Microaggressions and Transracial Adoption

What Is a Microaggression?

Unfortunately, many adoptive parents and adopted children become accustomed to hearing and witnessing “microaggressions”.

These seemingly unintentional or offhand slights imply a child’s adopted status (or parent’s adoptive status) or race reflects some form of inferiority. Individually, or in aggregate, microaggressions can be withering.

Microaggressions Towards Adopted Children and Adoptive Parents

All members of the adoption triad (adoptee, adoptive parents, birth parents) are likely to experience microaggressions based upon the fact they’re involved with an adoption.

Comments that indicate that the adoptee should be grateful (thus minimizing their loss) or that the adoptive family is somehow less legitimate than biological families are common, as well as slights toward the birth family that reinforces a shameful stigma.

Being confronted with a microaggression can be traumatizing, and watching a loved one (e.g. child or parent) try to handle them can be especially painful. Below are examples of microaggressions that are both common and deeply hurtful. They can come from friends, relatives, co-workers, and strangers.

There’s little data on how best to prepare your family for adoption-oriented microaggressions, but most experts believe talking at an early age with your children is a good idea and can help dismantle the stigma of secrecy by normalizing adoption.

Again, below is the data on how adoptees quality of life scores broken down by the age they learned they were adopted and corrected for coping mechanisms available at each age.

Many experts agree as adopted children grow up, they face complex questions around identity and loss. Visits with a therapist from an early age can help children build a “scaffolding” to wrestle with these questions in a healthy way.

Microaggressions Towards Minorities

Children who are racial minorities can be subjected to hundreds of microaggressions per month (English, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology).

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child maintain a healthy self-esteem and teach them how to handle and respond to these intentional and unintentional slights.

However, since 40% of US adoptions are “transracial”, many adoptive parents have little first-hand experience dealing with the subject matter, let alone guiding their child.

To address the subject, experts tend to favor two powerful tools: “cultural socialization” and “preparation for bias training”. Both have data that corroborate they improve a child’s self-esteem, sense of identity, and ability to cope.

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Adoption

In this course we cover the costs for domestic infant adoption, as well as the timelines, crucial steps and major decisions to be weighed. We also focus on post-adoption aspects namely levels of openness with birth parents, coping with microaggressions and how this process can look for single and LGBTQ adoptive parents. Finally, we take a high-level look at the process of intercountry adoption.