All families are unique, but blended transracial families become a more interesting example of how love and commitment can bind even the most different of people. Families who adopted from a different race and culture (often referred to as blended families) include not just people of different personalities but people who have different skin and hair color. The cultures and family histories may also be vastly different. There may be a combination of children by natural birth and by adoption, or adopted children from different races and cultures. Nevertheless, blended families who made A Act of Love to adopt are families in every sense of the word, with their struggles and triumphs.
Here are some of the sources of conflicts and struggles in blended families:
– Obvious Differences. Children who have been adopted transracially have this sense of being different. This feeling of being “set apart”, along with the unwanted attention it generates can be uncomfortable at best or even hurtful to the child.
– Conflict between siblings. Siblings have a natural love-hate relationship. However, siblings that come from different backgrounds may take this love-hate relationship to a new level due to the differences in their culture and appearance.
– Loss of privacy. For blended families, curious, annoying and sometimes insulting questions and comments from other people are the norm, rather than the exception. Your public outings may elicit stares from others. Complete strangers may come up to express an unsolicited opinion.
Some Tips to Help Make Blended Families Work
– Communicate, communicate, communicate. In other words, engage the members of the family who will be most affected – any existing children you have either naturally or through adoption. Talk to them about their feelings and fears about a new sibling, especially when the new addition may be so different from them. Read stories about adoption and transracial families. Take every opportunity to get him involved with the adoption process and excited with the prospect of a new sibling.
– Prepare yourself. Ask, “Am I committed to building a transracial family? Am I a great resource of celebration and joy over my children’s uniqueness and differences? Can I receive questions about my children with good humor or at least tolerate them?” Parents have a key role in helping each child handle the issues of a transracial family with composure and humor.
– Teach your children to recognize that the ties that bind them are as strong as any other. If you have a combination of children by birth and by adoption, the former may feel superior over the latter. This same issue may also be present with siblings where one sibling is more similar in appearance to you than the other sibling. Your key role is to reinforce that however each child came into your family; he is a cherished member and stands equal with the rest of the siblings.
– Recognize and even celebrate diversity. Rather than pretending that all your children are from the same background, you can acknowledge that there is indeed a difference and that these differences should be a cause for celebration for the family. Read up on your child’s culture and find opportunities to honor your child’s cultural heritage by observing some aspects of that culture such as food, customs and holidays.
– Treat each child equally. Even as you celebrate one child’s cultural heritage, make sure you do the same for all children. Be alert and fight against the impulse to treat a child differently because he was adopted or has come from a different background or culture.
– Get support. Join a support group that also has a number of transracial families, especially with families who have children from the same culture and race as some of your children. You can gather regularly to share insights about your families and how best you can handle specific situations. Your children will also do well to see that you are not the only family that has members from different races and cultures.
– Prepare your children. Rather than sugar-coating the fact that your family gets some unwanted attention because of your uniqueness, discuss how they can best respond to the attention.