Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


Ask the Expert: Deborah Johnson on Parenting Transracially

In each issue of Adoptive Families, Deborah Johnson offers smart adoption advice on parenting a transracial family. A social worker of 25 years whose clients number in the thousands, and an adult adoptee from Korea, Deborah walks parents step-by-step through talking to children about race, preparing an older child for the dating world, squashing stereotypes at school, and more. Browse past articles by Deborah here, and for even more on the topic, go to our Transracial Adoption page.

Have a parenting question for our expert? Submit it now!

Expert Answers

• “We have always been 'color-blind' about race. Is this the best attitude for us, now that we're a transracial family?" Read more.

• “How can we begin a new life as a multicultural family--and encourage loved ones to do the same?" Read more.

• “We've been told we should diversify our family's friends, now that we're parenting a 10-year-old son from Ethiopia. How do we begin?” Read more.

• “How should I react when I'm asked a personal question by someone I don't know, someone of my child's racial background?” Read more.

• “Our nine-year-old son prefers soccer to cultural activities—but we want him to be proud of his Korean heritage. What’s the right balance?Read more.

Submit your question
about transracial parenting
to Deborah now!

• "I want my child to be able to handle racism when he’s older. What’s the best way to prepare him?" Read more.

• "We’re ready to talk to our child, who is black, about racism before she starts school. What should we say?" Read more.

• “Our 14-year-old daughter is starting high school this fall. What might we expect in terms of dating?” Read more.

• “A child told my 10-year-old son that he’s not smart because he’s black. Do I intervene—or let him handle it himself?” Read more.

• “Our daughter, adopted from China, isn’t getting the help she needs in math class. What can we do?” Read more.

When Preschoolers Ask about Race

Answering Questions about Non-Identical Children

5 Ways to Talk with Your Child About Racism

• "My son told me that he was tired of having to explain himself wherever he goes. Why is this happening?" Read more about preparing teens for questions about adoption.

Racism Explained to My Daughter, by Tahar Ben Jelloun
"When our children ask about racism, we often wince internally, left momentarily speechless. How often, as a parent, do you long for a script when those wondering eyes are fixed on you?"...

Outsiders Within, ed. by Jane Jeong Trenka, Julia Chinyere Oparah, and Sun Yung Shin
"After describing a racist encounter, one writer admits what she wishes her mother had taught her: Their home may have been colorblind, but the outside world is not"...

The Language of Blood, by Jane Jeong Trenka
"Much more than a memoir. this storehouse of insights, truth-telling, and well-articulated joys and pain can serve as a conduit to insights into our own families, to open up those conversations we’ve been meaning to have"...



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