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Transracial Adoptees – Common Challenges & How to Cope

A transracial adoption, or interracial adoption, takes place any time a family adopts a child of a race other than their own.

Although many adoptees feel very positively towards their adoptions, some adoptees may struggle with negative issues as a result of their adoption. Transracial adoptees may experience many of the same benefits and difficulties that are typical of someone who was adopted, but you may also encounter challenges that are unique to someone who was adopted transracially.

Common Issues for Transracial Adoptees

Three of the most common challenges for people adopted transracially include:

A Lack of Diversity

Sometimes, as a transracial adoptee, you’re the only member of your family of your race. Sometimes you’re the only member of your race within your neighborhood, in your school, in your workplace, or in your community.

This lack of diversity can place unwanted focus on physical differences for a transracial adoptee, which can sometimes bring up feelings of shyness, low self-esteem, self-consciousness or disconnect from your racial or cultural heritage. Some adoptees confess to feeling different from their peers, leading to a sense of alienation. For transracial adoptees, this feeling can be heightened if there is a lack of diversity.


Some adoptive parents misguidedly believe that the race of their child does not matter. Love may not see color, but the world definitely does. Transracial adoptees and their families know that racism does exist, and it should never be ignored. Most acts of racism are small, and can take the form of comments such as, “Where is she really from?” Or, “He is so lucky!” And, “Are you two real brothers?”

This is particularly hard for transracial adoptees who visibly stand out from their family or peers and have to bear the brunt of ignorance surrounding race and adoption in addition to the pain of everyday racism.

Struggling with Racial and Cultural Self-Identity

Our race and culture are an important part of our identity as an individual and in our communities. Some adoptees struggle with their sense of identity, but a transracial adoptee has the additional challenge of navigating potentially complex racial and cultural identities.

Coming to understand your identity as an adoptee, understanding your racial identity, understanding your identity within your community, and understanding your identity within a family of a race other than your own can all be complicated issues for transracial adoptees to sort through.

How to Cope with These Issues

As a transracial adoptee, educating yourself about some of these unique difficulties and about your racial heritage can help you develop a healthier sense of identity. There are also many steps adoptive families can take to prepare themselves and their children for the challenges of transracial adoption and to support their child as they explore these complex issues.

Here are three basic ways to address the common issues that transracial adoptees face:

Connecting with Other Transracially Adopted People

You may find a sense of community with other transracial adoptees who have shared similar experiences. Connecting through blogs where transracial adoptees tell their stories, talking with other interracial families, starting support groups or participating in meetups can all be ways to meet people who know the joys and frustrations that are unique to transracial adoptees.

Immersing Yourself in a Diverse Community

Transracial adoptees should make efforts to surround themselves with others of their own race and of many different races and cultures. Growing up feeling or looking different from the people around you can be very difficult for transracial adoptees. Choosing diverse schools, community groups, faith groups, neighborhoods and workplaces can all be healthy ways for a transracial adoptee to find a racially diverse community.

Acknowledging Racism

Hopefully, your parents openly talked about race and culture with you and helped to prepare you for the racism that exists in our society. Continuing to educate yourself and participate in conversations about racial issues as a transracial adoptee is the best way to tackle these problems.

While adoptees share many experiences, transracial adoptees have their own unique set of struggles and joys. All transracial adoptees deserve love and support while they explore their adoption journey and work through any adoption issues they may encounter.