Adopting Embryos of a Different Ethnicity Than Your Own

Trans-ethnic adoption is an issue to be addressed in any adoption. Adopting an embryo trans-ethnically can force a couple to consider a new and very different comfort zone.

Most families do not consider a trans-ethnic adoption of embryos because they will be experiencing a pregnancy and giving birth to a child. This experience is as close to having biological children as any adoption can be. The initial reaction of most is that the children we give birth to should look like us or at least be the same ethnicity or combination thereof as the parents.  Embryo adoption is unusual enough, and to ask families to consider a trans-ethnic adoption may cause pause. A very long pause. A family’s emotional capacity could be stretched; yet, for some, trans-ethnic adoption could be the very right decision.

First, embryo adoption as with all adoptions, is not to create children for couples. As with all adoption, it is a means to allow children to grow in a loving family. Second, some embryos, as with some orphans, wait longer for a family because of their race/ethnicity. Unlike other children, they are faceless and nameless. Their cute little faces do not have the chance to say, “Yes, I look different from you, but I sure am adorable.” These embryos, like all orphans, need a family to love them.

Even for families who more than eagerly would adopt across ethnic lines, the idea of delivering a baby outside of their ethnicity would cause concern of what the experience would be like and the reaction of others.

A white woman in a store with a black or bi-racial child may experience that ever-so-familiar “look” that says, “So you had a child with a man of another ethnicity! How could you?” A mother of a child adopted through embryo adoption may experience this when she delivers her child. Imagine the faces of the hospital staff, quite alarmed that a white woman is delivering a Filipino, black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American child. The staff’s sensibilities could be further tweaked when a middle-class white woman, with a white husband, produces such a child! If you have great confidence and a sense of humor, you will be like any other trans-ethnic adoptive family— conspicuous in expressing yourselves as a multi-ethnic family.

Even if you do not adopt trans-ethnically, in an embryo adoption, as with nearly any other adoption, your child may not look like you. He may eventually tower over you; he may have brown eyes, when both you and your spouse have blue eyes. His hair may be dark and curly while yours is straight and blond. He will be your child regardless.

All children give us an opportunity to grow. They give us a chance to express God’s love and character. Adopting an embryo is a strong statement as to how you feel about pre-born life. Adopting outside of your ethnicity could be a further indication of the strength and courage you have within and how you choose to express it in word and deed.

Random Acts of Kindness Week

 

Do you find yourself feeling that wintery gloom looming and are you itching for spring? Has the cold and dreary weather caused your spirit to feel just as dreary as the weather seems outside? Sometimes we need a little challenge/encouragement to help us dump that cold swirling mix of gloom, sadness, and self-focus and fill our empty cup with a whole lot of joy. How can you do that today?

Unbeknownst to many, February 17th was Random Acts of Kindness Day and begins the Random Acts of Kindness Week. I’m not sure that this week is well-known or as celebrated as it should be, what with Valentine’s Day getting so much more attention—sharing the same week.

When did it start? Apparently, the day was founded a little while after a woman by the name of Ann Herbert, while working in a restaurant in Sausalito, California wrote the words “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat in 1982 (a good-hearted antonym to the common phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty”). From this, bumper stickers were created with the phrase and then a book was written, compiling true stories of acts of kindness, called Random Acts of Kindness. Radio Stations began giving attention to the ideas shared within the book. Articles began to appear in almost every newspaper in the US. Towards the end of 1993, a professor in CA decided to assign his students the task of showing acts of kindness in the community. And from then on, various waves of people have continued to celebrate this special week. Headquartered in Denver, CO and founded in 1995, is a nonprofit called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK). They believe that by “spreading kindness throughout schools, communities and homes [this] power of kindness [can] change the way people see and experience the world”.

When will you start? I think we can definitely emphasize Random Acts of Kindness Day a little more by celebrating it with our children and instilling in them the importance of showing love and a little bit of kindness to those around them. Turn your focus outward by guiding their focus outward as well! This is such a helpful tool in giving us the practical steps we need to start filling our cup back up with joy. Consider how you can teach them some wonderful principles that Jesus taught us in Scripture—that of putting others first, selflessness, noticing needs of others, bearing one another’s burdens and many aspects of biblical love found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Oh the good it will do your own heart while spreading love and kindness to those around you.

Need some inspiration? I love how Laura, a mom to a combination of biological, foster, and adopted children), shares on her blog called Pitter Patter Art, her tradition of celebrating Kindness Advent every year around Christmas time. The tradition started as she was experiencing deep grief over the loss of a loved one, and decided to turn her focus outward as well! She has some wonderful ideas and is very creative in how she organizes and plans each year. Laura shares some helpful ideas that can be useful in jump starting your own creative juices and get them flowing to plan a Kindness Advent of your own. This doesn’t have to happen just at Christmas, or even around Valentines Day—choose any given month to purposefully focus on others. Help your children get into a rhythm of loving on people and “throwing some kindness around like confetti”—because, when you choose to be like Christ, and choose to put others first, you will in fact experience a joy that is found nowhere else.

