Project Parenthood

Tips for White parents raising Black children with Abby Hasberry

Episode Summary

You’re going to hear about how to prepare your Black child for the realities of racism, how to help them process when they are personally impacted by it.

Episode Notes

Are you a White parent raising a Black child? Wondering how to talk with them about the realities of race and what that means in the world? Dr. Nanika Coor talks with therapist Abby Hasberry to hear what White parents need to know about raising a Black child to have a healthy racial identity.

Find Abby Hasberry on the web:

Project Parenthood is hosted by Dr. Nanika Coor.

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Project Parenthood is a part of Quick and Dirty Tips.


Episode Transcription

Hey parents! You're listening to the Project Parenthood podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Nanika Coor, clinical psychologist and respectful parenting therapist. Each week, I’ll introduce you to the same respectful parenting practices that I use to help parents repair and deepen connections with their children. You’ll get tips for cultivating more parental self-compassion, more cooperation from your kids, and more joy, peace, and resilience in your relationship with them. 

In today’s episode, I’m talking with Abby Hasberry, a licensed marriage family therapist associate who’s both a transracial adoptee and a birth mother. You’re going to hear about how to prepare your Black child for the realities of racism, how to help them process when they are personally impacted by it. Stick around till the end to learn about the importance of acknowledging the losses that are baked into any adoption story. 

Abby Hasberry is a therapist, author, and educator, working with clients in Texas. Throughout her career she has used her education and experiences to help others develop themselves personally and professionally. She considers herself a lifetime learner who loves learning formally through research and training and informally from my interactions with people. She has lived and traveled all over the world, and loves to experience new places and cultures. In addition to being a wife and mom, she’s also a transracial adoptee and a birth mom, and has navigated the reunion journey for both identities.

Her primary therapy specialties are adoption with focus on transracial adoptees, birth mothers, adolescents and young adults, racial identity development and racial trauma, and relationships. She’s been trained in Brainspotting and narrative therapy and believes that the client is the expert in their own life. 

After years in education as a college professor, middle school teacher, and principal, her joy is working with adolescents and young adults, but she also enjoys couple’s work. Abby typically works with adolescents navigating anxiety and depression, young adults transitioning to careers and learning to “adult”, adoptees of all ages discovering their identities and processing trauma, birth moms processing post adoption, and couples seeking a more connected relationship. Her work is diversity focused, trauma-based, and internal family systems (IFS) informed.

Here’s my chat with Abby Hasberry: 

The following is a rough transcript of the conversation. Any quotes taken from this transcript should be confirmed in the audio.

Dr. Nanika Coor:

Hey, parents. I'm here now with Licensed Marriage/Family therapist, associate Abby Hasberry. Abby's a therapist, author, and educator working with clients in Texas, and she also happens to be a transracial adoptee and a birth mom who's navigated the reunion journey for both of these identities. Hey, Abby.

Abby Hasberry:

Hello. Thank you for having me.


I'm so glad to have you here at Project Parenthood to shed some light on the nuances of transracial adoption, particularly when the adoptive parents are white and the adoptee has biological roots in the African diaspora. So I wanted to sort of start with, just hearing a little bit more about the work that you do with adoptees and just a little bit about that.


So I originally came to career work as a principal and a teacher and all of the things in education, but at some point I started to kind of work through my professional identity and think about what it meant to be an adoptee in that space. And I found pretty quickly that adoptees and specifically transracial adoptees really needed someone to talk to, to work through identities and all of the things, abandonment, loss, all of the things that are just kind of not talked about. So in looking for therapists for people that I met, and even for myself,  I quickly realized that there were not many Black therapists who were, adoption informed, and even more specifically, that were either adoptees or birth parents. And so I decided to go back to school and become that. Recently here I've started working as a therapist and I work primarily with adoptees. I have a couple adoptive parents, but mostly with adoptees, working through all of the things that we need to to work through in life, but also all the things that are impacted specifically based on their adoption status.


