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Most interracial adoption cases involve white parents adopting kids of colour, as Frank Ligtvoet writes in his op-ed for The New York Times. Such is the case in Ligtvoet’s family: two white dads raising two black kids in Brooklyn, N.Y.

And from what he’s learned raising their 7-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, he feels strongly that white parents need to move beyond only considering love and actively think and act about race and racism while raising kids of colour. In fact, he founded a group for parents to address this.

In his Times piece, Ligtvoet begins his article by telling a story of taking his kids to their neighbourhood Brooklyn mall, where most shoppers are black. He watches his son push his shorts lower, as baggy as he dares, and his daughter show off newly-purchased purple boots with silver stars. He walks behind his children, giving them their independence and realizing: “This is the first time in their lives they are asserting their blackness in a black environment, maybe not in opposition to but in conscious separation from the whiteness of my male partner and me.”

Though the comments criticize Ligtvoet for mistaking stereotypes (baggy shorts) for components of black culture, Ligtvoet makes the point white parents raising kids of colour  need to develop a new way of thinking about race:

“Raising kids of color by white parents is not just a matter of love; it requires a racial consciousness that is common in families of color, but rarely developed in white families. And it needs an understanding that one’s family is not only challenged by the centrifugal force of the adoptive identity of the children, but also by the tensions of their broken cultural and racial identity.”


Regardless of your family structure, Ligtvoet’s article is a thought-provoking read about the impact of racism within an intimate family environment, and how parents can be allies to their kids. Read Ligtvoet’s full article here and compare his take with the US Child Welfare Department’s advice here regarding transracial adoption.

Source: The New York Times

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