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She accepts for now that she is confusingly adrift between her American and Chinese identities.

The Wells are white and live in Champaign, Illinois, a multi-cultural Big Ten university town and have gone to some effort to create a diverse environment for their son and three biological daughters.

Wells knew that raising a black son wouldn’t always be easy.

“I figured I’d have to explain some name-calling, have hard talks about language, navigate the waters when somebody’s parent won’t let my son take their daughter to prom,” she says.

“But what I have been surprised by is this: At no point in the process of considering transracial adoption did I think I would have to teach my son how to stay alive.” First, she says of her awakening, there was the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

She was active in the organization Families of Children from China.

She and her daughter returned to China for a two-week trip when Scott was 12.

Many families struggle with the question Wells is facing: how do white adoptive parents help their children of color thrive?

Today, more than 40% of adoptions are transracial in nature according to a recent survey from the Department of Health and Human Services. Transracial adoption has become a common enough sight in celebrity tabloids that since my husband and I adopted our two daughters (a 1-year old Ethiopian in 2009 and a newborn African-American last October), we have endured many unfunny jokes about being on trend.

She encouraged her daughter to apply for Chinese mentorship programs at UCal, though Scott resisted because growing up she found herself increasingly disinterested in exploring her Chinese culture.

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