Transracial Journeys Blog

Black Excellence: Daryl “DMC” McDaniels

contributed by Jennie Rosenstiel Hip Hop turns 50 this year and when it comes to hip-hop’s influence on American music and culture, there are few names as celebrated as Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. Frontman to pioneering new-school hip-hop trio Run-DMC from 1983 until 2002, DMC is beloved to music fans worldwide. But when it comes to DMC, being a musical icon is only part of the story. He’s also a writer, activist, and advocate for adoptees and foster (and former foster) read more

March: Changing the Script on Adoption, Luck and Microaggressions

by Avril McInally By now, many of you have probably experienced the “Lucky to be adopted” commentaries that society heaps upon adoptees and families formed or extended by adoption. It’s March, I’m thinking about St. Patrick’s Day with its accompanying themes of rainbows, pots of gold and luck. When I think about luck and I look back on my life, I’m struck by the intrusiveness of luck conversations which began occurring after I adopted my daughter. So many strangers have read more

Preparation: Transracial Adoption: Be Ready!

Have you had strangers ask inappropriate questions of you and your family? “Is she/he/them yours?” - “Where are they from?” - “Your child is SO lucky”. These invasive questions are part of being a family that does not match and where differences of race are obvious to the world around you. It is important to be prepared for these intrusions. March Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send our families conversation cues each month, from read more

Book Corner – March 2023

Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family By Erika Hayasaki   Vietnamese twins Loan and Ha were separated when they were babies. Ha was raised by her aunt in a loving home in rural Vietnam. Loan was adopted, renamed Isabella, and grew up in a loving home in a Chicago suburb. Isabella’s American family weren’t told their daughter was a twin, and when they found out, Isabella’s mom started to search for Ha. After many read more

February Intersections: Love and Black History Month

With St. Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, this short month brings so many foundational elements of transracial adoption to explore. February Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send our families conversation cues each month, from our Transracial Journeys card deck, given to all our families that attend Family Camp. The card deck contains three converstion cards for each month, designed for the children to ask their parents. Below are the questions for February. Before read more

Book Corner – February 2023

And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems By Erica Martin Grades 7 and Up After having read about Claudette Colvin’s refusal to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, author Erica Martin was intrigued. Who was Claudette Colvin and why don’t we know about her? After all, she had done the same thing Rosa Parks did and before Rosa Parks did it too! Wondering what else she didn’t know about the history of Black read more

February Featured Article

author: Avril McInally It’s February. Our chronologies and calendars feature both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day (read this month's parent conversation theme, February Intersections: Love and Black History Month). Fresh on our minds, is the recent murder of Tyre Nichols. As we attempt to process the pain and the confusion, we are reminded of how vital it is to the intricacies of the Black experience and celebrate Black excellence every single day of the year. As the world and our media read more

Black Excellence: Spotlight on

This month, we shine our spotlight on, a website created with contributions from: The Library of Congress The National Archives and Records Administration The National Endowment for the Humanities The National Gallery of Art The National Park Service The Smithsonian Institution The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum On this website, you’ll find curated compilations of the contributions and lived experiences, both historic and contemporary, of Black people in the United States. Collections of images, audio and video along with read more

Create Gates and Doors for Your Family with the Calendar

Happy New Year and happy January! With the dawning of each new year, many of us make pacts or contracts with ourselves to either do or not do something, so we make New Year’s resolutions. The Roman god Janus, for whom the month of January is named, comes to mind. He is depicted as a man with two faces, one face looks forward and the other looks back. This two-headed depiction of an old, Roman god may resonate with those read more

Book Corner – January 2023

Token Black Girl: A Memoir By Danielle Prescod Danielle’s Black parents raised her to be “colorblind.” They rarely talked about race, and Danielle sensed it was not a comfortable topic. Attending predominantly white schools, and avidly consuming the same whitewashed movies, magazines, TV shows, and books as her friends, Danielle was confused and conflicted about her identity. She convinced her mother to take her for chemical hair treatments starting in elementary school, and later developed disordered eating in an effort read more

