Transracial Adoption: Talking About Race

Dawn Davenport


Interracial Adoption: Talking about Race

It’s tempting in interracial adoption to avoid talking about race because we want to believe that it doesn’t matter.

As interracial adoptive parents, we want our kids to feel good down to their very core about who they are and what they can be. We want our kids, as Dr. Martin L. King implored, to be valued by the world and by themselves for their character, not their skin color. It’s tempting to think that the best way to do this is to minimize race–strike up a Kumbaya chord and say we don’t notice race and race shouldn’t matter to our kids.

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, race matters. And it matters to African American kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids, and white kids.

Why is Talking About Race So Hard for White Folks?

I honestly don’t know the answer to why talking about race is so hard for us melanin-deprived folks, but I know that it is for most of us. I think we’re afraid of saying the wrong thing and appearing racist. As white parents of black and brown kids, we’re also afraid of messing up our kids by saying the wrong thing.

Kids Aren’t Colorblind

By about age two, children notice skin color. What’s more, research has shown that preschoolers are beginning to assign value to race. They pick up through their world and interactions that some skin colors are seen as better than others.  Parents need to be proactive in talking with our kids about race to prepare them for the realities of the world outside the safe borders of our home.

When to Have “The Race Talk”

Just as with the other biggies of parental talks– adoption and sex, there should not be “The Race Talk”. There should be many moments big and small when we talk about race starting when our kids are in diapers. Race should be a topic that is brought up without fanfare on a regular basis. We do this because we know that very young kids notice race, but we also do this because it helps us become more comfortable talking about the taboo subject of race. They won’t remember our awkwardness and mistakes in these early talks.

Check out this really great Creating a Family show on Transracial Adoption: How to Do It Well. Our guest are Beth Hall, Founder and Director of PACT, and co-author of Inside Transracial Adoption; and Natasha Sky, a multiracial woman and mother of four multiracial children, and founder of MultiracialSky: Resources for Multiracial Families.


How old were your kids when you started actively talking about race? Any specific resources you’d recommend?

Image credit: papermoons

07/11/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Transracial Adoption: Talking About Race

  1. Avatar Anna says:

    Beth Hall is so awesome!

  2. Avatar Robyn says:

    Dawn Davenport, what a coincidence! My blog post today is titled “About Race.” 🙂

  3. Avatar Anna says:

    interesting- I just really liked what she had to say in the interview, I thought she was spot on-

  4. Avatar Robyn says:

    I think a lot of what Beth says about transracial adoption has merit.

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