Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child: Making Sense of the Past

By Betsy Keefer; Jayne E. Schooler et al. | Go to book overview

cult situation with both grace and good judgment. At the conclusion of such a teaching dialogue, parents should ask if the child feels there is anything the parents should do. The child should be secure in parental support, but allowed to handle unfairness without adult intervention whenever possible. Through these incidents and the "teachable moments" that follow, children can develop more sophisticated survival skills and a sense that they can cope with discrimination in the future.


Adolescents

Issues related to self-image and dating often surface for the transracially adopted teenager. "The development of body image and the successful assimilation of that body image into the psyche is an essential element of adolescent identity formation. It is critical for the development of positive body image that teens of color have role models that reflect body styles similar to their own. If a teen has no such personal experience, he will be at the mercy of the media's representations of people of the child's race or ethnicity."16

Dating can be problematic for transracially adopted teens, who may find barriers in dating others who are white, but may feel uncomfortable with, or lack access to, potential dating partners of color. Discussion and exploration of feelings about dating are critical for the transracially adopted teen. "The important thing in putting talk into the air is not whether the teenager responds or agrees, but that he or she hears the talk," Randolph Severson comments. "The psyche is such an extraordinary 'continuous learner' that it cannot help but assimilate every new datum of information in its lifelong quest for truth."17


SUMMARY

Foster and adoptive parents should celebrate the rewards that diversity through transcultural and/or transracial parenting brings into their lives. Few persons of a majority race or culture have the tremendous opportunities for personal growth afforded to those individuals who benefit from this challenge.

Robin's mother, Dot, has the following advice for a new generation of transracial adoptive parents:

Be honest and open; it's the unknown that kids can't handle.
Stay closely integrated in the child's culture. Seek out relationships and connections that will assist your child in maintaining an understanding of and attachment to his or her culture.

-150-

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