Cross-Cultural Adoption Dos and Don'ts

Adopting a child from a different country can be a rewarding experience for you and your family. However, not everyone will respond to your decision in an open-minded and tolerant manner. If you have adopted transracially, or if you know of parents with children from a different heritage, Dr. Phil says there are several dos and don'ts to consider as you celebrate that child's differences. DOS Do treat your son or daughter like any other child. You shouldn't treat your child as inferior or superior because they hail from a different culture. Do support your child when curious strangers ask questions. If a stranger inquires about your child's background, Dr. Phil says it's fine to reply, "Yes, isn't she wonderful? She comes from such a wonderful culture!" Do respect your child's privacy. Are you unsure how to handle intrusive questions about your reasons for adopting? Dr. Phil offers the following tips: If they ask, "'Where did you get her?' That's something you may not want to share with a stranger and talk about her like she isn't even there,'" he says. "It's great to just scoop her up and say to the other person, 'You know what? I'm really not comfortable talking about that with you.'" Do treat prospective adoptive parents the same as expectant parents. If someone you know is bringing home a child from another country, treat that person as if they were bringing a baby home from the hospital. You may plan a baby shower or celebrate the child's arrival with presents. Do acknowledge and celebrate differences. You shouldn't pretend that your adoptive child has the same racial features as you and your family. To help your son or daughter appreciate the beauty of his or her heritage, provide toys and dolls reflective of that culture. DON'TS Don't introduce your child as adopted. The child should be referred to as your son or daughter. Don't assume adoption is a second choice. People choose to adopt transracially for many reasons. Don't assume that adoption is an inferior choice to being a biological parent, or that the parents felt the need to "rescue" a child from a Third World country. Don't jump to conclusions about the birth mother. Don't ask questions about why the child's biological mother placed him or her for adoption. Instead, choose to regard the adoptive parents as the lucky ones for welcoming a beautiful son or daughter into their home. Don't tell parents they'll have a child on their own. Don't regard the adoption process as inferior to giving birth. Not every woman is able to conceive, and many women consider the adoption process as rewarding as carrying a child.ed life," Dr. Phil says. Treat others the way you expect to be treated.

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