Black Excellence – Kiese Laymon

Considered to have written one of the best 50 memoirs of the past 50 years by the New York Times, Kiese Laymon is an American author who is currently on the faculty at Rice University His memoir, “Heavy”, has received multiple accolades and awards including the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Award for Excellence. The autobiography is about growing up Black, bookish and overweight in an abusive home in Jackson, Mississippi. Why write about Laymon for January’s Black Excellence? Well, last year, read more

January Relationships: Honoring the Whole Family

January is a time when folks traditionally take stock of where they are and may even make some resolutions for a new diet, more time exercising, or commitments to spending quality time with family. For families experiencing transracial adoption, January can offer a time to think about the year ahead and together as a family, continue the expansive journey of purposefully navigating family and differences together. January Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send our read more

Black Excellence – Chris Kennedy, the Black Santa

Two years ago, Chris Kennedy put up an inflatable, seven foot tall, Black Santa in his front yard. An angry community member responded with a racist note stating: “Please remove your negro Santa Claus yard decoration,” the letter, signed by an anonymous “Santa Claus,” read. “You should try not to deceive children into believing that I am negro. I am a caucasian (white man, to you) and have been for the past 600 years.” In response to the note, Mr. read more

Creating New Traditions to Reflect Our Families and Celebrate Their Identities

author: Avril McInally For many of us, holidays can be a combination of many emotions and elements. Do we have all the candles we need for our Menorah or for our Kinara? Have we gotten our holiday lights and decorations up? How are we managing our budgets? Is the house tidy and clean enough for our house guests? Do we have enough food? Speaking of food, what about those special recipes we need to prepare? Do we have all of read more

Book Corner – December 2022

Happy All-Idays: By Cindy Jin, illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. “We all celebrate the season in our own special way. Let’s look at how families prepare for each holiday.” With a double-page spread for each holiday, this inclusive book shows families enjoying Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Chrismukkah.  Ending with Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year, Happy All-Idays is a celebration for everyone. Merrytale: A Christmas Adventure By Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Allison Black On Christmas Eve two brown children are read more

December – Reflections: Making and Breaking Traditions 

The December holidays give us an opportunity to think about traditions tied to different cultures and religions. Regardless of what you and your family honor and celebrate, we can be inspired to take a closer look at what traditions mean to us and how we can expand our thinking and actions. December Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send out cues for conversations each month. Our Transracial Journeys card deck contains 3 cards for each read more

Book Corner: Holiday Guide 2022

The Book Corner is a consistent favorite in our Transracial Journeys monthly newsletters and our parents are always looking for age-appropriate books with themes of diversity, inclusion and adoption.  The Book Corner's creators, Avril McInally, MLS and Victoria Richards, MLS, bring us this Holiday Guide for 2022 - a great roadmap for picking books as holiday gifts for our families and friends. Click on the image or the link below to download a 9-page annotated bibliography for families formed by read more

Nourishment: Reflecting on Thanksgiving, Adoption and the Family Table

author: Avril McInally Our November theme is all about family and nourishment but not simply about food and what we eat, but how we nourish our understanding of the uniqueness of our families and in service of the children we are entrusted to care for and love. This month we center on both Thanksgiving and National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM)! This year NAAM’s theme is “Small Steps Open Doors”. One step we can take as adoptive parents is to participate read more

November: Nourishment and the Family

The following post is from our November, 2022, newsletter. If you would like to get our newsletter in your inbox each month, please subscribe. Thanksgiving can be one of the more complicated historical holidays, and for many in the United States, one of the more family and food-centric holidays. Whether you are a family that chooses not to mark Thanksgiving in a traditional way, or your family goes all out with a big Thanksgiving celebration, this month we are thinking read more

Book Corner – November 2022

I Am Thankful: A Thanksgiving Book for Kids By Sheri Wall, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown This sweet rhyming story follows three families as they prepare for Thanksgiving. Everyone is cooking and baking. One family visits a pumpkin patch, another donates to the food bank. Some travel on a plane to be together, and a child talks to a far-away father on the phone. Readers will see different ways to get ready and celebrate, including looking at old photos together, doing read more

