Interracial Adoptive Parenting: White Parents with Brown Children

Transracial adoption is becoming increasingly popular in the US. There are issues unique to parenting a child of a different race. Our guest is Dr. Marlene Fine. She is a Professor Emerita from Simmons College in Boston MA specializing in issues related to race, racial identity, and interracial communication, and the co-author with her spouse, Fern Johnson, of The Interracial Adoption Option: Creating a Family Across Race. She is the white adoptive mother of two African American sons, both adopted as infants and now ages 24 and 25. She is also a facilitator with the YW Boston Community Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity.

Hit the Highlights
  • You and your spouse are both academic specializing in issues related to race, racial identity, and interracial communication so you probably went into the idea of interracial adoption thinking you wouldn’t need to learn much more. Is that how it turned out? What areas surprised you?
  • How are the issues of interracial adoptive parenting different depending on the race of the child you adopt?
  • What is white privilege?
  • It is not uncommon for us to hear prospective adoptive parents say that they are open to adopting a bi-racial baby but not a full African American baby, which raises the issue of skin tone.
  • The hardest child to place in infant adoption in the US are full African American boys. Which is not to say that families are not available, but the wait is usually shorter for families open to adopting black baby boys. Why do you think that is so, and how does the gender of the child affect issues in transracial adoption?
  • What do people considering interracial adoption need to be able and willing to do before they adopt?
  • You identify different types of racism. Explain the difference between interpersonal racism, institutional racism, internalized racism.
  • How do you prepare your children of color to face racism?
  • Importance of role models and support group of people of color.
  • Driving while Black (DWB) and Shopping while Black (SWB). You mention something that I think is important for parents to think through: their white friends won’t get it. They will think that it is a rare occurrence or that your child did something, perhaps innocently, to attract this negative attention.
  • Examples of how racism may be an issue in the school setting. School expectation for black or Hispanic children.
  • What are the stages of how children develop racial identity, and what exactly do we mean by “racial identity”?
  • Practical ideas for parents to help children form a healthy racial identity.
  • The importance of creating your home to reflect that a black person lives here. How does this differ from focusing on show vs. honoring diversity?

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Image Credit: Show Hope