Friday, November 2, 2012

What NOT to say to Transracial Families

My post on adoption insensitivity continues to draw 10-50 hits a week despite being more than 10 months old. This is clearly an important topic that strikes a chord for many people.

Today, please watch this brief video. It's only 3 minutes long. In case you don't get sarcasm... note that the point is NOT to say these things. 

Perhaps you recognize yourself in some of these comments. Maybe you've never said some of the blatantly callous things but perhaps you've said something seemingly complimentary like, "Ethiopian babies are so beautiful." 

How might you alter your questions and comments in the future? More importantly, how will you educate your own children so they don't say hurtful things to friends or classmates?

Do you want to learn more?
Try these blogs:
They're all my Own, by my friend Alison Noyce

Rage Against the Mini Van and this other post from Rage Against the Mini Van, by Kristen Howerton, one of the co-creators of this video

Jillian Lauren, video co-creator (Please be sure to read the comments to this post. They clarify some points).


  1. Love it!! "Wow - so you can just, like name a kid anything?" "What's his American name?"..... Do folks actually say these things? I know that with my own name, I'm constantly asked for the meaning and how I came by that name....but I don't mind at all - a chance to educate folks.

    Thanks Michelle!

    Be Well!


    1. Otha,
      Sadly, yes, these kinds of questions are asked all the time.

      There's something in the way the question is asked, isn't there? I remember asking you about the origin of your name- I had never heard it before so I was interested. But I'd hope my inquiry was heard as an attempt to learn more about you rather than as judgement or something. Certainly friendships are deepened when we know each other's story.

      My friend Alison tells me she can recognize how a person feels by tone and body language and that affects how she responds. I'm certain that's true. When we were first getting to know each other, I asked questions about her son (adopted from Ethiopia). It made sense to talk about our kids because that's how we met- they were in preschool together. She tells me she recognized my inquiries as me wanting to know their story in order to know them better.