Black Excellence: Daniel Smith 3/11/1932-10/2022

This month, we mourn the passing of Daniel Smith who died at the age of 90. His life of activism and his pursuit of civil rights very probably stemmed from being the child of Abram Smith, who himself was born into slavery in the 1860’s. In multiple interviews, Daniel has recalled stories of his father’s experiences under slavery and the ensuing era of Reconstruction. “At night, Smith would sneak out of bed to hear the stories only his older siblings read more

The Persuaders and Transracial Journeys

Our Transracial Journeys organization is included in a book by a best-selling author to be released in October.  This post is to provide our families some background and context and was written as a collaboration by Avril McInally and April Dinwoodie.  In 2018 we were approached by best-selling author of Winners Take All and award-winning former New York Times columnist, Anand Giridharadas. He was writing his next book that centered on an insider account of activists, politicians, educators, and everyday read more

Black Excellence: Serena Williams

Uppermost in the news today regarding tennis star, Serena Williams, is her very recent retirement from the sport. Over the course of her career, she has won 21 Grand Slams but now, she’s leaving her tennis career with plans to grow her family. “If I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”   In a recent interview with Selena Gomes on her new website for mental health awareness, acceptance and support, read more

Mental Illness Awareness Week and Masks of Perfection

author: Avril McInally This year, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) runs from October 2 to October 8. In April’s deck of cards for October, she asks, “Do you think people wear masks that we can’t see?” This question resounded and rested heavily on those of us attending a recent Transracial Journeys’ Board Meeting. You could have heard a pin drop after one of our board members solemnly spoke of an associate’s child who had just committed suicide. To bring this read more

Book Corner – Mental Health Month

B is for Breathe: The ABCs of Coping with Fussy and Frustrating Feelings (Kids Healthy Coping Skills series) By Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd What can kids do to cope when they have big feelings? Some might find it helpful to create art. Others might want a hug, or to listen to music, or go for a nature walk. B is for Breathe contains all of these ideas and many more – one for each letter of the alphabet. Reading this read more

Reveal: The Masks We See and Those We Don’t

Whether you participate in Halloween or not, October 31st has many children and the young at heart dressing up in costumes and wearing masks. Today, the pandemic has given many of us cause to wear masks to protect ourselves from the COVID-19. But what is behind the masks you don’t see? What do they reveal? While having these discussions with your children, consider Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 2 to October 8. Read how this week can have read more

Using Transracial Journeys Conversation Cards

In our post, Where Did the Calendar Come From?, we discuss how the calendar is the perfect tool for celebrating certain moments while preparing for tougher ones. For honoring each person in the family who is connected to your child and to you. And to ensure you're making time each month to talk with intention about adoption and differences of race, culture, and class. In this post we discuss how best to incorporate the calendar and your Transracial Journeys Conversation Cards read more

Book Corner: The Last White Man

The Last White Man Written by Mohsin Hamid Adult   The latest short novel (almost a folktale) from New York Times bestselling author Mohsin Hamid, posits an allegorical world in which every human being becomes brown-skinned. If you have enjoyed Jose Saramago’s “Blindness” or Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, this story is for you.

Black Excellence: Colin Kaepernick and Nessa Diab

This month, Transracial Journeys would like to take the opportunity to feature Colin Kaepernick and Nessa Diab. Colin is an American athlete and activist who is also adopted! He came to great prominence as the San Francisco 49er quarterback who kneeled during the national anthem at football games to protest police brutality towards Black people.   In 2016, Kap launched the non profit Know Your Rights Camp that teaches, supports and nourishes African American children to have a brighter future. read more

September is for Curiosity and Reclaiming the Calendar

In September we focus on curiosity and our family's relationship to dates and special days. The calendar is the perfect tool to: • Celebrate the special moments and prepare for the harder ones. • Honor every person in the family who is connected to your child and to you. • Ensure you are making time each month to talk with intention about adoption and differences of race, culture, and class. September Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial read more

Where Did the Calendar Come From?

