In light of the recent disaster in Haiti, the issue of cross-cultural adoption has come to the forefront of my thoughts again. It is something that I have often considered, but which I also have hesitations about. I think the idea of adoption is marvelous, although not necessarily easy. However, when the adoption in question involves parents of one race or culture adopting a child of another race or culture, that's when things get blurred for me. Is it better to allow children to have an opportunity for a good life (taking them out of an orphanage), even if they are taken out of their mother culture? Away from their mother tongue? Especially in the case of white couples adopting non-white children, is the isolation and identity crisis those children may face outweighed by the opportunity at a better life...?

If you or someone close to you has adopted a child of another race/culture, or if you were adopted yourself, I would love to know your thoughts.

Thank you.

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I went through a period of time when I was considering this issue as well, and talked to a number of parents of different race adopted children, as well as the children themselves. Although all the children I spoke with affirmed their love for their families, almost universally was a lack of self-identity. Not quite being white, yet not feeling they belonged to their own racial group either.

I came across a website that addresses adjustment and ethnic identity issues and conflicts that adopted Asian children have, growing up in White families. I found it very interesting and was particularly intrigued in a video they mentioned called Adopted – The Movie, which interviews parents and the Asian children they adopted. The trailer makes your heart skip a beat for its honesty and the emotions that are played out on the screen. http://www.asian-nation.org/adopted.shtml http://www.adoptedthemovie.com/adopted-trailer/

Hi Janice,

Thank you for sharing that. I will check out those websites definitely. I was rather afraid of that very thing....the lack of identity or the identity crisis.....



"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

I think it is better to allow children to have an opportunity for a good life. Though I think Janice has made some important points based on her experience I think what matters is that the individual should turn out to be good and that can be made possible by good circumstances and upbringing that is what orphanages lack.

Kashmir had no orphanges earlier but the armed struggle produced too many orphans so that the social structure was unable to handle them leading to mushrooming of orphanages. One of the first orphangaes in Kashmir stopped taking children after sometime as they felt it was not good for the children. So they started rehabiliating kids in the home of relatives and others instead.


Hi Nusrat,

Thank you for your comments! It is interesting to think about orphanages in the context of India, which has such close family ties. And you bring up a good point...often there are other relatives to care for the child but they cannot afford it! How did the orphanages start doing that (supporting families) in Kashmir?

Kind regards,


"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

By taking care of the costs of the child. It is like supporting a child in a family. The org said it did not want them to grow rootless. It wanted them to have a sense of belonging.

One more interesting thing here is that here we call a fatherless child an orphan as well. So the org supports the mother who is usually not earning or even if she is it is very little.


Hi Rachel, I know a number of people who have either been adopted into a different race and culture than they were born into or have adopted children from other races/cultures than their own. In all instances the parents made a concerted effort to bridge the gap between cultures and teach their adopted children about their original heritage. One friend even travels regularly with her child to their original country as well as attends religious services of her adopted child's heritage in their own community here in the US. Therefore the adopted child is brought up in a country where she has a "better" life (healthcare, safety, education, opportunity) and is still surrounded by people, faith and culture from her original community. It is wonderful to see.

I think some children who are adopted cross culturally struggle somewhat with an idea of identity and belonging. But then I have also known a few people who were adopted into families and communities of their own race and heritage and they also suffered with a confused sense of identity and belonging - "why did my parents give me up?"

I don't think that adoption is ideal under any circumstances but cross cultural adoption is a great alternative to life spent unable to be cared for, in an orphanage or on the streets.

Interesting topic Tina

Hi Tina,

Thank you for your thoughts. It is interesting to think about children being adopted into same culture/race and still the identity question comes up, which seems natural of course. And I do know many people who are well educated and culturally responsive, who would do a great job at bridging that gap as much as they could. What I worry about, being white and mainly living in white communities (Oregon isn't very diverse), is children who are not white feeling isolated. But again, I think you're right that the new parents can try and bridge that gap as much as possible.....

Kind regards,


"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Hi Rachel! My heart aches just the thought of children separated from their parents or being orphaned due to various circumstances. I know how hard for children growing in a foreign country due to racial and cultural differences. When they grow up they will always seek out their roots and their identity. I understand that couples adopt children for so many reasons and one common reason is they have no kids of their own or they want to help the orphaned children have a better future.

For me, adoption is always a last recourse and cross cultural adoption will be my last option. Wanting to help an orphaned kids can be done in so many ways - like sponsoring a child or helping the families to raise their children . The best I would do is to help the community provide support services to this kids and help them grow in a community not alien to them, a community where they can feel they still belong , a community where they can feel its still their home.

I still believe that children is not only a responsibility of parents , it is a responsibility of the government . The government must protect the children and the orphans. With problems of pedophiles, child abuse, child trafficking, child prostitution - I feel I couldn't trust our government to ensure or guarantee our orphaned children for cross cultural adoption. I'm scared if they are really sincere couples who want to adopt our orphaned children.

love, Malaya

best regards, Malaya

Hello Malaya,

Thank you for your thoughts on this! It is such a difficult subject and there doesn't seem to be any right answer! I agree with you though that if families can be supported to take care of their children, even extended family, and the child doesn't have to enter into a strange home (be it cross cultural or not!) then I agree that is best. I know more people who have adopted from abroad, than who have adopted from their home countries though. I am not sure why this is! Again, thank you for your thoughts.

kind regards,


"Tell me then, what will you do with your one wild, sweet, and precious life?" -Mary Oliver