Considering Transracial Adoption

Playful multi-ethnic father and daughters tickling and laughing on sofa
Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Adopting outside your own race is a big decision. It's also controversial. Questions remain as to whether a white family can properly prepare a Black child for dealing with racism.

Thanks to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 and the revisions made to it in 1996, it is against the law to prohibit an adoption or to delay an adoption based solely on the race of the adoptive parents or child.

Now the decision rests mainly with the families, social workers, and agencies involved. What issues should you consider before making the final decision to adopt transracially? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

How Will You Handle the Racism of Others?

Despite the huge changes in our world, racism is still out there. Are you prepared to handle questions from people, sometimes total strangers, about your child's heritage or parentage? What about the opinions of your extended family? Unlike strangers where comments will be new, one usually knows what to expect from family. Will it bother you that an uncle uses racial slurs? How often do you see this person? Once a year? Is that often enough to sway your decision one way or another? Be aware of the fact that you may have to decide to limit contact with some members of your family to protect your child.

Questions About Your Community 

It's important that your child is able to connect with others of the same race, so you might consider the following:

  • What is the racial breakdown of your community?
  • Are the schools diverse?
  • Do you have friends of different races?
  • Is there racial diversity in your house of worship?
  • Do you know people who have adopted or married outside of their race?

The Child's Culture 

Some have said that when you adopt internationally you're adopting both the child and their culture. You don't have to change your entire life to accommodate this; however, it’s worth educating yourself and your child on their native history and culture.

Small changes can make a big impact. Can you help instill in the child a sense of pride in his culture and heritage?

Health, Skin and Hair Care 

Each race has its own susceptibility to different medical problems. Have you educated yourself on the different medical and skin conditions that children of color may develop? Do you understand the different skin and hair care needs of people with darker skin tones and textures of hair?

Celebrating the Differences and the Similarities

Children begin to see that each person has different physical characteristics around the age of 3 or 4. One of the first things they notice is the color of the skin. It's important for children to see people around them who look similar to themselves.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Multiethnic Placement Act and transracial adoption 25 years later.

  2. Key facts on health and health care by race and ethnicity.

  3. Scholastic. Ages & stages: Physical identity.

By Carrie Craft
Carrie Craft been an educator in the field of adoption and foster care since 1996. She has a wealth of relevant personal and professional experience.