Happy multicultural family having a nice summer day

 Ask Rene :
We’re Adopting A Child Of Color
And My In-Laws Are FREAKED!

I’ve been married for seven years. We are looking forward to starting a family, but I struggle with infertility. We’ve decided that we just want to be parents no matter what, so we are planning to adopt a baby of another race. When we shared this information with my in-laws, they flipped out, especially my mother-in-law. They both questioned whether this is the best thing for us. They said they weren’t sure if they could love an adopted child, much less one of another race. Rene, I’m completely devastated by this. I had no idea that my in-laws held these kinds of feelings. We are going forward with the adoption, but how should we handle things with them?

Upset in Utah

Dear UiU:

Before I answer this I have to disclose that my own husband is adopted. I have several friends who have adopted children as well so there’s a special place in my heart for parents who expand their families in this way. I can only imagine how you must be feeling; first the heartbreak of the infertility treatments, then hitting on a plan that you think will make everyone happy, only to be met with not just resistance but racism too.

I don’t have all the answers, but here’s what I would do if I were in your shoes.



I’m not saying this in an adversarial way, it’s just that sometimes when people have to actually say things aloud, the absurdity of their position is exposed. Having to actually put into words, “We don’t want a grandchild of color because we’re worried about what the neighbors will say,”  might make them see how ridiculous that is.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Kids trashed Me Online


Hand turning the word Unknown into Known with red marker isolated on white.

I suspect (or hope) that, like much of life (and in this day and age), your in-laws cool reception has more to do with the unknown and less to do with real racism. Instead of bristling at their reaction, think about the time and era they grew up in; perhaps they’re worried for your safety or that of your new baby. You can help them warm up to the idea by explaining what’s going to happen. You can share examples of trans-racial adoption and some of the support systems in place for parents who go that route.



word let it be on the packing paper box texture background

Now, here’s the hard part; your in-laws are either going to have to get on board or get lost. I don’t really mean get lost, but the fact is, they are going to be a part of your growing family or they are not. If they are not, that’s their choice; but you have to decide right now how you want to live your life. Oh and by the way, you’re raising this kid, not them.

Read more: Ask Rene: My Sister-In-Law Does Her Kids’ Homework!

At the end of the day this is YOUR choice. I hope the grandparents get onboard but even if they don’t, I’d encourage you to do what makes you happy. If that involves changing the course of a child’s life (and yours), then let no one, even the in-laws, stop you.

I’d love to open this up to other parents who have adopted children of a different race. Were you met with any resistance? What did you say or do?

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