Empowering Transracial Adoptees To Own Their Voice on the Path From Childhood to Adulthood: Part 1

Transracial Adoptee Holding Hands with Mother

 

Empowering children to hear, value, and own their voices starting at a young age is core to raising strong and confident human beings. At Adoptions Together we recognize the critical importance of a parent’s role in nurturing the development of their child’s voice. As a place of lifelong growth and healing, we offer support groups and counseling to strengthen resiliency, provide children and their families guidance they need in the moment, and recommend tools to create lasting stability.

This series, born from our Transracial Adoption Family Support Group (TAG), will provide a platform to hear from transracial adoptees and their families as they navigate and grow on the path of life. We’ll also discuss common questions and concerns of this community.

For the first part of the series, Mindy*, a long-time member of the group, shares her views and experiences encountering race early in her children’s lives.

As the white mother of two Black children, a  6 year-old girl and a  3 year-old boy, Mindy knew she needed to find a place for her children to see similar families and freely ask questions to find their voices early in life. TAG brings together children and their families, creating a safe space to offer advice, ask questions, and grow as a family unit and community. The support group is facilitated by Adoptions Together counseling professionals who are trained in these highly-nuanced topics.

With conversations about race, a critical question that naturally arises is when to introduce a child to the concept—especially a child who is adopted transracially. The next question is how to do so.

From conversations and anecdotes discussed in TAG, Mindy says it’s clear that there is no definitive answer. Children who do not look like their parents often encounter uncomfortable questions from their peers, and these questions put parents in a challenging spot. As the parents in TAG meet with one another, they continually acknowledge how important it is to have the right resources for difficult conversations with their children in order to lead them to better find their voices and develop empathetic worldviews in which they are powerful advocates for themselves and others.

Questions may arise at any time and children should never be shut down. Instead, Mindy and the other TAG parents focus on identifying resources (through TAG and elsewhere) that are accessible for their children based on age and maturity level. By answering questions and exploring topics openly, children are validated and have the tools to discover their own self-expression and perspective.

One of Mindy’s primary goals is the development of her children’s voices as their own, empowering them to advocate for themselves and others in all matters, regardless of the scope. Her daughter is building this skillset through TAG by learning how to voice her opinions, share appropriate, thoughtful responses when faced with negativity, and better understand how kids sometimes perceive their skin and hair, especially in comparison with their parents. TAG has provided structured learning opportunities within the group for children to practice owning their voice and feeling comfortable in the moment with another child.

When children are given the chance to learn to use their voices, doors are opened in their development as individuals. For children like Mindy’s, resources like TAG allow them to have spaces that foster positive growth, cementing who they are and will become in the future.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality.

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