You know, one of the things you just said, the things that we don't talk about, right? Like the loss and those things that we don't talk about. In my own practice, that's what comes up so much in my work with adoptees themselves, and also with the parents,  adoptive parents and, adoptees, just so much loss on both sides, right? And  then of course there's the birth family. Many of these parents just don't even know how to talk about it, even if they're aware of it. They’re like, “What do we do about this information? How do we bring this up? Do we even bring it up? Is it bad to bring it up?”

There's a lot of mixed emotions and mixed feelings. So, switching gears a little bit, how can white parents help Black children with their racial identity development when that's not their own experience? One of the things that really stood out in the conversation you and I had in preparation for this interview, you talked about how adoptees, transracial adoptees, particularly who have white parents, might have to deal with microaggressions and masking in their own homes. How can a child develop a healthy racial identity in those kinds of circumstances? What can a parent do in these situations? 


So I think that one of the things that parents absolutely have to do from the beginning is acknowledge that these things may happen and they may be perpetrators of these things against their kids not intentionally, but it's going to happen as part of the kind of indoctrination into our society. We have all been raised in American society where a lot of unpleasantness happens, and that's not a thing that anyone can dodge and avoid. It just is part of growing up in our society. And so accepting that you may at some point do something that is inappropriate or harmful to your child, and then moving forward from that is, is the first step. And even in parenting in general, whether it be just as a parent of your own biological same race kiddo, we do things that can be harmful to our kids.

And acknowledging that and  acknowledging that that may happen and that there is repair to make is really that first step just in parenting in general. I think that it makes it harder when it's racial and microaggressions and all of those things because these are things that we're taught to not talk about. We don't want to talk about these things, but,if you're going to adopt a child of a different race, it's something that you have to understand and, just agree to be upfront with and to name the thing in the room. Because just because you don't name it doesn't mean that it's not happening. Just because you don't bring it up to your kid, it doesn't mean they're not already thinking about it and processing it. And so naming it, being aware that it's going to be going to happen, accepting that there's just no perfect way to parent a child regardless of how that child enters your family, and being okay with the fact that you're going to have to make repairs.

I think that's one of the things that  I saw done really well with my own mother. Not necessarily her ability to accept her own mistakes, but her ability to prepare me for the world and to say, “These things are going to happen and you're going to see these things, and when they happen, I'm here to talk to you, to you about them”. And that's one thing, is providing a safe space where when your child encounters these things, these microaggressions, these covert and overt acts of racism, that they have a place to go. If you think of a black child in a black home who experiences something outside of the house, they have a safe place at home to go to say, “This thing happened.” And there are people in their home who have been like,  “Hh yeah,  I got that.

I've had that experience.”  When you're a transracial adoptee and you have this thing happen outside of your home and you come home, it's not necessarily a safe space because your parents haven't had that experience and can't necessarily relate to that thing that happens. So it's really important that you provide open conversation about things that are going to happen, accepting your child's reality and saying, “If this is how you perceived it happening, then I believe you.” And not trying to make them feel better and saying, “Oh, I'm sure they didn't mean that,” because if your child believes they meant it, then your child believes they meant it, and that's where you need to start. I think that that's super important too, that parents just accept your child's reality because it's a reality that you just aren't going to necessarily understand or relate to.


I think that's a really good point, that last point you made there about believing your child. I've worked with a host of transracial adoptee teens, who have gone through many kinds of microaggressive moments. And when you talk about a child coming home and saying, “This is an experience I had,” and getting the response, “ I don't believe you,”  or,  “Maybe you're misunderstanding.” I mean, the word I wanna put on that is gaslighting. Certainly, as you said before, I don't think that's necessarily a parent's intention. I think more of the intention is to relieve my child of this distress they are feeling. And if these words that I can say can do that, then I'm gonna do that. And sometimes those words that you hope are doing that thing are actually doing something more harmful.


Yeah. And, what you're teaching your child to do is to not listen to that feeling inside of them that something is wrong. And so when they go out and there's a microaggression, whether it's something as simple that happens all the time where someone is touching their hair or making comment about their hair, and it doesn't feel right in their stomach, like it doesn't feel right that this person is putting their hands on me and petting me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable, and they come home and say that, and you say, “Oh, I'm sure they didn't mean it, they just appreciated your hair.” What you're teaching them to do is to not listen to that feeling in their gut and to not listen to their own, you know, survival instincts, in situations like that. And that's not at all the intent of the parent, but it's what is learned by the kiddo when you do that.


