My sister, Hannah, is the best.
We have a super special community we hang out with pretty consistently, who understand—to some extent or entirely—what it is like to be a multicultural/transracial/interracial (whatever you want to call us) family. If they are not a transracial (adoptive or foster) family, most of their friends are, and they work to be aware of what that means.
Transracial = across racial lines.
As I shared in my interview with OPB of NPR, we are absolutely not colorblind—we are "color aware."
It's a huge gift to have a community who understands us, looks like us, lives like us.
But what about friends or family who haven't adopted, fostered, or become a transracial/multicultural family? Are there ways for them to support their friends who have adopted transracially, or are currently adopting transracially? I had many people reach out to me, asking how they can support their friends who had adopted transracially.
Hannah is one of my favorite people because she is absolutely one of our best supporters. She is one of our safest people for my kids, who has not adopted transracially, and I am blown away at the friend she is to me, and the aunt she is to our boys.
Here are three ways you can be as awesome as my sister and support your friends/family who have or are adopting transracially:
- Fight colorblindness and celebrate culture.
First, that's not even a thing when you're not literally colorblind. What do you do at a stop light? I mean, come on now. We aren't a colorblind people and we weren't created to be. God made people of many shades, many skin tones, many cultures, and nations. That's beautiful!
A huge way to be a great support to your friend who has or is adopting transracially, is by recognizing and celebrating culture. Why?
"Choosing to 'ignore' cultures and color says there is a default; the default ends up being whiteness. Whiteness being a default means whiteness is the standard, which means anything other than white is less than. This makes white supreme.
Pretending our child is our same race and culture when he isn’t feeds the systemic racism that white should be default and standard. Therefore, “colorblindness” is the complete opposite of helpful. Denying his race and culture embeds shame into these giant pieces of his identity, normalizes racism, and tells him his blackness is something to be ashamed of. Ignoring race silently screams his blackness is less than, blackness shouldn’t be noticed or celebrated. Being 'color and culture blind' subconsciously weaves white supremacy into our lives and minds." —This Undeserved Life excerpt
Our words matter, our hearts matter, our thought processes matter. Begin thinking through and processing subconscious beliefs and biases you may have, and fight to disrupt them.
When respecting culture it’s incredibly important not to appropriate that culture. Me as a white person researching and presenting others cultures is not enough—we need to find leadership by people who live in the culture of our children.
Your white friends who adopted outside of their race should be looking for community outside of their white community (if they didn't have a diverse community already), and this includes churches. You cannot be offended or hurt when this happens, they need to do it for their children.
- Representation matters in your gift giving.
Maybe your friend's new child is of Latino descent. So! You get to shop for a Latino doll or toy set! Maybe your friend's new child is Black or Asian — look for toys, books, movies, gifts that represent and celebrate their culture and their ethnicity. I assure you they don't need yet another white doll, only-white-characters in their books, or a movie with the main character being white. This can go all the way from Black Santa, to stamps on the card, to cards themselves, dolls, books and more.
Stores have come a long way (and still have a ways to go!) in offering various ethnicities in their toys, diapers boxes, cards, books, etcetera. If you cannot find something at Target, look online.
If your friends/family come over to your house, be sure your toys and books and movies also represent their children. This speaks volumes to your friends and shows their children they are valuable and worth being represented.
I also love shops like Truth & Gold. They are a family of color owned business who love Jesus. Their mission statement is: "Affirming the next generation in who they are, celebrating the color of their skin and seeking justice for all." All of their tees celebrate diversity!
I reached out to over 1,500 parents in transracial famillies, asking them one way a friend or family member has been a support in their family. Their answers? Gifts and cards representing their children.
Love this book by Matthew Paul Turner.
See my Amazon List for quite a few other suggestions.
Check out: Why + What We Read to Our Toddlers
- Simply engage in (honest and) supportive conversations with them.
Depending on where you live, it can get a bit lonely. Hopefully your friends have community and friends with families that mirror theirs. Hopefully your friends have friends matching their children's ethnicity.
But even having a great community who mirrors ours, it can still get lonely wondering if your friends and family who haven't adopted transracially will ever "get it."
"Is it uncomfortable leaving behind all I thought I knew, even when most of my family and childhood friends remain in those spaces of belief? Yes. It is uncomfortable. It is another form of loss. I lost the comfort of seeing eye-to-eye with a lot of my family, with people who helped raise me, with previous pastors and leaders and mentors. I lost the comfort of agreeing and solidarity, in thinking we saw the world the same, and viewed Jesus equally. This loss is a loss I chose, but a loss I cannot go without." —This Undeserved Life excerpt
You can simply ask them if they have many family members who understand or "get it," pertaining to raising a child of color. You can ask them their stance or thoughts on kneeling for the flag or how they view it and why. This may launch you into a great conversation where they get to feel seen, understood, and cared for. As long as your heart is to be supportive and hear them out, not argue and debate and show them how they should feel.
We all want to love our friends and family well, right!? I hope so! I know I do. I hope this list was helpful to you and gives you some ideas of how to support your friends who have or are adopting transracially.
Next week I'm sharing a Q&A post of our most asked questions regarding adoption. Don't miss it!
Disclaimer: this post is written by a white mama and is geared towards white friends who have other white friends, raising children of color. All races and ethnicities adopt outside of their race, and I'm sure these apply to them as well.
You may also like: 7 Ways to Celebrate Your Child's Race and Honoring Your Child’s Birth Culture: Cultural Art To Add to Your Home
Resources for all: Be The Bridge to Racial Unity
Read Rhonda Roorda's book to understand your friend's children a bit more: In Their Voices: Black Americans On Transracial Adoption
This month is National Adoption Awareness Month! This means we are doing a ton of fun giveaways and sharing about adoption. If you haven't read this post, I Knew I Loved You Before I Knew You or watched this video, be sure to catch up!
In the mean time, hop on over to my Instagram and be ready for our giveaways. This week we are giving away $25 to our shop AND a signed copy of This Undeserved Life. You are free to use promo code ADOPTIONISLOVE for 20% off our shop as well as my books.