Q: My husband and I have a five-year-old daughter, adopted transracially. After spending time with families who “match,” as my daughter puts it, she wants to know why her mommy and daddy can’t match her.
We have the opportunity to adopt another African-American child, who would be a lovely addition to our family. Do you think this might strengthen our little girl’s racial identity and help her feel she’s not “going it alone”?
A: I don’t advise families to adopt any child because of the benefits he or she may bring to children already in the family. The best, and really the only, reason to adopt another child is because you and your husband very much want to add a child to your family.
Helping a child with racial identity (as well as adoption identity) is an ongoing, lifelong process that involves a commitment to embracing the way your family was formed, as well as its unique racial and/or ethnic composition.
Your daughter is at the age when she’s just beginning to consider important questions about families, race, adoption, culture, and values, and it’s understandable that one of her first thoughts about this is wanting to be part of a family that “matches.” Many transracially adopted children, at some point in their lives, wish they matched their parents.
Talk with your daughter about the benefits (and drawbacks) of being in a family that matches and one that doesn’t. Help her figure out how she feels about it, and what she can do to be comfortable with looking different from other members of her family.