Transracial Adoption Success Story
When a birth mother hears about transracial adoption, there may be feelings of worry surrounding how her child will remember and learn about his or her birth family and community. This valid concern is not always met with an easy answer or solution. Many transracial adoptees may not grow up to know about their birth families and cultures, which can lead to poor self- esteem and feelings of isolation within their adoptive families.
Yet, there are just as many transracial adoptees who have had positive experiences with their adoptive families, who have prioritized the adoptee’s cultural identity. This week Adoption Choices of Kansas and Missouri will be discussing a transracial adoption success story and what has made it successful. Today, we will be hearing Elisa’s story that highlights important points that have contributed to her success as a transracial adoptee.
Having a Relationship with the Birth Mother and Birth Community
Elisa was adopted at the age of three by her adoptive parents, David and Joan, and was raised in Vermont. Elisa was not talkative at first, as she took in her new surroundings, home and family. Even before Elisa began to talk, her adoptive parents showed her photos of her birth mother, explaining to Elisa who her birth mother is and how she is doing. David and Joan decided to have and maintain communication with Elisa’s birth mother as they established their adoption agreement and started their adoption journey together. Through the exchange of letters and photos, David and Joan were able to talk and share news about Elisa with her birth mother, and vise versa, as Elisa grew up.
By having her adoptive parents welcome any questions, Elisa did not have to wonder who her birth mother was, what she was like, or about her birth culture. Elisa’s birth mother had an active role and presence in her life and her adoptive parents’ lives. Through this, Elisa learned the significance of her birth culture and developed a strong and healthy sense of identity as she grew up. She didn’t have to struggle with feelings of loss and guilt, or put up emotional barriers, because she had the answers readily available to her..
Adoptive Parents Supporting their Transracial Adoptee’s Cultural Identity
Beyond David and Joan establishing and maintaining communication with her birth mother, they welcomed Elisa’s identity and culture. They did not forget, erase or remove her identity and culture. To protect and nurture Elisa, they put their interests and concerns aside. They cultivated an environment that protected her against bigotry and promoted belonging. They acknowledged that race and culture matter.
Being connected to one’s culture and heritage is essential for transracial adoptees. Elisa’s adoptive parents asked themselves before starting on their lifelong adoption journey, why do we want to adopt? They also took time to research and understand the culture she came from. The most important holidays, the food and what life was like within her birth culture. This helped them better connect not only with Elisa, but also her birth mother. Before adopting Elisa, David and Joan thought about what their child will need to live and flourish in the world and how they could have their own transracial adoption success story. One of the many essential things they committed to doing was recognizing and respecting the birth mother’s want to be a part of her child’s life.
Finding Role Models that Uplift
Elisa’s adoptive family made an effort to find role models in their community that were successful, which showed Elisa that she could be successful too. Having successful role models in her life as she grew up allowed Elisa to see and realize that she is worthy of success. That stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination are wrong, and that the negative narratives perpetrated in society are not true. Having good role models also helped Elisa further connect with her culture and continually foster a positive sense of belonging and community. Role models also helped Elisa further to validate her adoption story as a transracial adoptee. Elisa grew up to know that she is her own person and not a child that her adoptive parents saved.
The Secret to Transracial Adoption Success
All adoptee stories are unique, and Elisa’s story shares with us a few things that made her adoption successful. Her adoptive parents put Elisa first. This made a significant impact on how their adoption journey turned into a transracial adoption success story. Elisa’s adoptive parents were not afraid to ask for help, paid attention to representation in their community and school and checked their biases. They also had open communication with Elisa’s birth mother, which allowed them to develop a relationship with her, and further strengthen their relationship with Elisa.
Everyone has a different definition of success, but one of the most important factors of adoption success is always putting the interests of your child first. To not place your personal agenda before your child.
Adoption Choices of Kansas and Missouri serves birth parents statewide and beyond, please call us or text us to learn more! Call us toll free at 1-877-903-4488 or, in Missouri call or text us at (816) 527-9800; in Kansas call or text us at (316) 209 2071
Meet the Author: Melissa Benedek is currently a junior at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. She is a Literature major with interest in American regional writing. One of her on-campus jobs focuses on organizing volunteer opportunities with local partnerships for students. She is also a founding editor of Sonnet Literary Magazine based out of her college campus.
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