Absolutely. Absolutely. And can you talk a little bit about masking too? When we talk about masking, I know that you and I know what we're talking about, but just for the audience, can you talk a little bit more about what that might be like for a transracial adoptee?


Yeah. So if you think about it in a professional identity of a Black person who goes to work and has a specific identity that they put on when they're at work, and it's where they're speaking proper English, and proper is in quote fingers for that, standard English, and they are wearing their hair in certain ways and maybe just speaking in manners that are more appropriate to the job environment that they are in, but not what they're accustomed to in their own community. And this can be any person of color, people from other countries as well. Any culture that's outside of standard white American culture. That kind of is that masking. But when you think of a transracial adoptee, they are doing that often in their own home as well. So it's not just going out into another space and putting on this identity to be speaking in standard English, in a white kind of societal expectation.

It's doing that in the place where you're supposed to feel the most safe and the most comfortable, in your own home. So that is problematic in many ways because it makes a child feel like there isn't a space where they can be 100% themselves and be comfortable and be authentic, because they are learning about their own race and their own culture from television, from their friends, from other racial mirrors who they may be living with. And then to have to take that off at home is problematic and exhausting.

One of the things that I'm seeing more and more with my adult adoptee clients, is, a kind of pushback or putting up boundaries from their white adoptive parents because of that weathering where they just now need to have this boundary and not have to be someone other than their authentic self that they've now learned what their identity is and decided that this is who they are. And they don't feel like they can be that way a hundred percent around their adoptive family. 


Right. Just in a self-preservation way, just in a way to try to preserve some authenticity and also just your emotional wellbeing. So how can white parents help their Black child prepare, like, as you said, as your mother did, prepare for the racism and microaggressions and bias and just white supremacy in the world that they're going to encounter outside of home?


Yeah. So calling a spade a spade, when you see it and you talk about it. Don't act like you didn't see it. One of the stories that I often tell my clients and people is that when I was in middle school, I was invited to a country club by a white friend to go swim. And the night before we were going, my mom got a phone call from her mom. When she got off the phone, she said, “This is what happened. You're not allowed to go swimming at the country club because the country club does not allow African Americans in the club.” And she said to me that as long as the parents still believed it was okay to be members of this club, I was not allowed to go to that house again and play, but that my friend was allowed to come to our house any time because, it wasn't something that she did as a child, but it's a choice that her parents made.

And as long as they were continuing to be okay with that choice, she didn't feel comfortable that that house was safe for me. And I think I was probably 11 or 12 years old. So having a conversation where I understood what was happening, I also felt supported by my mom, and I also was able to kind of put the blame where the blame was. It wasn't my friend's fault, it wasn't anyone's fault other than the country club. And then my friend's parents were making a choice to be okay with that, and that choice wasn't okay with our family. That's what I mean by kind of calling a spade a spade. My mom could have easily said, “Oh, you know, if this is canceled, I'm sorry. They're not going,” she could have made up a story, she could have done anything. But by being truthful and honest with me, she gave me a perspective as a 10 year old to understand that good people make bad decisions, one. That the world isn't always going to be kind and nice to me. That was kind of two, but that also I had a choice to still be loving and kind to people regardless of what was happening around me.


Mm-hmm. .  What really stands out from that story that you're telling is also how your mother made this choice to say like, “These aren't humans that I want in my child's life. These people aren't safe for her. If they're gonna cosign that kind of ideology, they're not safe for her. And I'm gonna tell my daughter why I think that they are not safe for her,” because there are a lot of times that we as parents make those kinds of safety decisions for our kids, but don't actually have a conversation with them about why we made it. And so I think it's really important that your mom was open with you about her decision to prioritize your safety. And I also think it is wildly compassionate of her to not  have their daughter, their child, pay for the bad decisions of their parents, the unfortunate decisions. 


