November is National Adoption Month. If you’re adopting, or in the process of adopting, or even just wanting to know more–we want to make sure you feel supported. That’s why today we are excited to feature a local mother who is sharing her family’s adoption process story.
Amanda talks with us about her family and what led them to adoption, as well as the adoption process itself and what that was like. She is also sharing about transracial adoption and how she and her family prepared for it.
We are so thankful that she’s sharing her family’s story with us today, and we hope that you learn more about transracial adoption and the adoption process through reading what the journey was like for her and her family.
Can you tell us a little about your family, and what led you to adoption?
“My husband and I have been married 13.5 years and have seven other members that make up what we consider our family. Adoption or foster care never really came up as something we had planned for. Not that it was off the table, it just never came up as young parents navigating kids and a marriage.
“After our three biological kids and a series of clicks on social media, I ended up on video of a teen on MARE and his one wish was a family, like many of the kids on there. As I’m crying, I called my husband over and told him, “They just want a family, we have a family.” He said to inquire and get more information. Before we knew it, we were connected with an agency and orientation, and we were on our way to being licensed as foster parents.
“We decided to open our home to fostering needs while we were waiting to match with a teen. Everything aligned so perfectly and divinely that we felt confident in God’s plan for our family. We ended up signing up for a meet and greet where we matched with our son when he was 14 years old. Now, he will be 18 years old in two short weeks.”
Was there anything about the adoption process that surprised you?
“You hear about adoptions being costly and I actually get that a lot: “I’d love to do what you do but couldn’t afford to adopt.” But from foster care, it’s close to nothing or free.”
What was difficult about the adoption process?
“Our adoption took a little over a year because we were in the thick of COVID. Because [of] the length of the adoption process, paperwork here and there would lapse, so there [were] always updates needed. We had two adoption workers from two different counties so things we ran into were uncommon. Overall, nothing was too difficult in the adoption process, just long.”
How did your family prepare to adopt transracially?
“It’s important to not be colorblind. To use positive verbiage, to celebrate racial diversity in the home, and create a safe place for your children to feel valued and comfortable in their skin. Speaking to your family and having people around your kids who support your views so you’re not doing damage control.
“We went to a seminar called “Raising Black Boys” that was packed with great information. Actually, I think this seminar should enter schools to access and reach more families. Not only how to raise, but support our Black son, which could be used to support our Black brothers and sisters. Always investing and learning how to improve ourselves so that we don’t end up with blinders on to things that don’t affect us personally, is critical for mankind.
“Saying you have a Black friend or coworker is not enough to be equipped for a transracial adoption. We asked our extended family to watch “The Hate You Give” to bring up topics and educate where needed. We’ve always had open topics with our kids including diverse books, shows, toys, and art. It’s important for all families to embrace diversity in a multi-racial world, but even more so if you have a transracial family.
“It’s important for the kids to see items or imagery they can relate to, to feel comfortable with their identity. Embracing their culture and having topics more than one month a year. We made sure to have an older male for our son who shared the same racial identity to be a mentor or someone he could go to, who [he] could relate to or look up to. Even though we can empathize as parents, our kids need someone to mirror and relate to.
“Before his first visit home, we made sure to have pictures of him framed to see that he belonged. Belonging is so important. Consider your art. [Are] your Jesus and Santa white? Understanding the difference in personal care needs. That your kids need to connect with others who share their racial background. We explored two different churches for more diversity and let our child pick a place he felt most comfortable. Staying educated on the good and the bad will better prepare you when the time comes to help your child with challenges that they may face throughout life.”
How did you prepare to have hard conversations about race with your son?
“It goes back to education. Always having healthy communication and being able to listen to your child’s needs or issues. Letting them know they have someone they can go to outside of you–a trusted resource if you might not be the one to best help them on a certain topic–and realizing that’s normal and okay. Community is key because it truly takes a village to raise our youth.”
Can you share some guidance for other families who may be on the same journey through the adoption process?
“You can’t have “too many” resources. Being licensed for foster care was so beneficial because our teen could live with us as a foster home placement from his current living situation while we navigated the adoption process.
“Joining a support group, having dates or a friend circle with other adoptive families who can relate and understand. It felt a little isolating when I only had mom friends with biological kids. Being open to listening and learning because there isn’t one set way to navigate this journey. There are highs and lows but adoption is a beautiful journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
What resources are available for families?
Amanda recommended a few resources for families:
- Cole Speaks: Cole is someone who spoke at “Raising Black Boys” and is an advocate for Black boys and men. Cole also talks about the stigma around mental health in Black males and [being] often only accepted to show two emotions.
- Anti-Racism with Children Playlist: resources for talking with older and younger children about anti-racism.
- 6 things to DO on your journey as an anti-racist parent: a helpful resource providing ideas for talking with your children about these topics.
–Guest submission from Amanda Olsen