Ask AF: Balancing a Biracial Heritage

Biracial adopted children may have to confront their heritage in ways their birth parents never did.

Q: To what extent should I play up my biracial daughter’s Mexican heritage? Her birth father was born in the U.S. and has only a few ties to his Mexican culture. When I mentioned to him that we’ll need his help to teach her what it means to be Mexican, he gave me an odd look. Any thoughts?


A: Your daughter’s birth father may not have thought much about what it means to be Mexican-American. This is common in second- and third-generation Americans. Rather than the open-ended question, “What does it mean to you to be Mexican?” start with something concrete and universal, like, “What was your favorite food when you were growing up?” or “How did your family celebrate Christmas?” Let him know that you want to pass on to your child some of the traditions her birth parents consider special.

Keep in mind that, as a transracial adoptee and a biracial individual, your daughter will be asked to explain herself in ways that her birth father hasn’t had to. He has probably never questioned his identity to the extent that your daughter will. Instead of trying to compartmentalize her ethnic makeup, acknowledge the fact that she’s biracial and bicultural. As you raise your daughter, you’ll want to instill an appreciation for and comfort with all of the cultures reflected in her background, and in your family.

Copyright © 1999-2024 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this