Yeah. And what a great lesson for me because it also told me now as an adult that I can make the choice to say that this space isn't comfortable for me. And  I don't wanna be in it, and it has nothing to do with other people in that space, but it's just my choice to say, “Yeah, I'm not comfortable with this and I'm not gonna be in this space and it's okay.”


Mm-hmm. . And that your safety matters. Your mom also taught you in that moment that your safety, your emotional safety, is an important thing and it is of value, and I am going to protect it. And you have the right to protect it too. As we're sort of talking about white parents understanding the impact that the world can have on their Black child, can you help other white parents understand, that what we're talking about, that weathering that happens for all Black people really, but for a transracial adoptee who, as you mentioned before, may not have inside of their home, other Black people to see or understand their experience, and the hypervigilance, and having to assimilate and all of those things, how does that affect development as a child is growing up?


Yeah. So, it's a lot. It is a lot. And, and you mentioned hyper vigilance and that's exactly kind of what it is. You're always on a swivel. You don't know where you fit because you don't fit in 100% in white society cuz you're not white, but you also have learned that you don't fit in whatever your culture of origin is because you don't have that cultural background. You don't have the same language, you don't have that shared experience. And so it leads to a place where you're always questioning, “Do I belong in this space? And if I belong in this space, how do I show up in this space?” So there's a lot of learning to kind of change who you are to fit in this space until you're able to feel really secure in your identity,and who as a child or, and especially as a teenager feels secure in their identity?

It's just not a thing that happens. And so on top of having the normal kind of 13, 14, 15 year old things where you just kind of don't feel comfortable and don't know who you are, you really don't feel comfortable and know who you are or where you fit in or where you're safe. And then dealing with friends in that environment as well is hard because they don't know where you fit in and, and where who you are. There's a lot of just trying to figure out who you are in spaces where you're not necessarily feeling welcome, and where there isn't space for you, there is an identity for you. Parents can really help by making sure that kids have racial mirrors from the beginning so that you do have that shared culture. If my parents had had some racial mirrors for me when I was an infant on through, if they had had Black friends who they were really friends with who were part of my life, then I would have some of that shared culture and that shared experience Just from being with them in that environment.

In addition, if I had known any other adoptees in my life, then I would have a space and an identity as an adoptee, which is something that I didn't really have until I was an adult, even understanding the adoptee experience. So making sure that that is also part of that experience, whether they are same race adoptees, different race, whatever, it doesn't matter that adoptee experience and identity is one that adoptees should explore and be exposed to as well. 


One of the things that came to my mind as you were speaking, was that sort of umbrella of whiteness, right? That goes with you when you are with your family, when you are a different race than your white family. When you're with them, that sort of covers you as well, but then when you're not standing with them, the rest of the world is just seeing you as a Black person and, maybe , your own internal self. You're not, as you just described, as aligned with that as you will go on to be later in your life.  It can feel very confusing like, who am I at this moment? These people are seeing me this way, I might be feeling a different way. How did you manage that dichotomy when you were younger? Like if there's a teenager listening right now What could be some words of wisdom for them?


I think that words of wisdom for me is there's no one way of being anything. Just showing up in the space as you are is enough. And I know that as a teenager it often does not feel like it's enough,and you just have to continue to tell yourself that I am enough the way that I am.That is actually a lesson that I learned earlier than most teenagers did. And I'm not sure why or how I haven't kind of unpacked where that came from,but I was okay with the fact that there was a different way of being Black when I was 15 years old. 

I was aware that I had privileges that my Black friends in my community did not have. And with that awareness, somehow I developed a belief of understanding that I did have some responsibility. And I think that I found that mostly in school. So from going from eighth to ninth grade, I went from private school to public school. And in doing so, my mom went in and advocated and said I needed to be in all of the highest classes because I had had this  really rigorous education and really did need to be in those classes. And I was excited about going to school where there were a lot more kids who looked like me, cuz there were none at my private school.

But what I found was that in those classes, I was still the only one. And something in me understood that there was something that wasn't okay in all of that. And I felt a responsibility later on to go back and fix that, which is why I ended up going into education. But I understood that my friends were just as smart as I was, if not more intelligent than I was, many of them,but they weren't afforded the opportunity to be in the classes that I was in. And it was because of my adoption status and that umbrella of whiteness that you talked about. And that was hard. It was really hard to live with, to navigate, to understand, to process.

