Group photo time.
Everyone line up. Smile. Be beautiful.
When you view the group photo, what is the first thing you do?
You’re going to look for yourself in the picture.
You want to see yourself.
When you go out into society—work, school, shopping—you continue to look for yourselves.
You also look for people who represent you.
You notice others “like” you.
You want to see yourself represented.
When your child walks into a church or a classroom, they want to see someone they can identify with.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be racial identification. Humans can identify with others because they are both musicians, Christians, athletes, young, old.
But if a child of color walks into classroom after classroom and rarely sees someone who looks like themselves in that environment, then there is a missing link. Then race may be what they most identify with.
We do not live in a race-neutral culture. If you plan to adopt a child of another nationality, this is a reality you need to accept.
In the United States, approximately 40 percent of adopted children are being raised by parents of a different race, culture, or ethnicity.
Please, listen to this TedTalk by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, President Emerita of Spelman College, Clinical Psychologist, and best-selling author.
She discusses how children need an opportunity to talk about race or racism in a meaningful way.
“In a race-conscious society,” she said, “we all have a racial identity that develops in predictable ways, shaped largely by the interactions we have with others. I still believe that an understanding of that identity-development process can help all of us begin to build bridges across lines of difference.”
Earliest Race Memory
Tatum continues by saying when she asks people about their earliest racial memories, most respondents tell her theirs happened around 5-7 years old – kindergarten through first grade – and that the emotions they associate with those memories are overwhelmingly negative: shame, and fear, and confusion. Further, that when the experience that triggered these memories happened, people did not talk to anyone about it, which can reinforce the idea that race is something we are not supposed to have conversations about, and that idea sticks with us into adult life. For transracial adoptees, identity-development can be particularly challenging if their adoptive parents aren’t sure how to broach conversations centered in race and culture, or are unaware of how vital those conversations are.
You’ll want to educate yourself on how to discuss race even if you aren’t planning on a transracial adoption.