10 Ways You Might Be Letting Down Your Adopted Child

by Luanne

Do you have the best intentions to raise your adopted child in the best possible way you can?  If so, you’re like most of us adoptive parents.

In the case of international and transracial adoptions, the intentions can multiply, as do the mistakes made by parents.

Cheri Register, in her book Beyond Good Intentions, lists ten reasons adoptive parents who think they are being good parents often fall short.  In fact, we all fall short in some way or another.41JFR2MD2PL._SY300_

The book is organized according to these ten reasons, so I will list the chapter titles and gloss each one:

  1. Wiping Away Our Children’s Past–a child who is adopted is not a blank slate. She comes with a past, including the past before she was born.
  2. Hovering over Our “Troubled” Children–don’t pathologize your child.
  3. Holding the Lid on Sorrow and Anger–allow and encourage the expression of emotions in your home and don’t show your child that you don’t accept emotions or have to be protected from them.
  4. Parenting on the Defensive–if you’re defensive, you’re going to come off as angry at the child. You might do something dumb like tell her she ought to be grateful. See my recent grumpy post about that subject.
  5. Believing Race Doesn’t Matter–of course, race matters. We live in a race conscious world. Saying “I never see Lauren’s race” isn’t doing her any favors. She has to learn to live in the world the way it is. And her race is something to take pride in–not to ignore.
  6. Keeping Our Children Exotic–This is where sometimes people think “exotic” = cute. Your child isn’t an exotic pet.  Need I say more?
  7. Raising Our Children in Isolation–Children need to be raised in a diverse community. This is healthy for all children, no matter their race or if they are adoptees or not. But international and/or transracial adoptees, need this even more.  This is the one where my husband and I most let our kids down.
  8. Judging Our Country Superior–How does that make a child born in another country to people of another nationality feel pride and instill self-confidence?
  9. Believing Adoption Saves Souls–if you follow this logic to its conclusion you learn that God intended for your child to be torn away from her birth parents, culture, history, genetics, etc.–all to save her soul. How will that make her feel about the religion you bring her up in? Or about herself and her natural emotions?
  10. Appropriating Our Children’s Heritage–This is a big ick. If your child was born in China and you were born a white person in Philadelphia, don’t start to think you’re Chinese by adoption or by extension.  You’re not. It does your child no disservice to have you act like you think you are. It can be perceived as a colonialist attitude.

A huge thanks to blogger Menomama who directed me to this clear and well thought out book.


  1. Hands down one of the best books written to help raise the sensitivity level for people wanting to adopt transracially and internationally. I truly believe it should be part of every homestudy for families going this route. I didn’t read it until all our adoptions were completed and I’m glad I found it. It was a real eye-opener.

    • Yes, it’s a good book also because it’s short and so clearly organized. It makes for an easy read and also is easy to search for specific topics. That means more people will read and use the material.

  2. Reblogged this on Mom of the Heart and commented:
    Definitely a post worth reading

  3. Lisa Ercolano says:

    So grateful to you, Luanne, for saying what needs to be said. Honestly, even most of us parents who consider ourselves very aware of these things make big mistakes in this area, mainly due to our own insecurities and discomfort around being exposed to the raw emotion that adoptees can exhibit if they are allowed to express themselves. We don’t do them any favors by shutting this down. My theory is that it is almost always best to bring these things out into the light and air, and to let our kids know they are safe doing so with us.

  4. Great list! All good points and worth remembering. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I tried to erase the error of #7 that my parents made with me for my own biracial, Hapa children, but I now think that no matter how diverse the school, there will always be an element of prejudice. The best I can do for them is to prepare them for the inevitable.

  6. Three Pink Diamonds says:

    looks like an interesting book, will have to order a copy!

  7. These are all great points. Thanks for sharing. It gives me a lot to think about.

  8. Adopting a child is an important decision that requires
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    in fully adopting IFRS GAAP, this will result to more costs than benefits, although dependent on the nature and the
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  1. […] this quite some time ago but was reminded of it after reading another excellent post from Luanne at Don't We Look Alike. This entry was posted in Uncategorized.Bookmark the permalink. Leave a […]

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