Transracial adoption – adoption of a child by parents of a different race – surfaced this week in two fascinating interviews surrounding Rachel Dolezal, a White woman trying to pass as Black, who was forced to resign as head of the Spokane NAACP.

In an interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, Dolezal said she began identifying as Black when she received custody of one of her brothers, Izaiah, who she now considers her son:

“He said, ‘You’re my real mom.’ And he’s in high school, and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.”

Dolezal’s comment sparked an indignant reaction from transracial adoptees adopted by parents of a different race. Confronting Dolezal’s assertion that she had to be Black to be seen as the mother of a Black child, Anderson Cooper interviewed Angela Tucker (, a transracial adoptee, writer, and open adoption advocate.

Tucker called Dolezal’s comment “hurtful” to adoptees like her whose parents were White, yet “raised me well” as an African American woman who knows “who I am.” She applauded “transracial adoptive parents who’ve done the same thing where they have brought the culture of their child into their home in many ways and have diversified their friends so that the child sees mirrors of their identity in other people, while not choosing to become that race.”

Transracial adoption works, not by adoptive parents’ trying to pass as a different race, but by their educating themselves and their families about their child’s culture and exposing their child to role models and friends reflecting the child’s background.