Based on the book by Amy Ford

Helping adoptive parents with advice and experience in raising children of different ethnicity.

Top 10 Things White Parents Need to Know When Raising African American Children

  1. Darker skin is drier than lighter skin
    Expect to use a generous amount of lotion daily. Find a brand with the least amount of water content in order to maximize the amount of hydration.

  2. Sandboxes are not your friend
    Sandboxes are not your friend It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to remove sand from your child’s hair. Avoid the sandbox until you are ready for the challenge.

  3. Limit Your Child’s Exposure to Water 
    Your child’s hair is naturally dry and washing their hair as often as you wash your own will cause the hair to dry even more and break. Hair washing once per week is fine.
  4. Hair is Huge 
    Your child’s hair is nothing like your own. Your child’s hair is nothing like your own, don’t treat it as such.
    • Wash weekly with a hydrating shampoo
    • Condition, Condition, Condition
    • Oil
    • Comb for boys, brush for girls
    • Silk Scarf for girls overnight

  5. Do what it takes to master the hair 
    The hair of a minority child is an expression of cultural pride and is directly linked to self-esteem.
  6. White Privilege 
    You have it, your child doesn’t. White privilege is the undeserved, unprompted advantages afforded to whites in this country in the areas of banking, education, and society.

  7. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions 
    Not everyone in your life will support your decision to parent a child of a different race. You may lose some friends or family members. Can you handle it?
  8. Be prepared to become a minority
    Adopting a child of a different race automatically moves you into minority status. Gone are the days of being anonymous. Prepare yourself for the attention coming your way. It is helpful to practice how you will respond to questions about the unique nature of your family. Decide as a family how much information you are comfortable sharing. 

  9. Racism is wide spread in this country in ways that may not be visible until you accept a child of a different race into your family. It may take a while for you to feel it or see it, but your child will feel it immediately. It is part of his every day experience. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening. Embrace the differences and celebrate the likenesses. 
  10. Your African American child has needs you cannot meet. It truly takes a village to raise a child and never has it been truer than in raising one of a different race. Your child has physical, cultural, and emotional needs that you cannot meet without taking the time to build a support system. Look to churches, sports teams, parenting groups, child care workers, teachers, and play groups for support.

Ron Replies: I am currently working on a seminar on Adoption Clinical Skills concerning transracial adoptions and thought this could be helpful to prospective adoptive parents.

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