 

 

Looking for helpful resources to get you started?

Official Random Acts of Kindness Website: Get Inspired

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/get-inspired

Laura’s Pitter Patter Blog with Advent Ideas from 2016

http://pitterpatterart.com/kindness-advent-2017/

Laura’s Pitter Patter Blog with Advent Ideas from 2017

http://pitterpatterart.com/kindness-advent-2016/

Nightlight’s Pinterest Board: Random Acts of Kindness

https://www.pinterest.com/nightlightadopt/random-acts-of-kindness-ideas/

How We Celebrate Chinese New Year

 

Chinese New Year is upon us! February 16th marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebrations around the world for 2018. If you are not familiar with Chinese New Year it is an annual festival that’s not only celebrated in China but also by many other nationalities. Some celebrations last as long as 15 days so we wanted to share some special ways to observe this special holiday with your family.

Chinese New Year can be especially meaningful for families who have adopted children from China. It is so vital that adoptive parents find ways to embrace the culture of their home country and celebrate their child’s rich heritage within their home. In order to research some of the best ways to participate in Chinese New Year festivities, I turned to some of our adoptive families to get ideas of special ways they have enjoyed celebrating this time of year with their children.

One adoptive mom, Anne, shared that their church has a big annual Chinese New Year celebration. Many of the people who come wear special Chinese outfits. They decorate the fellowship hall in red and yellow-gold. At last year’s celebration one of the Chinese men in the church made over 700 homemade dumplings! They have a potluck meal in which anyone in the community that wants to come is welcome to come and join in the festivities. She shared the picture below of their special gathering and I could not help but be moved by the beautiful smiles of so many individuals and families who set aside this time to celebrate the rich foods and customs of this Chinese holiday together. I can’t help but think of each child represented and the memories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives about how special these gatherings were.

 

Anne also recommended this book, Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin about a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. In the book each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. The book beautifully illustrates the fireworks, lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year.

Another adoptive mom, Penny, shared traditions that they have developed to celebrate Chinese New Year since welcoming three precious children from China into their family. Each year their family sets aside a day to make lanterns to hang around their home. Construction paper or decorated scrapbook paper can be used to make these beautiful and festive lanterns. Here is a link that gives instructions for making lanterns and this is a craft that will be fun for all ages.

Two of Penny’s daughters are pictured below in their traditional silk dresses. We always recommend families picking out traditional Chinese clothes when they travel to China for their adoptions and purchase clothes in various sizes for their children to enjoy as they grow! Having dresses such as these to wear for Chinese New Year celebrations (or any time they wish!) can be such a special gift for adopted children.

In addition, when their kids were younger Penny would go to their classes and read a Chinese New Year book to give her children’s classmates information about the history and customs that make this holiday so special for Chinese families. Here is a link for some great books that teach small children about this special holiday.

And lastly, Penny shared that they save some sparklers from New Years Eve and light those on Chinese New Year as well. Penny shared the following:

I was so impressed to hear from an adoptive mom who wanted to share about one way they are celebrating Chinese New year for the first time after recently bringing their son, Langston, home from China. One custom that Brandy found that they could incorporate was that of hong bao which is an iconic symbol of Chinese New Year. A Chinese red envelope is simply an ornate red pocket of paper the size of an index card that holds money and it’s customary to leave the red envelope with two tangerines by a child’s bedside on New Year’s Eve. Brandy shared that they we worked on making red envelopes to put money in for Langston’s classmates (they shared $1). Langston was so excited about making these special envelopes and about sharing this custom with his new friends.

Another adoptive mom, Amanda, shared that they are hosting their own Chinese New Year celebration at their house for several other families that they know who have also adopted from China. They are having Chinese takeout, doing crafts with the kids with red envelopes, and have planned for some other activities that pertain to Chinese culture.

If you know of other families in your community that would want to celebrate with you but are not sure about preparing a huge meal yourself then why not invite each family to bring one dish from a local Chinese restaurant? What a fantastic (and affordable!) way to celebrate with other families in your community! If you have some helpful articles or ideas you would like to share on this topic, please submit in the comments below!

 

Here are a few other links with helpful hints about ways to celebrate Chinese New Year within your family and communities:

https://chinesenewyear2018.com/

https://www.leadtochina.com/travel/adoption-resource/how-to-celebrate-chinese-new-year-for-adoptive-families-202

Honoring Your Child’s Culture and Heritage

As we are celebrating Black History Month in February, it seemed timely to discuss ways that foster or adoptive parents can honor their child’s culture, heritage, and racial identity. This is not only something that is recommended for transracial families, but it is essential. Children have a deep desire to know their history and to have a strong sense of identity in who God made them. It is our responsibility as their parents to not only discuss issues related to race but to instill a sense of pride in our child regarding their rich heritage.

