5 Questions You Have About Transracial Adoption

Cropped shot of a homosexual couple spending time with their son outdoors

If you’re considering a transracial adoption in Pennsylvania, you probably have a lot of questions. Adoption can be a complicated process by itself, but when you choose to adopt a child of a different race or culture, there will be some unique challenges that you’ll need to prepare for.

One of the best ways to learn about the interracial adoption process is by talking to an adoption professional or other transracial adoptive families. At Bierly & Rabuck, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about transracial adoption.

To start your research, read through these common questions about interracial adoption in Pennsylvania.

  1. What is a transracial adoption, and how do you complete one?

A transracial adoption is any adoption where parents adopt a child who is of a different race or culture than them. This can be completed in virtually every kind of adoption: a private domestic infant adoption, a foster care adoption, an international adoption and more.

  1. What are the requirements to complete a transracial adoption in PA?

Adopting a child of a different race usually does not require any additional legal processes, which is good news for prospective adoptive parents. However, if you adopt a baby of Native American descent, you may need to comply with ICWA requirements. Likewise, adopting a child of a different race from another country will require you to adhere to international standards of the Hague convention and all the laws of the foreign country and the U.S. The lawyers at Bierly & Rabuck can walk you through what your legal transracial adoption process will look like based on your circumstances.
Another thing to know is that your home study provider will need to approve you to adopt a child of a certain race when they submit your home study. Your adoption professional will help you prepare for this process so you can properly address all of the concerns your social worker may have about a transracial adoption.

  1. How do I know if a transracial adoption is right for me?

Choosing a transracial adoption is a big commitment to make, so it’s important that you’re sure it’s the right choice for you. Obviously, doing your research and truly understanding the process will play a large role in knowing whether you want to pursue a transracial adoption. However, the people who generally choose a transracial adoption:

  • Want to add to their family regardless of physical similarities or race
  • Want to create a multicultural family where different traditions and histories are celebrated
  • Want to adopt a child from another country

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide if transracial adoption is right for you — so you should make sure you’re 100 percent prepared before committing to a process that will require a lot of time and effort.

  1. How can I prepare for an interracial adoption in PA?

As mentioned before, one of the most important things you can do to prepare for parenting a child of another race is to do your research. Talk to your adoption professional or a licensed social worker, or seek out adoption support groups or transracial adoption blogs for personal stories that will help you know what to expect.
After you are matched with a prospective birth mother or an adoption opportunity, you should do all you can to learn about your baby’s culture and heritage. If you’re completing a private domestic infant adoption, take advantage of open adoption communication to speak with your baby’s birth mother about how she wants her child to be raised and the particular cultural traditions that she wants passed down.
In addition to learning about your child’s heritage and culture, you’ll also need to learn about any specific needs they may have. For example, when a white parent adopts a black baby in Pennsylvania, they’ll need to learn more about how to properly care for the unique texture and style of African-American hair and skin.
Your adoption professional may be able to suggest training sessions and publications to further help you prepare for bringing home a child of a different race or culture.

  1. What are some transracial adoption pros and cons?

In many ways, transracial adoption is not much different than adopting a child of the same race or heritage as you; it involves many of the same benefits and challenges as any other adoption. However, transracial adoption is not always right for everyone. Here are some of the unique challenges of transracial adoption that may deter some from choosing this adoption path:

  • You will have to have conversations about race and challenge your own ideas. While your family will obviously see no differences between you and your transracially adopted child, that won’t always be the case with the rest of society. Your child will unfortunately encounter racism at some point in his or her life, and you must prepare them for how the rest of the world will see them. You’ll need to think about how to respond to certain insensitive questions like, “Where did they come from?” and “Why didn’t you try to adopt a child who looks like you?” as well as any questions your child gets from curious peers.


  • Your child’s feelings of “not belonging” may be more intense. Many adoptees go through a stage where they question why their birth mother placed them for adoption, no matter how loving and supportive their family is. This is a natural part of solidifying their identity as an adoptee, but when the differences are so obvious in appearance, it may shake your child’s confidence. Think about how your child will fit in at school; will they be surrounded by peers who look like them? Making sure your child feels part of a community may be more difficult when they’re a different race than you and the majority of your community — and may take substantially more effort.


  • Some prospective birth parents are wary of transracial adoptions. While there are plenty of prospective birth parents who are willing to place a child with parents of a different race, others are understandably nervous about doing so. You may need to take more effort in your adoptive family profile and meetings with potential birth parents to express your preparation and willingness to preserve a transracially adopted child’s heritage and culture.

You can learn more about individual challenges in transracial adoption by talking to people who have been through them.

As challenging as transracial adoption can be, there are also several rewards that come from adopting a child of a different race or culture, like:

  • Expanding your knowledge of other cultures and heritages. The U.S. is only becoming more diverse, and promoting tolerance and acceptance among your child, your family and all other people in your community is a great lesson to teach (and learn).


  • A shorter wait time. There are many prospective adoptive parents who wish to adopt a healthy Caucasian baby — and fewer who are open to adopting a non-white child or a child of mixed race. When you are open to an interracial adoption with a non-white infant, your family profile will be presented to more prospective birth mothers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be chosen for an adoption opportunity in a shorter amount of time.


  • Discovering what love truly is. When you adopt a child who doesn’t look like you, you learn quickly what it means to be a parent — to love your child no matter what. In a transracial or biracial adoption, you’ll become the best parent possible because of the additional steps you’ll take to provide your child with the best life possible.

Clearly, there are a lot of things to consider if you want to pursue a transracial adoption in Pennsylvania. And, while the process can be difficult at times, it’s immensely rewarding when you not only are able to hold your child in your arms for the first time but also grow as a parent and a person as you learn more about tolerance, diversity and acceptance.

Bierly & Rabuck can always refer you to the proper adoption professionals to start your adoption process, and we’ll be there to answer any questions you have about the legal process along the way. To learn more, please contact us today.