are available to help, but also that you have confidence
in your child's ability to decide when your help is needed.