I recently got in touch with one of our adoptive families who welcomed their sweet, beautiful Eden into their family as a newborn over two years ago. When I asked Eden’s mother about the biggest lesson they’ve learned in becoming a transracial family, Ashley shared the following:

We have learned the importance of continuing to learn and being intentional! It’s so important to celebrate our daughter’s heritage. We want to honor the unique beauty God has given her while at the same time showing her “mirrors,” or people who look like her. We have chosen to be intentional in honoring our daughter’s culture and heritage. It won’t happen naturally, so it is something we have to seek out to make it a regular part of our lives. Do your homework! Have books, dolls, and resources in your house that honor his or her heritage. Follow social media accounts that celebrate or mirror your child’s culture. But most importantly, find actual people! Is there a festival in your town? A restaurant? A more diverse playground? A place of worship? Go! Make new friends! 

 

This transracial family life is a journey. I don’t have the advantage of having growing up in [my child’s] culture. There’s no way I could learn a lifetime of history, information, or hair care in a day. (Although, I could try! Hello, YouTube!) But give yourself grace. That’s where those newfound friends can be invaluable! If I take the posture of a student, I’ve yet to find someone who isn’t willing to teach, share, or encourage.

What honest, heartfelt, and beautiful advice! The fact is that honoring your foster or adoptive child’s culture or heritage is something that every parent needs to prioritize in their home and within their family. Some elements will come easier than others. There are times that you will feel out of your comfort zone. There are times when you will want to seek out proud and successful men or women of color for advice on how to raise your son or daughter. Asking for help in this way can be scary, but the reward can be so great.

In speaking with Eden’s mother, Ashley regarding the hardest lesson their family has learned in becoming a transracial family she shared the following:

It took having a child of a different race to care deeply about racial tension, divides, and injustices… And the evolution in my heart doesn’t automatically mean my family and friends have evolved, too. If you’re like me, you’ve read, studied, and listened to all the podcasts on transracial adoption. Chances are your friends and family have logged zero hours doing the same. Give them some grace, too. Sometimes- most of the time- this friction means having hard conversations to share what you’ve learned or how their words could be insensitive to your child. Sometimes (hopefully rarely) it means distancing yourself from some friends. Working toward unity is worth the effort! 

Do you have questions related to celebrating your child’s heritage or culture? Are there specific elements of this topic that you would like to address more directly? Please give us feedback so that we can share information that will be helpful to you.

Other resources you may find helpful are as follows:

Young Adult Transracial Adoptees Talk about Adoption– A podcast from the perspective of the adoptee. The host interviews four black adoptees in their twenties who were raised by white parents about their experience with transracial adoption.

Transracial Adoption: Talking About Race– an article regarding the importance of talking about race with your adopted child, including a link to the podcast “Transracial Adoption: Doing It Well.”

Raising a Child of Another Race– An article about instilling racial pride in adopted kids

Books on Transracial Adoption– this is a list of books that discuss issues related to transracial adoption.

Adopting Embryos Who Are a Different Ethnicity Than You

Our openness to adopting a child of a different ethnicity than our own really began years ago, when we knew God was putting Japan on our hearts. At the time, we didn’t realize that this growing interest in Japanese culture and love for Japanese people would have anything to do with adoption, let alone embryo adoption. Years later, as we prayed about whether God wanted us to adopt, we also prayed about who God would have us adopt. We felt led to consider the possibility of adopting from a family with Japanese heritage.

The idea of adopting a child with a different ethnicity was exciting, but also raised some inevitable questions. Would our child wish we shared the same ethnic background? Would ethnic differences only add to the potentially complex feelings faced by the child?

Confirmation came to both of us in different ways, through scripture verses and a sermon. We both felt God saying that when He puts a family together, ethnicity isn’t a hindrance. In a beautiful photo – from a sermon PowerPoint – of babies of all different ethnicities sitting together, God seemed to clearly speak to our hearts that He sees each one as His child, and He has a home for each child. We felt completely at peace from that point forward. God had answered our biggest questions and shown us His heart for adoption.

We were so thrilled when there was a genetic family with Japanese heritage that was interested in us! We loved reading about them and knew right away that they were the ones for us.

During the pregnancy and with the birth of our daughter, we have felt such a strong bond of love with her – a bond that would be no stronger had she been our genetic daughter. We are both so proud to be her parents. We are grateful to God for how He has put our family together, and every day we enjoy the blessing of our precious daughter.