Transracial Adoption and Your Adoption Profile Book

Hello, friend.

Here you are at a defining moment in your adoption journey.

You’ve completed your homestudy, and now you’re considering or have chosen Arrow & Root to help you create a beautiful adoption profile book.

If you’re like my family, you are open to adopting transracially, adding a (big) layer to complexity to adoption, and subsequent parenting, experience.

We started our first adoption journey over twelve years ago. This was back before there were computer programs, and there certainly weren’t profile book services. Social media was brand-new and no one had a smart phone. Adopting “back in the day” was drastically different than now.

Picture this. My first profile book was created by me using cardstock, stickers, scissors, sticky tabs, and spiral binding. Yes, friends. I hand-scrapbooked our first adoption profile book.

Today we have four children, all of whom were adopted domestically, as infants, via open and transracial adoption. And I’m here to help you on your own journey.

First, I want you to make sure you’re educated on the intricacies and realities of multiracial family life. I strongly believe you shouldn’t choose a path you know nothing about!

And please, keep getting educated. This is a life-long commitment, not a linear journey with a finish line.

You might wonder how you can prepare and what you can do when you adopt transracially. I’ve got you covered. This is a topic I’m passionate about (because I live it, every day!). You can check out several of my posts, including ways to support your transracial adoptee, the best books for teaching your Black child about #BlackExcellence, and teaching your young transracial adoptee about race.

Second, I since you’re educated on transracial adoption and committed to never stop learning, changing, and growing, I want to ask you an important question:

How do you plan to demonstrate your willingness and readiness in your profile book?

Your profile book, as you know, is critically important in your adoption journey. It’s a catalyst to parenthood. It’s your opportunity to show who you are, what matters to you, and how you plan to raise your future child or children.

When you choose to be open to adopting transracially, you need to have a plan. It’s not enough to be open-minded and open-hearted. Kids of color need woke, engaged parents who are committed to doing what’s best for their kids, always.

Can I be honest with you? Touting colorblindness isn’t going to work. Trying to skirt the hard stuff isn’t going to work either. Kids of color grow up to be adults of color, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know race in America is a big deal and has been for centuries.

Plus, when you and your child do not racially match, you’re going to garner some attention. I say some, but sometimes, it’s a lot of attention. We are often asked questions such as: Are your children real siblings? What country are they from? Do they have the same parents? Were their birth parents young/on drugs/sexually promiscuous? How much did your children cost? Are they in foster care?

Because a transracial adoption means an (often) obvious adoption, multiracial families are often approached and “interrogated.”

I don’t share this to scare you. I’m educating you on the realities.

Now, let’s get back to it.

So, what is your plan for your future child, friend?

When you know what your plan is, you can work with Mallory to effectively convey that plan in your profile book.

Of course, I’m not going to leave you hangin’.

How can you create a profile book with transracial adoption in mind?

I recommend considering conveying the answers to the following questions when creating your adoption profile book:

-Do you have any family members and/or friends of color?

-Do you attend a house of worship? What is the racial demographic there?

-Do you live in a racially diverse neighborhood? Town? Are there local events or facilities that celebrate people of color?

-What is the local school student populations like? What about teachers and administrators? Consider preschool and elementary school years.

-Is your place of employment racially diverse?

-How close do you live to extracurricular activity facilities, restaurants, stores, parks, etc. that house a diverse population?

-Do you have any professionals of color in your lives? Doctors, for example? Do you have a pediatrician chosen for your future child?

-Where do you stand politically and on issues such as social justice, pay equality, etc.?

-Whom will provide child care for your baby? A daycare, sitter, nanny?

-How do you intend to instill racial confidence in a child of color? Will you have a mentor for your child in the future, for example? A hair braider or barber?

-What are your plans for openness in an adoption situation? (Your child’s birth family may provide not only the biological connection, but also a race and culture connection.)

-What racially cultural traditions or holidays would you consider incorporating into your multiracial family life?

-Have you had any profound experiences that have shaped your beliefs about race?

I know. This list of questions can be overwhelming. But you need to be willing to “go there” with confidence, because if you parent a child of color, you’re going to need that confidence, bravery, humility, and transparency. Forever.

With eyes wide open, you can be the mom or dad your future child needs you to be.

Love, Rachel

Rachel Garlinghouse is the author of White Sugar Brown Sugar, a platform focusing on adoption, race, health, faith, and motherhood. Rachel is the proud mama of four kids, all of whom were adopted with her husband of sixteen years. Her experiences have been shared on Scary Mommy, CNN, MSNBC, Babble, NPR, CBS,, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, and many more. When Rachel isn’t writing and doing media appearances, she can be found in her home, hair in a top knot, dancing with her babies in the kitchen, and sipping coffee. Read more on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and her site. Check out her latest book, The Hopeful Mom’s Guide to Adoption: The Wit and Wisdom You Need for the Journey.


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