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Review: Inside Transracial Adoption

Inside Transracial Adoption
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Inside Transracial Adoption


When parents adopt across racial and cultural lines, it is not enough to naively state "we don't see color" or to expect to be able to insulate their children from issues related to race, culture, adoption and ethnicity.

Parents who adopt transracially/culturally face many unique challenges that will come up all during their children's lives. Inside Transracial Adoption aims to give them tools to prepare for these challenges and help their children navigate all of these issues, as well.

Subjects in the book include:

  • Racial identity development
  • Confronting racism and our own white privilege
  • Seeking diversity
  • Handling outsiders' questions and comments
  • Strengthening family identity
  • Transracial parenting strategies
  • Religious choices and beliefs
  • Child development and issues that may come up at each stage
  • Issues specific to some cultures
  • Issues specific to different types of adoption
  • Plus much more

Authors Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg write from the perspectives of decades of work as transracial adoption advocates and also as parents who have adopted transracially. Hall is the mother of a grown Latina daughter and African American son. Steinberg's grown children have Korean/Native American, African American and white heritage. The book is filled with their stories, along with stories from the perspectives of transracially adopted children themselves and insights from members of ethnic and racial communities.

This is an excellent book that does not gloss over the very real issues of transracial adoption. The authors work hard to give white parents a real understanding of the very different perspective their children will be growing up with, and how vital it is that they acknowledge the struggles their children will face and become their educated allies in dealing with them.

In "Confronting Racism and Our Own White Privilege," they write:

No one can live in an environment "diverse enough" or "friendly enough" or "good enough" to protect children of color from the hurt of racism. Discrimination hurts everyone, but white parents are especially susceptible to being taken aback by racist experiences, because they don't anticipate them. To successfully support their children of color, white parents must take an honest look at their own blind spots and biases, in order to become effective anti-racist allies.

Throughout the book, the needs and best interests of the children are the priority. The authors give many examples to show the perspectives of children of transracial adoption and give parenting strategies that are healthy, positive and loving.

For example, they say that time outs "teach children that if they misbehave they will be cut off from parental connection and love, even if only for the short term" and they point out that this can be especially triggering for adopted children.

They write,

Even during the hardest moments, it is critical for adoptive parents to find a way to stay connected and affirm that while they may not approve of their child's behavior, they see past the behavior to the person, and will always accept and love that person unconditionally.

Inside Transracial Adoption covers so many issues that white parents might never anticipate, and offers so many perspectives to help understand these issues. This is an incredibly helpful, thorough, important book for parents who are adopting a child from a different race or culture.

The book retails for $24.95 and is widely available online at stores such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

It can also be purchased through the authors' non-profit advocacy organization, Pact, whose mission is: "Serving adopted children of color by providing not only adoptive placement but lifelong education, support, and community for adoptees and their families on matters of adoption and race."

I highly recommend Inside Transracial Adoption for all families who have adopted or are considering adopting transracially/culturally, as well as for adoption professionals and adoptees.

(I received a copy of this book for review purposes, but no compensation for this review. This post contains no affiliate links. All opinions are my own.)

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