Our Successful Transracial Adoption Story: Jaclyn & Michael Miller
Jaclyn and Michael Miller are two adoptive parents who had a successful transracial adoption. This week, we had the great honor of speaking to them and hearing their adoption story.
Jaclyn Miller is the founder and CEO of MARKED, a non profit organization that works to empower, educate and strengthen communities in Latin America. Her goal is to see their orphanages emptied as the children find loving homes. Both the Millers have worked both domestically and internationally with adoption agencies and nonprofit organizations.
AP: How did you get started in the adoption business?
JM: Adoption has been my life for about 20 years. I have been volunteering with orphanages in Latin America since I was a teenager. That’s how I met my now husband, Michael, eight years ago. We founded MARKED together. Adoption has always been my heart. For us, it was always plan A.
AP: How did your adoption story begin?
JM: For many years, we traveled back and forth between the United States and Mexico as part of our nonprofit work. We partnered with an adoption organization and adoption consultant to adopt. We had a failed adoption back in October when the birth mother chose to parent.
However, I really want birth parents to know that we celebrate them whatever their choice is. If they ultimately decide to parent, we celebrate and honor that choice.
Then, four months ago, we received the call that a child was waiting for us in Texas. We had to be there in 72 hours.
AP: Did you know anything about your child beforehand?
JM: We knew our daughter’s birth mother’s story before we went in. She already had 2 children that were in the system due to past circumstances. But, this time around, she had educated herself about her options and she felt empowered to actively make the choice to place her daughter with an agency instead of having the decision made for her.
AP: What was it like adopting transracially?
JM: Race is a primary concern for birth parents. When birth parents work with an agency, they get to build their profile and narrow down prospective families based on how they want their child to be raised. Most birth parents look for adoptive parents who share similar hobbies, lifestyles, values, etc.
I’ve spoken with many adoptees over the years, who are now grown, and I think that the biggest way the adoption process has let down adoptees is not paying enough attention to race and culture. For lack of a better word, adoptees have felt ‘white-washed’ because they were adopted into families and communities that were uneducated or unexposed to his or her heritage.
Of course, we were ready to love any child that came into our lives, but we really took a critical look at our community and the people we were close to. We tried to think of what would be best for a child. We narrowed down our profile to children that could still grow up around their own culture based on our family and friend circles.
We’re white and our daughter is Hispanic. We have people in our lives who will love her and be able to answer questions about her heritage that we may not be able to.
AP: What is your secret to a successful transracial adoption?
JM: It’s hard to really be honest about your family and community. Sometimes you have to accept uncomfortable realities; but, ultimately, it’s what’s best for a child in the long run. Children are growing up curious about their birth parents and their heritage. Having that village of people around to help you and to love your child is going to really go a long way to having a successful adoption. It’s truly helped us.
AP: What advice do you have for other birth parents considering transracial adoption?
JM: The best advice I can give birth parents as they complete their portfolio is to think down the road. Try and imagine what you hope your child’s life will be like. You have a voice in the adoption process. Make sure that you research and educate yourselves as much as possible. This will help you immensely with your options.
AP: What advice do you have for adoptive parents seeking transracial adoption?
JM: Adoptive parents should educate themselves and their families on how to best support them. Be willing to give your support system the tools you need them to have. Ask them if it’s going to be difficult having a child of another race in their family. Bring them along with you in the process, because it really does take a village.
Also -- get counseling before, during and after the adoption. The process uncovers things in your heart that you might not even be aware of. It’s a great opportunity to make your heart whole.
Adoption Choices of Nevada has been providing adoption and surrogacy services across Nevada since 2012. For information specific to Las Vegas, please visit our sister site Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Las Vegas. For information specific to Reno, please visit our sister site Adoption and Surrogacy Choices of Reno. You can also call us to speak to someone now.