It was hard  to navigate my own identity to say like, “There's more than one way of being Black, however, my way of becoming Black included an umbrella of whiteness that other people don't have.” It  included a privilege that a lot of my friends didn't have. And that was difficult to navigate and to understand and to be okay with.


I'm thinking about that, from all the clients I've worked with who are adults, who are teenagers who may not be adoptees, but may be Black people who were raised in predominantly white spaces who have a similar feeling. But I think that’s amazing that you were able to, from a young age, put all of those pieces together. 

So moving again, back to parenting, how can white parents validate their child's lived experience? So when your child does come home and say, “I had this upsetting experience,” and if you are a parent, something like this has never happened to me. I've never had to deal with anything like that, but I wanna be helpful in my child's direction. What is something that a white parent can do to be helpful in those situations?


Yeah. So, I would say not just white parents, but parents in general. There's, a three-pronged question that I like teaching parents to ask their kids. When your kiddo comes home with an experience and says, “This thing happened to me”, you ask, “Do you want advice? Do you want me to just listen? Or do you want me to solve your problem?” Those three things. Which one of those three things am I going into this with my listening ears on? I think that starting with that is super helpful. So your kiddo comes home and has had this experience that they know you can't relate to, and maybe they just want you to listen.

Usually they'll just want you to listen, especially if a kid knows that you can't relate to it, they just want you to listen. And so you go in and you just listen. You just say, “I understand.” You may ask questions for clarification, ask, “How did that make you feel? What do you wanna do next?” Those are the things that you ask when you're just listening. When you're giving your advice, you say, “How do you want me to help you through this? What questions do you need to ask me? What is my role in giving you advice in this? What do you need from me?” And if you're there to offer solutions, you say, “Okay, how can I help you?”

Those are the three ways to navigate that space of circumstances and situations that you may not understand and still show up for your kid in the best way that you can. The other thing is to also see is there someone else that you would want to talk to about this? Is there someone that I can put you in touch with, someone in your village who might be the next person that you share this with? Or I say, “I don't relate to this, but know who would, auntie so-and-so.” This person that you already have in their village who they already know, who has shared experiences. Then you say, “I think you should talk to her or hear him or her about this. Those would be my kind of words of wisdom for parents. But in order to do that, you have to have the village solid from day one.


One of the things I think is great about asking those three questions is because a lot of people that I get in my practice are not the non-validating type. They're more the I gotta fix every single problem. Like immediately. Like as soon as I hear of something, I gotta start fixing everything. And that in and of itself can sometimes be invalidating to a person. When they're coming to you, because they're trying to maybe get comfort or just have someone listen to them. So it's really just so lovely to give someone a menu like that of like, here are your choices. Maybe your child doesn't realize those choices, are there A, and then B, it's giving them a way of getting their need met in that moment.

Like, okay, what do I actually need right now? I can choose from one of those three things, four things when you also offer an outside voice, maybe there's someone else you'd like to speak to about this. I really like asking that question just in a general way. Asking the child, “How would you like me to help? What would you like me to do?” You'd be surprised about how many biological families that I deal with where the child is like, “This thing happened, and then before I could even get the words out of my mouth, my mom had marched to school to talk to any human being possible . You know what I mean? And I'm mortified, right?” So yeah. It's like, does your child want you to talk to the teacher?

Do they want you to intervene on their behalf, or is that about you and your own anxiety? Is that really what your child needs from you? it's a really good plan to ask, “How can I help you? What help do you need?”  As we're getting closer to the end of our time together,through all the things that we've discussed, one of the things that also came up for me in the chat we had before, was about centering adoptees. You used that term, that idea of really centering their experience. And I was wondering if you could tell me about some ways that, unintentionally, parents fail to do that?


