Talking About Race and Honoring Birth Culture in Transracial Adoption


When your child joins your family through transracial adoption, you must find ways to talk about racism, instill a positive racial identity, and honor her birth culture.

author Billy Cuchens with his transracially adopted teenage son

“Home Safe Every Night”

“Home Safe Every Night”

Isaac is 14 years old, but he’s six feet tall and almost two hundred pounds. He’s also black. He hasn’t been a discipline problem since the day he came home, but someone who doesn’t know him could see him as a threat. So what was I to do on a recent evening when he asked to bike home alone in the dark?

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A mother and her kids at the airport, leaving for a heritage travel trip.

An Overview of Heritage Travel

Heritage travel can help your child understand her birth culture, and her origin story. Plan a trip that will work for your family by answering these questions.

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Books and articles to help explain racism to kids

Books and Articles for Introducing Race and Racism to Children

Want more resources on instilling a positive racial and cultural identity in kids, educating kids about racism, and learning more about your child's ethnic heritage—and the stereotypes that accompany it? Start here.

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A baby smiles in her crib

“Bagels and Pho”

Was there a recipe for raising my daughter from Viet Nam? Holding her in my arms, I discovered that love was the prime ingredient.

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author Shelly Gill Murray with her husband and daughter on their trip to Colombia to meet their daughter's birth mother

“Back to Bucaramanga” – Meeting My Daughter’s Birth Mother in Colombia

We set off on the 3,400-mile journey to meet my daughter’s birth mother in silence, our questions too big to put into words. In Colombia, communicating through an interpreter, but also through smiles, tears, embraces, and shared sensory experiences, all of us began to find answers.

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A family looks at a map, symbolism for taking a heritage tour.

AF’s, Complete Guide to Heritage Travel

Heritage trips help children discover their past — and inspire who they'll become. Help your child prepare for the journey with these expert-tested tips.

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AF Interviews Melissa Fay Green

Interview with Melissa Fay Green

The adoptive mom and critically acclaimed author talks about her adoption of two brothers from Ethiopia, the AIDS crisis in Africa, and Haregewoin Teferra, the foster mother at the center of her book, There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children.

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A woman embraces three children on a heritage travel trip to India

Journeys of Discovery

A homeland trip can help kids connect "where I come from" to "where I'm going." Having traveled with thousands of adoptive families, I'm delighted to share my thoughts on the impact of homeland travel on identity formation.

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exerpt-that-kind-of-mother-the-talk-police-car-lights-700

[EXCERPT] That Kind of Mother

In this excerpt from That Kind of Mother, by Rumaan Alam, the white adoptive mother of a black child learns about importance of talking with her son about racism and interactions with the police.

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A little boy whose parents taught him about race and racism

Primer for Talking About Race and Racism

Racism exists, and it's our job as parents to talk about it with our kids. Start with this glossary of important terms.

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Two girls read about their birth culture together

Reading List: Learn About Your Child’s Birth Country

These books can help your child connect with her birth culture. Add your family's favorites in the comments!

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The Opher Shapiro family

“Our Journey to China to Adopt Our Daughter”

We left our house this morning a family of three, but the next time we walk through our front door, it will be as a family of four.

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a mother on talking with her African-American daughter about racism in the U.S.

The Talk: Revealing the Realities of Racism to My African-American Child

Growing up in Trinidad, I didn’t use the word black to describe myself. But as the mother of two black children in the U.S., I walk the fine line of raising them to believe they are capable and worthy while understanding that everyone in this country has been taught to discount their value.

A phone call cemented a mother and daughter bond.

“This Is For Real”

An unexpected emergency tests the strength of a mother-daughter bond.

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A heart on graph paper

“Overcoming All Odds”

Although we knew our South American-born son would face challenges growing up in a predominantly white middle class suburb, we were totally unprepared for what was to come.

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A man holds his baby after adopting a child of a different race.

Are You Considering Transracial Adoption?

If your family is thinking about adopting a child of a different race, spend some time answering these six questions to help determine if it's right for you.

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