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Cross-Cultural Adoption: The Dos and Don'ts

Many families in the United States choose to adopt children from other countries. To avoid uncomfortable situations, you must know how to approach the situation to avoid making a happy time into a time of hurt feelings. Here are some tips if you are planning to adopt a child from a country other than your own.


  1. Treat Your Adopted Child Like Your Own

    Adopted children need to feel as though they belong. They want to feel as though they are the biological children of their adoptive parents. You can make your child feel included without spoiling him or her. You just have to offer patience and consistency in your parenting style. As long as you offer love and devotion to your adopted child, you're more likely to have a better relationship over the long term.

  2. Support Your Child When Strangers Ask Questions

    When strangers ask questions about your son or daughter's ethnicity and adoption, you need to be prepared to handle their questions and help your child to answer questions about their situation when people raise hurtful questions. You need to learn to shift the conversation to avoid your child from being bombarded by misguided questions.

  3. Respect His or Her Privacy

    Adopted children have a right to privacy. They want to keep some aspects of their lives private and deserve not to be asked about certain things in their lives. Your child should not have to answer detailed questions about his or her origins. He or she may feel embarrassed. Being adopted should never become a source of embarrassment or shame.

  4. Respect and Celebrate Differences

    You should teach your child about the culture and history of his or her country of origin. Read books to educate yourself on about the country and culture to share the knowledge. You can also plan a trip to visit the country of origin to show your child that you embrace his or her cultural heritage.


  1. Treat Them Differently From Your Biological Children

    Introduce your child as if he or she were your biological child not as an adopted child. This may make him or her feel inferior. Your adopted child will never feel as if he or she is a part of the family if you do otherwise.

  2. Continuously Tell Them They Are Lucky

    If you tell adopted children they are "lucky" to be adopted for an extended period of time, they may feel like they are a charity case. They will eventually internalize the comments, and they will not feel as if they have a loving and supportive family.

  3. Adoption is Not Just a Second Choice

    Adoption is a first choice for many families, even though some other families may choose adoption because of infertility. Explain to your child the reasoning behind your choice to adopt. Never let your child assume that his or her adoption was a plan B.

  4. Don't Make Assumptions About the Child's Birth Mother

    Judgements about the child's birth mother should be kept to a minimum. This can damage a child emotionally over time.

Last Updated: April 02, 2024