Yeah, absolutely. So centering the adoptee and the adoption narrative means putting their story, their perspective as the center. And so even when you're thinking about the adoption narrative of how a child came to the family, it starts with the parents coming in, making a decision to have a kiddo, and centering the adoptee means that you're talking about the loss that happened to the child before they even got to your family. So when you think about starting a story with loss,  I'll just start with my own story. My parents told me a story about how they decided to adopt because they weren't able to have a fourth child and really wanted to have one. And so my adoption story started with them and their decision and their need. And it didn't start with the facts that I was relinquished by my mom, and that there was a loss.

And that there were three months of my life when I was in foster care that I have no idea who had me or where I was. Centering my adoption story around that would've been a completely different way for me to understand some of the things that I felt. So when I felt like I was unable to connect, when I felt like I was sad at times, centering that part of it really changes it. And if you think about the things you see in social media about  gotcha days and parents celebrating and putting all over the media this day that they sign and have their kid, if you're centering the adoptee, you're starting with that loss. And so that day when you sign and you are now really severing that relationship and, and severing that tie to the biological family, it no longer becomes a huge  celebration.

It's more of a somber moment where we are so happy to have you, but we are acknowledging that there's some sort of loss. Just even thinking from that first point and centering adoptees in their story and deciding, do we wanna celebrate that gotcha day? Do you even wanna celebrate your birthday? A lot of adoptees don't feel comfortable celebrating their birthday because it's not necessarily a day that's full of joy or happiness for them. And so understanding and giving them choices as they're getting older and identifying as an adoptee is really centering them in adoption. It also means that adoptive parents don't share the adoptee’s story  on social media with their friends. The things that happened before you got your child are not yours to share. That's their story. That's also a huge part of it, is honoring that story and what is theirs and, and not sharing and oversharing those things as well.


You talked about the trauma piece, the loss.  And I just wanted you to sort of talk a little bit more about the trauma piece. The things that don't get talked about, as you said. What are some of those things that all parents, all adoptive parents of all, all the stripes, right? How could they be talking to or making room for that loss piece, that trauma piece?


So I think that one of the things that parents do is they often say things like, “You know, your mother loves you so much that she made this choice for you.” And I honestly think that that's not the right thing to say. That's centering it around the birth mother's experience and not centering it around the adoptee's experience. Centering it around the adoptee's experience would mean saying, “I know that you must miss her even if you don't remember her, there's parts of you that miss her. It's okay to think about her. It's okay to wonder if she's thinking about you on your birthday, and I hope that she is.” Those kinds of things, really, the things that kids are thinking already but parents don't feel comfortable saying is again, calling it what it is and, and acknowledging those things is really really important. Just acknowledging that there is this loss, acknowledging that you're missing possibly language, culture, foods, all of those things and saying, “How does that feel? How can I help you to try to incorporate that in your life? Is that something you're missing? Have you thought about it?” Just asking questions and then acknowledging that it may be an experience that they are having is really important for parents to do.


And you know, as you're speaking, I'm realizing for so many of the adoptive families that I've worked with, like fully half of them have had  the biological parent, the mother,there's been some trauma in like maybe even becoming pregnant or,  there was potentially the, the mother had like very serious mental illness or very serious drug use or some kind of very serious trauma that she was dealing with at the time of the birth. A lot of the adoptive parents are then very anxious. Like, “When do I tell them? Do I tell them? Do they need to know? How do I tell them? Is it more traumatic for them to know?” What's a good way for parents to manage that kind of situation?


So that's the kid's story and it's their information. And so they deserve to know the story in age appropriate bits. You tell them from the beginning, the story isn't, she loved you so much, the story is, your birth mother was going through trauma and wasn't able to keep you in this moment. And then when they're older, you tell 'em a little bit more about the trauma. But it is their story. And it's that when you think about biological kids,they are afforded the opportunity to any information that they can, they know their parents, they have their birth certificates, they know the situation, they have pictures of their parents being pregnant .And so adoptees don't get that privilege. And so the more of that privilege that adoptive parents can get, the better, that they can give to their child.

The other thing though, that adoptive parents really should do is also understand that there is some coercion often in the adoption industry for birth parents. And so acknowledging that too, and the part that they play, just like me acknowledging that, part of my identity gave me some privilege that other people who look like me might not have. I think that adoptive parents need to kind of acknowledge that their privilege and their identity has played a part in even receiving the child that they have, and that there's a possibility that that's part of their child's story too. And so painting a story that is full of brightness and love and choices is not necessarily fair because it's often not true.


