Parents of adopted children may adopt from different places around the globe, or in various parts of the United States. Depending on who we are, most of us come from various cultures and celebrate different heritages. Transracial adoption can be a big part of the adoptee’s life and therefore, impact how adoptive parents may want to celebrate his or her birth culture. The following blog will discuss different ideas about how an adoptive parent can recognize and celebrate the adopted child’s culture.
Adoptees often struggle with different aspects of adoption. Discussions on some of these can be found in my previous blog on positive adoption language, and what terms and phrases should be used when speaking about adoption. That blog can be read here. Another blog, focusing on the issue of holidays and celebrations for the adoptee, can be found here.
Adoption language and celebrations may both be sensitive subjects to an adoptee, but the overall topic of identity can potentially be a trigger to them as well. Adoptive parents may have questions and concerns on how to approach their child’s culture and heritage. Often, how the adopted individuals see themselves and the world impacts their lives and the lives of their adoptive families.
Transracial and Transcultural Adoption
Like most things surrounding the topic of adoption, culture may also be a sensitive subject to be brought up with an adopted individual. When parents decide to adopt, they may choose to do so internationally or cross-culturally. This naturally leads to an awareness of racial, ethnic and other differences between parent and child. International adoption describes an adoption in which a family adopts a child from a different country and often, of a different race.
In the United States, there is something called, The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA), which was enacted in 1994. This prevents discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of race, color, or nationality and thereby decreases the length of time a child may experience waiting to be adopted and to identify and recruit foster and adoptive families who meet the needs of the children.
When parents celebrate their own culture and heritage, as well as the culture of their adopted child, the child will not only connect to their adoptive family’s experiences and traditions, but will also recognize who he or she is individually and, therefore, feel included and positively acknowledged.
Preserving the Culture of Your Adopted Child
Adoptive parents may want to look at the following suggestions to bring positive attention to the adopted child’s culture. Every adoptee may or may not want to explore his or her own culture. Depending on the adoptee, they should never be pressured in looking more into their own culture.
The following are some ideas on how to keep and explore your adopted child’s culture:
- Research – Understanding your child’s culture and where they come from can help grow a stronger bond within the adoptive family. There may be certain tribes, temples, and/or historical figures that may be of interest to the adoptee. Specifically, if you are a parent of transracial adoption, you may want to read more ways on how to create a bi-cultural home environment that can be an exciting journey for the family to take together.
- Toys & Books – Educational books and toys may be helpful for the child to own while they are growing up, such as, showing them photographs or reading stories of those similar to them. It allows the child’s development to begin to flourish. Bookstores and the local library may have the proper books and specific resources related to the child’s culture.
- Home Decor – Decorating your home environment with some items from your child’s culture may be a source of pride and comfort. Such decorative pieces may include: artwork, books, and magazines. These items allow the child to visualize their cultural backgrounds without physically being there in person.
- Food – This is not only a way for parents and their children to connect, but also creating, eating and shopping for the food allows the adopted individual to taste different dishes from their place of origin that they may have not have had a chance to do otherwise.
- Travel – Depending on how comfortable your child feels about the birth culture, he or she may want to take a trip to the home country. This can be a rather emotional trip and experience and should be fully discussed prior to initiating any traveling arrangements. This should be done only when the meaning of the trip has been fully discussed and when he or she is ready to travel.
- Celebrations – Celebrating your child’s culture can be an exciting time. However, as mentioned throughout this blog, it depends on who the adoptee is, if celebrating holidays may be of interest to them. For instance, if the adoptive parent(s) adopted a child from China, the child may want to celebrate the Chinese New Year, that is often celebrated with dishes and drinks. This can be a wonderful bonding experience for the adoptive family to do together by shopping for the food and decorations needed for this holiday.
Your Child’s Culture
Cultures can be an important learning experience for the adoptive family. Every person is part of several cultures, and interacting with people who have the same culture can create a sense of belonging and comfort. Knowledge, research and asking questions are key when you are trying to figure out how to preserve your adoptive child’s culture.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Rachel Strom graduated from Lehman College in the Bronx in May of 2018, where she received her bachelors in Professional Writing. After receiving her education at Lehman College, Rachel is currently interning at Adoption Choices Inc., where she is a weekly blogger.
Rachel was adopted from Asuncion, Paraguay in 1991. Her adoption experience has helped her write articles for Adoption Choices Inc., from the perspective of an adoptive individual. She hopes her articles will help someone looking into adoption or encourage those currently in the process.
When Rachel is not writing for Adoption Choices Inc. or her own novels she enjoys her other passion for baking, where she resides, in the New York City area. When she is baking, music is always playing throughout the kitchen while she is whipping up a delectable dessert for her friends and adoptive family.
Bayless, Kate. “Transracial Adoption.” Parents, Parents, www.parents.com/parenting/adoption/helping-your-adopted-child-maintain-a-cultural-connection/.
Lee, Richard M et al. “Cultural socialization in families with internationally adopted children” Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43) vol. 20,4 (2006): 571-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2398726/
Transracial Parenting in Foster Care and Adoption – Strengthening Your Bicultural Family. Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, pgs. 1-8, 2008, www.ifapa.org/pdf_docs/transracialparenting.pdf.
“The Multiethnic Placement Act – Issue Brief.” Child Welfare League of America, Aug. 2005.