You’ve been matched and are eager to share the happy news with your family! Prospective adoptive parents looking for support of their decision to adopt transracially may be met with resistance from loved ones. What do you do when your family doesn’t support your transracial or biracial adoption? Adoptive parent Kristen Nicole shares her experience and offers adoptive parent tips for dealing with reluctant family members.
The chance of a biracial adoption
When we decided to adopt, we also decided that the race of our child did not matter. We checked the “Any Race” box both times. The first time, we were matched with a birth mother who said there was a 50% chance that the baby would be biracial. None of our family members had anything to say in regard to a biracial adoption. Everyone was just thrilled that we had been matched so quickly (18 days). When our little girl was born, she had very fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. So, since our first child was white, when we decided to adopt again people questioned us as to why we weren’t “going for a white child.” The way they phrased it makes me cringe.
To us it was pretty simple. We felt that by checking “Any Race” that we were going to be given the child meant for us. However, others did not see it this way. I had a friend say, “Oh you will get a white baby for sure. I just know it.” I said, “Maybe, but it doesn’t matter to us.” She said, “It will be easier that way.” The true problems began when we were matched with my son’s birth mother. She is black, as is his birth father. We were so excited to be matched so quickly again (just 4 days this time) and couldn’t wait to spread the news. We did feel a little apprehensive telling some of our family members about the race of our son. We just weren’t sure how they would react to a transracial adoption. However, we were pleasantly surprised by their love and support for this child who wasn’t even born yet.
Well, that rang true for all family members but one—my almost ninety year old grandfather. When we told him we had been matched, his first question wasn’t, “When is the due date?” or “Is it a girl or a boy?” No, his first question was, “Is the baby white?” And let me tell you, he did not like the answer to that question. The look on his face when I told him the baby would be black was like he had eaten something very foul. He kept shaking his head and asking questions or making comments such as, “How can you do this to your daughter?” “Maybe she had a light skinned boyfriend on the side,” “Maybe the baby won’t be too dark,” “Are you sure you want to do this?”
Needless to say, we were crushed after that visit. Here we were, so excited about our second child, and there sat my beloved grandfather with an awful scowl on his face, showing no joy at all about his soon-to-be great grandson. I was devastated. As was my mom. We both knew that her father had grown up in a time where blacks and whites were separate. We thought he might have a hard time dealing with it. However, we didn’t think he would be quite so negative. We surely didn’t plan on him not even wanting to hold him once he was born.
When your family opposes transracial or biracial adoption
So what do you do when you have a family member who opposes your transracial adoption? We leaned on other family members for support with our adoption. We also didn’t go and visit my grandfather. That pained me, but I could not be around someone who did not accept my son. We made it clear that we loved our son no matter what color his skin was and that we expected the same from our family. Eventually my grandfather realized his way of thinking was wrong. He finally held my son when he was 3 months old. Sadly, my grandfather died one week later.
I really had a hard time with this. I had always adored my grandfather. For the last several months of his life I was very angry with him and saw a side of him that I never knew existed. I don’t regret the way we handled things though. Family members need to know that all children deserve love and support no matter how they come into your family or what they may look like. If you run into an family member who is unsupportive in your transracial or biracial adoption, try to talk with them. Talking may not work and you may have to distance yourself for the sake of your child. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to you, but prepare yourself just in case.