For gay men looking to build their family through adoption, adopting a children of a different race can add a layer in parenting. We brought on adoption expert Jennifer Bliss alongside Lane Mashal, a gay dad who adopted transracially and a former adoption social worker who lead transracial adoption workshops, to help us go in depth into the meaning of adopting a child of a different race.

“For people looking to explain their family through adoption, there are three ways to do that,” Jennifer Bliss, LCSW, PsyD, Director of Adoptions & Foster Care, Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services, explained on Daddy Squared podcast, “one would be through international adoption, one is through foster care- adoption which is usually referred to foster-adopt, and then the third is through private adoption which is when people go through an agency or an attorney to adopt domestic, private adoptions.”

“Adopting in itself adds an extra layer in parenting,” Jennifer said, “because you’re raising an adoptee. That comes with its on challenges and psycho-education and toolkit that the parents sould have to help navigate different encases over the years with their child. Choosing to adopt transracially adds another layer to that parenting experience because while it’s tempted to say ‘I will love you no matter what color your skin is, it’s beautiful,’ we have to be careful that we don’t minimize the difference or act like it doesn’t matter because it will matter to your child. And minimizing that basically will invalidate their experience.”

Lane said, from his years of experience working with parents who adopted transracially, the biggest misconception of parents is that if they will be “color blind” and “show they love their kid no matter what,” maybe not even talk about the race difference between them and their kids, the kids will be fine.

“It doesn’t matter if you say you’re color blind or not,” Lane told us, “because the world does not see your child in a colorblind way. And the child has to grow up knowing that the world doesn’t see them the way you are seeing them. My children throughout their childhood were always seen differently, judged differently, people talked to me about their racist thoughts upfront, because I was white, even though my children were not.”

Our Guests: Dr. Jennifer Bliss and Lane Mashal

For over 20 years, Dr, Jennifer Bliss has dedicated her career to the field of child welfare and adoption. After completing her MSW at UCLA, she became a family reunification social worker with Los Angeles County while earning her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. A few years later she transitioned into the non-profit sector as an Adoptions Counselor. In this role, she counseled expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents through the match and placement process.  She has been quoted in American Baby Magazine, Psychology Today, and has spoken on the importance of best practices in adoption at statewide conferences. She has also appeared as the adoption expert on Huffington Post Live and the Hallmark Channel. Additionally, Dr. Bliss was the primary adoption consultant on WEtv’s 4-part documentary series, “Adoption Diaries” and co-authored the book Another ​Choice: A Compassionate Guide to Placing a Child for Adoption. In 2018, she joined Vista Del Mar as the Director of Adoptions and Foster Care.

Guest Host: Daniel Vandenbark

Daniel is a single dad, co-parenting with his former partner to raise their son, Torbett, who came to them through open-adoption. Daniel founded his design firm over twenty years ago, designing custom interiors and waterwise landscapes for clients in SoCal and through the US. Daniel is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys sharing time backpacking, snowboarding and dadventuring with Torbett.

Men Having Babies

Men Having Babies is a community, nonprofit organization that helps gay men become fathers via surrogacy with education and financial assistance. In each episode this season, the team of Men Having Babies (MHB) will educate us on aspects of having kids through ethical surrogacy. In this episode, Lisa Schuster of the MHB staff talks about the effect of COVID-19 on surrogacy.

Episode Credits

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest Host: Daniel Vandenbark
Guests: Jennifer Bliss, LCSW, PsyD, Lane Mashal
Opening Theme: Hercules & Love Affair, “Leonora” buy here
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