- by Avril McInally, Transracial Journeys Secretary When humankind started cultivating and harvesting our own food, we began using calendars. We’ve utilized many different types: Mayan, Egyptian, Advent, solar, Julian and Gregorian to name just a few. Early on, we also used calendars as tools to chart the stars or mark natural occurrences like the annual flooding caused by the River Nile. More recently, we’ve used calendars to manage deadlines, schedule activities and remember important anniversaries. What does your calendar read more

August is for Growth: Always Learning and Growing

It’s back to school time, but not just for kids! Parents can and should stay curious and committed to learning and growing especially when they are parenting children of another race. There will always be so much to learn! Having intentional and planned conversations about adoption and race will give everyone in the family an opportunity to get in touch with their thoughts and feelings and will augment the conversations you are already having. August Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About read more

Family Camp 2022 Highlights

Thank you to all our families that attended Transracial Journeys Family Camp 2022, “Commitment, Community, Courage and Culture” This year, fifteen new families came to camp for the first time. They were hosted by the board and given an introduction to our community at our first ever New Family Orientation. We hosted a bibliotherapeutic book sale, we toasted marshmallows for smores and had a great talent show. Some of us fished and some of us tumbled with Mr. Todd. A read more

Book Corner – Back to School

All Are Welcome By Alexandra Penfold Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman The Day You Begin By Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by Rafael Lopez The first day of school is scary – especially when you are worried about fitting in. Will there be other kids who look like you? Will the other kids like you if your clothes or lunch or language is different from theirs? Both of these reassuring books feature happy inclusive classrooms. Children of different colors, nationalities, and religions are read more

Megan and Jeffrey Bain Present on Creating Connections to Families of Origin

Transracial Journeys is excited to welcome the Bain family to Transracial Journey's Family Camp 2022, August 4-7th and feature Megan and Jeffrey Bain as presenters.  Megan and Jeffrey Bain are parents of four from Rhode Island - two through adoption and foster care and two biologically. The couple will be featured presenters and lead a discussion in helping us better understand the practical and emotional elements of creating connections to family of origin.     Megan and Jeffrey Bain became foster read more

Zack Fried: Recognizing Challenges of Transracial Adoption Today

Transracial Journeys is pleased to introduce Zack Fried as one of the featured presenters for Family Camp 2022, August 4-7th. Zack Fried is a transracial adoptee, who thoroughly enjoys discussing his adoption story with those within the adoption community, as well as those learning more about the adoption community. Zack's presentation will be focused on helping us to understand the importance of recognizing the challenges of transracial adoption today.      Zack facilitates a support group for adoptees over the age read more

TRJ Announces Hannah Jackson Matthews M.S. Ed as a Featured Speaker for 2022

Transracial Journeys is pleased to announce Hannah Jackson Matthews, M.S. Ed., as a featured presenter for Family Camp 2022, August 4-7th. Hannah will be sharing her experiences and expertise helping us to better understand the importance of connections to family and culture of origin as well as how to navigate racism. As a writer, an educator, a speaker and a transracial adoptees champion, Hannah has made it her mission to advocate for the needs of transracial adoptees. Matthews, a transracial adoptee read more

Book Corner: My Seven Black Fathers

My Seven Black Fathers: A Young Activist’s Memoir Of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole By Will Jawando   Will Jawando is a civil rights lawyer, an activist, and a loving husband and father of four. Currently a councilmember in Montgomery County, Maryland, he has worked for Nancy Pelosi, Sherrod Brown, and Barack Obama. My Seven Black Fathers is the story of how Will grew from a young boy with a white mother and an absent father read more

Black Excellence: Todd Kennedy

Todd Kennedy is our camp counselor and athletic director extraordinaire.  Our children have come to love taking tumbling classes with Mr. Todd over the past several years, and he’s looking forward to seeing his kids and welcoming new families to camp this summer. Mr. Todd has a special ministry with youth and has taught tumbling to over 9,000 kids in Cleveland, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights.  He started tumbling at the age of eleven and grew up learning on grass, read more

June, a Month of Celebrations

- by Avril McInally, Transracial Journeys Secretary Hello June! Hello Summer! Hello to a plethora of days on the calendar to honor, acknowledge, and/or celebrate. Take your pick from this list, folx! ● June 1 | Global Day of Parents. ● June 5 | World Environment Day. ● June 12 | Pulse Night of Remembrance. ● June 19 | Juneteenth. ● June 19 | Fathers’ Day. ● June 27 | National PTSD Awareness Day. ● June 26 | LGBT Equality read more

June Fathers’ Day: Claiming Family Realities

Fathers’ Day came a bit later than Mothers’ Day and there are many of the same things to think about and reflect on as we come to this day and the men that are part of our lives as fathers and father figures. (See our post last month about Mothers' Day for some additional thoughts around the complexities that adoptive parents can face.) June Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send our families conversation cues read more

Book Corner: Why Not You?

