Life in a Conspicuous Family Formed Through Transracial Adoption


When you adopt a child of another race, your family’s adoptive status will be writ large—and you will be sure to receive a fair share of looks, nosy questions, and comments. Experts, adoptive parents, and transracial adoptees share advice and stories about life in a conspicuous adoptive family.

adoption story

“Choosing Not to Share My Children’s Adoption Story”

“Choosing Not to Share My Children’s Adoption Story”

May I take my children to the grocery store or the library without announcing where they came from, or my own history? I think, yes.

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raising a child of a different race

“Looking Different, Dressing Alike”

When we stepped into the next parking lot, she took my hand again. “It’s good we’re wearing our shoes,” she said. “We match. That way, people know we belong together.”

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conspicuous family

“Being Noticed as a Transracial Family”

For once, the barista at Starbucks didn’t recognize me. He shouldn’t. I’m there only about once a month. The thing is, he remembers me. Well, not me so much as us. This is one of those things that come with being the white mother of a black child. Comments, questions, stares—those I expected. The strange experience of just being visible—not so much. I didn’t realize how invisible I was until I wasn’t anymore.

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Grace, and the photograph that started it all

“The Refrigerator Picture”

When I dressed up my daughter and took a portrait, was I just showing off my cute kid — or perpetuating stereotypes?

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Color Blindness and Race

Love Sees in Color

About a decade ago it was popular to say, “Love sees no color. I really don’t see that my kids are different.” I’m hoping we’ve moved away from that, because it’s just not true. We all notice differences, and, if we say we can’t, we’re denying something.

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Korean couple preparing for an adoptive wedding

Meeting the In-Laws

Our Korean-born daughter is engaged to a Korean man. We're thrilled — but how do we discuss adoption with his family?

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Three adult adoptee stories

“Did You Ever Mind It?”: On Race and Adoption

I tell prospective adoptive parents to take a good, hard look at their social circles, their neighborhoods, their churches, their communities and think about how those places and spaces will look and feel to their child.

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Adoptees through same race adoption talk about explaining physical dissimilarities

“Where Did You Get Those Dimples?”

Even among same-race families physical differences can prompt curious questions. How did you handle it?

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One mom ponders racial injustice while party planning.

“No More Monkey Business”

Cake? Check. Invitations? Check. Favors? Check. Acknowledgement of racial injustice…? Choosing a theme for my son's birthday party involved more than we had anticipated.

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A rabbi discusses the challenges of transracial adoption and religion.

“The Rabbi’s Daughter”

She's two-years old, Jewish, speaks English and Hebrew—and is African American. Who is she? Our daughter, of course!

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A white mother with one of her biracial children

“My Inconspicuous Family”

We were prepared to raise a child who looked nothing like us. But things changed when we found out that our new daughter did...sort of.

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Joe Mills is a parent via transracial adoption

“Our Visible, Multiracial Family”

Although my wife and I talked a great deal about race before we decided on a transracial adoption, we didn't fully appreciate how conspicuous our family would become. Quite simply, we now stick out in a crowd.

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A happy and healthy multiracial family

“Did You Try to Have Your Own Kids?”

My wife was deluged with questions at a new moms' group, each one more personal than the last.

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