A Prospective Parent Writes:
I am white, single and adopting three of my foster kids, one of whom is black. The other two are white half-brothers. I have many questions:
- First-I read in a book about transracial adoption that I will have to prepare my son for discrimination and teach him how to respond. He is two years old now, but I would like to know what to tell him and his brothers about racism, discrimination, and how to respond.
- Second-I have some books with black kids in them, but I wonder what recommendations you have for other books, toys, etc. that I should give the boys (I want all three of them to read the books and play with the toys)
- Third-I read another parent’s question where it was recommended that parents adopt a second black child. I’m not sure I can do this just yet, but I have been thinking about it.
John Raible answers:
An excellent resource for anti-racist education at the pre-school level is the ABC Curriculum by Louise Derman-Sparks. The best people to teach your son about how to handle discrimination as he grows up are other people of color who have themselves lived the experience. Just as mothers have special information to impart to daughters about surviving in a “man’s world,” African American adults can share crucial insights and coping skills with black children to deal with life in a color-conscious society. This is why it is essential that you live in a multiracial (if not predominantly African American) neighborhood, and fill your friendship and social networks with a diversity of people, all of whom can populate the village it will take to raise your children.
It is wonderful that you are collecting multicultural books not just for your black son-to-be, but for all your children. There are too many resource out there these days to name here, but talk to a good children’s librarian for starters. Also see Pact’s Booksource, a comprehensive reference guide to books on adoption and/or race, www.pactadopt.org/booksource/. Toys are somewhat harder to find, but if more parents request multicultural toys from the big toy manufacturers, things will continue to change, following supply and demand theory. Independent African American and other minority companies have catalogues and maybe websites where you can order culturally appropriate toys and dolls.
I believe that more than another adopted sibling, what transracially adopted children need in their lives are adults of color. It is comforting to not be the only one who looks different, perhaps, but the important information and perspectives come form culturally aware grown-ups who can be co-parents, mentors, uncles and aunties, and other necessary role models as your children develop.
Michelle Johnson Answers:
Your son will indeed need your assistance in navigating a host of issues related to his ethnicity and adoption. John’s advice is right on in terms of adult interaction. Children also need to begin to socialize with peers of their own age, as this will also aid in their sense of being accepted in their community of origin. The sooner this begins, the easier it will be for all your children, as you must live this recognition that you are now a multicultural family. As for additional resources, John is also correct in stating there are a host out there. For you and others who might be having difficulty locating ones that speak to you personally, here are a few more. Good luck and happy exploring
- Boys into Men: Raising Our African American Teenage Sons, by Nancy Boyd-Franklin, et al., (hardcover, May 2000)
- I’m Chocolate, Your’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World, by Marguerite A. Wright (paper, 1998)
- Black Males: An African American View on Raising Young Men, by Harvey Alston (paper, 1994)
- Saving Our Sons: Raising Black Children in a Turbulent World, by Marita Golden (paper, 1996)
- Raising Black Children: Two Leading Psychiatrists Confront the Educational, Social, and Emotional Problems Facing Black Children, by james Comer, et al. (paper, 1992)
- 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Show Read, http://www.nea.org/grants/29510.htm
Online Toys, Dolls and Games:
Multicultural Kids http://multiculturalkids.com/index.html