And you know, what you're saying right now about the privilege of even just knowing anything about the first days of your life, right? And so not knowing who your parent is when your parents know who that person is, right?  They have this information and they're sort of gate keeping this information, right? Like imagining that, you can't really handle it, you're not gonna be able to deal with it. And then I wonder for those children who maybe find out when they're, I don't know, 18, all of this information about themselves, I can only imagine how confusing and potentially feeling betrayed like, this is information you've been withholding that could have been really important for me to know.


Yeah, absolutely. It's almost a violation of trust.

My mother talks about how the agency  was willing to give her more information, but she was so excited to get me that she just didn't. And so like that to me is frustrating. So even thinking like, centering the adoptee in the story, in the process, she didn't think about what I would need or what I might wanna know or the fact that I should have some sort of access to this information. She was getting the child, she wanted to go home, she wanted to start taking care of me, and so she did not collect the information that she could have done.


So as we're coming to the end, I'm wondering if there are any things that you  feel that are sort of ideas being held  in larger society that are myths that could be sort of debunked about transracial adoption?


Hmm. I think that the biggest myth is that Black families don't adopt, and that's why we need transracial adoption. So I want to debunk that. Yeah. They do, it's a thing , there are definitely same race adoptions with adoptees who are adopted by Black families. And so that's, I think the number one myth is that Black people don't adopt, and that's why this happens. But it's not true. It's just that white babies are more desired. And adoption coercion happens with women who are more in crisis.

So women who are in poverty and in our society that is usually women of color. And I guess I want to challenge parents out there to say  like, “What can I do differently in order to not make this a thing?” And even in my own experience, and I guess I'll leave with that, I am a birth mother, which you said in the beginning, and as I look back on my story as a birth mother, had anyone offered me any option at 17 years old to keep my child, I would've done it, but that wasn't a thing because babies are wanted. And so that's part of that adoption, coercion is that people did not say, “This is the path that you can take and do it.” And so I will challenge people to say like, “How can I support women who are considering giving up a kid, but specifically women of color and women who are in situations where they just need a little support.”


You made a comment during our chat earlier, you were talking about the money that's involved in private adoptions and that same amount of money that someone is paying to acquire a child. I mean, what if that 17 year old could have that same money you're paying, maybe they could keep their child, right? And a whole thing opened up in my mind, right? Like, it was just like mind blown. It's so simple, but so something that nobody's talking about or thinking about, to divert those funds in a different way could have a completely different outcome. And I also wanted to sort of think about for families who might be listening who are in an infertility situation or who have been considering adoption who haven't done it yet, they're just in the reflective stage. But what would you say to someone who is in that reflective stage and thinking about adoption?


I would say do your work,go to therapy. Just kind of figure through all the options. Do your own healing first.  Often, if you're in a situation where you're considering adoption, it's because there's some sort of loss of an ideal of a child that you biologically were going to have. And so instead of rushing to adoption, do that work first in that healing, so that you can show up  in the life of a child. I would also say consider adopting kids that aren't infant adoptees as well. So kiddos who definitely do not have support, family structures, all of those things who really need you as well.


Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for that. That's such an important point. There's so many children who are older than infancy who need so much love and so much support.  Thank you so much Abby for being here and sharing this information. As I told you before we started recording, I've been wanting so much to have this conversation for so long.I've worked with so many transracially adoptive families and kids, and I've always wanted to be able to speak to someone about this who has a therapy background. And not solely just personal experience, but also some mental health experience as well, so thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. 

I hope that’s helpful! 

You can learn more about Abby Hasberry’s work at and follow her on Instagram @d.e.a.r._abby

You can learn more about my work with parents at and follow me on Instagram at BKPARENTS.

If you have more questions about transracial adoption, or any other parenting questions or stories, leave me a message at (646) 926-3243 and be sure to let me know if it's okay to use your voice on the show. Or, send an email to And don’t forget to subscribe to Project Parenthood on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Catch you next week!