Americans choose to adopt children for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are unable to conceive children of their own. Other couples choose to give a home to a child who is already in the world and does not have parents.

In some cases, it's important for people to adopt a child who is of their own race, ethnicity and nationality. However, many couples and single people would prefer to give a home to a child from another country. This often means that the child doesn't "look" like them and perhaps has been raised in a very different culture.

Valuing a Child's Culture While Teaching a New One

This can present challenges, both for children and parents, even as our country grows increasingly more multicultural. For many adoptive parents, it's important to ensure that their adopted children appreciate their birth heritage while acclimating to the world in which they are now living. There are numerous support groups to help parents who adopt a child of another race, religion and/or culture.

It's also essential that adoptive parents teach their children how to deal with the inevitable questions, stares and sometimes cruelty that anyone who is perceived as "different" has to endure. Sometimes these questions and comments are made out of ignorance or curiosity. Other times, they are borne of prejudice and just plan meanness.

Are You Up to the Challenge?

If you are considering adopting a child who is of a different race, ethnicity, religion, from another country and/or who has a physical or mental disability, it's essential to be honest with yourself about your own prejudices. We all have them. It's also essential to ask yourself whether you are equipped to deal with (and more importantly, to help your child deal with) the attention and negativity that you will all no doubt have to endure at some point.

Your adoption attorney can likely provide resources to help you explore these questions before you adopt and to deal with them after you've adopted a child. He or she can, of course, also lead you through the often lengthy, complicated adoption process, whether it is domestic or international, and help make it go as smoothly as possible for both you and your new child.

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