Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2019

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22 Hudson Valley Parent n January 2019 honoring your child's heritage should last a lifetime. In the case of adopted children, never speak poorly about the biological family to the child even if you have reasons to validate your negative feelings. The goal is to inspire a feeling of connectedness and pride with the identity of where the child is from and who he is. "We had a mom who adopted a child of a different race and they had a seemingly regular family dynamic. As an adult in college she explored and connected with a group that were adopted like her and from the same area of the world. This opened a whole new world she did not even realize was out there," says Amy Drayer, foster and kinship care specialist at the By JAMIE LOBER P eople love to admire babies and children especially when they have some of the same features as their mom or dad. A child can have mom's red hair or dad's dimpled chin. These similarities are no longer the norm as many parents are raising kids who do not look like them. Take a biracial or adopted child and consider the questions they may face from adults and even their peers. As a parent, you must be prepared to walk your child through how to navigate these tough questions. Keep conversations going Have an age-appropriate conversation as early as possible. Mahopac mom Caren O'Brien Edwards explains, "At 3-years-old my daughter started to question why her skin color didn't match mine or my husband's. We all put our hands together and I explained to her that her skin color is a mixture of both her mommy's and daddy's." Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, director of outreach and advocacy at the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York in New Paltz insists that the truth should be highlighted no matter what. "Even if the child is not asking, he is thinking about it," says D'Arcy. O'Brien Edwards agrees, "Whenever questions arise about family, culture or ethnicity, we answer them honestly and directly." Honor your child's heritage Children want to know their history and your commitment to Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York in New Paltz. In O'Brien Edwards's interracial family, she makes sure that her daughter understands all parts of her heritage. "My daughter Marcella is proud of her West Indian, Italian and Irish heritage. She celebrates her cultures equally and cannot wait to visit the island of Tobago where her dad was born and raised," she says. The key to having a child of a different race is being an ally. "Genetic mirroring, or having role models that look like the child, could help build self-esteem in a healthy way," says D'Arcy. Interracial families: celebrating culture, navigating challenges Dealing with questions when your child doesn't look like you Caren O'Brien Edwards (left) thinks that we should all accept families for who they are. She approaches her daughter's (center) curiosity with honesty and encourages her to be proud of all the parts of her heritage.

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