Why Not You? Written by Ciara and Russell Wilson Illustrated by Jessica Gibson Preschool-2nd grade   How can children make their big dreams come true? The encouraging rhyming text of this colorful picture book encourages kids to believe in themselves, work hard, and try again when they meet obstacles along the way. The joyful illustrations are action-packed with diverse children playing and pursuing their dreams. Why Not You is a happy and inspiring confidence booster!

Mothers’ Day: Claiming Family Realities

As a country we have been celebrating Mothers’ Day since the 19th century, honoring women who play a pivotal role in the lives of children of any age. For some, Mothers’ Day can bring the feelings of both celebration and complexity in very poignant ways. We can both celebrate the mothers/mother figures that are active in our lives and we can also wonder and have emotions surrounding the mother that is not in our life as much or at all

Black Excellence: Maya Angelou

Born in 1928, Marguerite Annie Johnson grew to be one of the most important American literary figures of the 19th and 20th centuries. You may better recognize her as Maya Angelou, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. She was also known for her work as a civil rights activist, a Calypso singer, a dancer, a poet and more.  Over the course of her life, she was awarded more than 50 honorary degrees as well as the Presidential read more

‘Mother Wit’

It’s May! Our nurseries are bustling with customers searching for that “ just right“ plant to gift that special someone on Mothers’ Day*. Yours truly has also been searching for some “just right” inspiration for this month’s newsletter. Serendipitously, I came across this quote from Maya Angelou: “I’m grateful to intelligent people. That doesn’t mean educated. That doesn’t mean intellectual. I mean really intelligent. What black old people used to call ‘mother wit’... intelligence that you had in your mother’s read more

Black Excellence: Kayla, Mary & Tiara

This month’s Black Excellence piece features three of our young counselors.  For more about how our children can transition from young camper to Camp Counselor, read this month's feature article "The Arc of Identity." Kayla Bell Kayla Bell Pronouns: She/They Kayla is currently a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Kent State University. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Education from Ohio State University in 2018. She works as a building substitute at Breakthrough Middle read more

The Arc of Identity

In our April, 2021 Newsletter article entitled “What’s in a Name?,” We wrote about identity and the names our children carry. In this month’s set of cards, April writes, “When your child is adopted, there’s another world, another narrative, and perhaps another name that accompanies them along with their “who am I?” journey. The way in which we build a strong and healthy identity often begins with our names as one of our central building blocks.” Finding Community Identity development read more

April Beginnings: What’s in a Name?

Your name is central and significant to who you are and, in essence, can be the keystone of identity. When your child is adopted, there’s another world, another narrative, and perhaps another name that accompanies them along with their “who am I?” journey. The way in which we build a strong and healthy identity often begins with our names as one of our central building blocks. April Pro-Tip to Foster Conversations About Transracial Adoptions At Transracial Journeys we send our read more

Venus and Serena Williams – Black Excellence

Image from Sports Illustrated.   During Women’s History Month we shine a light on Serena and Venus Willams.  These two strong sisters are the epitome of strength, grace, and excellence. Whether on or off the tennis court both women have continued to show and prove how dedication and commitment can turn gifts and talent into winning records, successful businesses and fulfilling personal lives. “I love me. I’ve learned to love me. I’ve been like this my whole life and I read more

The Luck Code

It’s March! The spring equinox/first day of spring is on March 20 and March is Women’s History Month. It’s also St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 - a day when “everyone is Irish” and, more than any other time of the year, “luck” is in the air. For families formed by adoption, there’s a type of “code talk” surrounding the concept of luck. If I had a dollar for every time a stranger told my child how lucky she was read more