Can a mother duck raise a swan to swim like a swan? By educating herself about swans, telling her child about swans? Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall would suggest that she cannot. What she can do very well, however, is teach the young swan all the important things about how to be a bird. She can love him, and she can be his real mother. But to have him be comfortable as a swan, ultimately she will have to let him spend time with and learn from swans.
Steinberg and Hall are the authors of Inside Transracial Adoption(c.2000,Perspectives Press). Steinberg has four grown children who are Korean/American Indian, African-American, biracial and white. Hall is raising a daughter who is Latina and a son who is African-American. Hall and Steinberg are both white. They are cofounders of Pact, An Adoption Alliance , which both links U.S.-born children of color to adoptive homes and provides training workshops, literature and mentoring programs for adoptive families.
Inside Transracial Adoption (click here to purchase) is a thorough book on many aspects of developmental stages, of developing racial identity, developing family identity, family dynamics, acknowledging differences, adoptive families’ relationships with communities of color, brief presentation of information specific to various cultures and religions, and an annotated reading list on these topics. The book is, on one hand, very “meaty”. Although written in easy-to-read language, it is packed with information and contains many ideas which may be new or challenging. On the other hand, every chapter contains many personal experience stories which are fascinating reading. They are from adoptive parents, adopted children of color, their white siblings, adopted adults, and birthparents.
The book includes sections on families with both birth and adopted children, on single-parent adoptive families, foster families, and transracially adopted children becoming adults and parents.
The topics covered are diverse, but Steinberg and Hall’s basic philosophy is that transracial adoption can work beautifully, as their own families show, and that children need solid connections with both their family and with adults and peers of their ethnicity. The book concludes with “A Transracially-Adopted Child’s Bill of Rights” (written by the author’s daughter) and “A Transracial Adoptive Parent’s Wish List”.
I found this book well worth reading. It affirmed some things I’m doing, challenged me to stretch myself a bit more, and hopefully prepared me a little better for what lies ahead as my children grow.
To read more about transracial adoption, visit the Adoption Blog here at Families.com and click on “Transracial Adoption”.