Ethnicity Unknown

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Hello, I'm new to forums, so apologies if I'm using this in the wrong way. We have been provisionally matched (awaiting panel) with a little boy where there is uncertainty about his ethnicity. Just wondering whether anyone else has adopted a child in this situation and can advise? I also wanted to ask whether there are other posts that can be read on this forum?- The forum doesn't appear to have any posts Thanks very much

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Hi, this forum is new so hasnt built up a history yet. If you are quick go to the old adoption uk website where there is a forum with a lot more on it , (www. adoption.org.uk.) My son is dual heritage, african/white british and I know his african ethnic group. Is specific ethniticy is unclear do you at least know what general area you are looking at eg African, Asian ? In the absence of specifics I think all you can do is bring your son up with a general awareness, to be proud of what he is and to be OK with difference. Although I know his BFs ethnicity, most of the stuff we do is pretty general Africa, I dont focus on that specific area, so we listen to all sorts of music, go to festivals, read folk tales, watch all the wildlife programmes etc, dont worry too much about food as he prefers pizza! I focus on him being proud of what he is, that he has lovely hair and skin colour, how to look after his hair and skin. I took him to Gambia this year, a long way from his BFs home but African cultures have very similar threads and core values etc so it was a very positive experience for him with regard to connecting with his African heritage. His BF country is Christian so religion is not an issue for us but if you suspect that your son has a religious heritage that isnt yours you may have to do some more around that. If you live somewhere that is reasonbaly multi cultural its not hard now to tap into things to raise awarness of different cultures activities, events you can go to

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Interesting post.

Our son who came at 23mths, now 9, it was said he was White British mother/ father unknown but thought to be Black British. We always thought he looked middle Eastern. Friends of ours had a party and their was a family there from Morocco, well our son was the dead stamp for their 2 boys only a bit lighter!!! Since then for other health issues he has had genetic profiling and that came back as 1/2 Middle Eastern orginin .

We are C/E and he attends Sunday School and as far as he/we are concerned he is a dual heritage lad like a lot of his friends. He knows about other cultures from home/school.

As i am Black British he knows a lot about West Indian culture as well.

DH is white from up north, so we go up there often and son is comfortable in both cultures.

Take care


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Thanks very much for your replies- very helpful.

This little ones Ethnicity is thought to be Asian/White British and we have in a very diverse Community with plenty of Asian friends, even though we are white British.

Do you have any advice on how to present the uncertainty about Paternity to a young child?

We have also thought about genetic testing when he is perhaps old enough to understand it's limitations. Glad to hear that your son seems to be doing so well

Thanks again


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We have always talked openly about adoption to ds. He is aware birth mum is white and her name and have explained that we think birth dad is from the middle east , but not 100% sure.He has asked what his name is, but we explained truefully that we did not known.He seemed to accept this for now.I know there is a book called "who am i" which i am going to try and source.



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Just wanted to see if anyone has anything new/relevant to add!? We adopted our son at 14 months a year and a half ago. His paternity and paternal ethnicity are unknown. Our matching panel said we should be supported in ethnic profiling which we did...but it is not endorsed by NHS and NHs geneticists I have discussed this with are very dubious re its accuracy.

We also promised to go on a 'support positive identity' type course but have yet to find one that caters for unknown ethnicity..I find it all a bit difficult...filling in forms, questions from friends family and strangers etc, if I find it tricky how is my gorgeous boy going to feel when he starts being asked directly??

We currently live in an area of London where people and especially children come in all colours and no-one bats an eye lid...but we have run out of space and can't afford to upsize in this area....gaaah!!

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I adopted a toddler mum ethnicity is assumed black/white from photos but SW didn't contact her to confirm and father us unknown but assumed black however I think she looks more Asian. I live in a very mixed community where the majority of kids are mixed somehow so I don't think it will be a major problem I plan to tell her what I know that's all I can do.

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Hi, its a difficult area isn't it. I am an adoptee and was always told that my birth father was Jamaican. But since revisiting my adoption records during my own adoption assessment I have found that it doesn't state that anywhere- instead saying he is West Indian! I don't regret this misinformation though as it was helpful to have a cultural hook when growing up as part of my identity. I grew up in a predominantly white area and being mixed race meant that I was frequently asked where I'm "from". This always led to me feeling I had to out myself as adopted due to growing up with parents of a different ethnicity. This was quite diffcult during teenage years as I had a double difference of being a diferent ethnicity to otherrs and being an adoptee. I now live in a much more multi cultural area and so hardly ever get asked where I "come from". I would therefore say life woud have been easier living in a more culturally diverse area growing up. Easier said than done though! Do you know why genetic profiling isn't endorsed by the NHS? Seems to me that if you could find out a likely ethnicity you would at least have something tangible to start promoting/ exploring/ discusiing as LO grows up.

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I find these posts interesting as our son has recently been placed with us. To me he looks clearly mixed race, although very fair skinned. We are white British, but live in a very mixed area of London and have relatives living locally who are mixed race. Our ad's paternity is unknown, his mum is 1/4 black, but looks white so her son looks more mixed race than she does.

For the ethnicity monitoring forms we will state that our son is mixed race as I feel that is how he is perceived and I guess they are there to monitor for discrimination. For people who ask we will say that he has African heritage and leave it at that.

We will probably never know his full heritage.

Your post has really helped me Pink Fizz, as being able to tell people that he is mixed race white British/African will probably make him feel much more secure & confident and I think that while he is little we will focus more on this rather than speculating on what the exact real situation might be

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Thanks so much for your response pinkfizz, it's so useful to hear of your experience as an adoptee. I don't understand why the ethnicity profiling tests are not endorsed by the NHS but I guess they only endorse things they've tried and tested (??!) I'm guessing. Anyway the test is not very specific and doesn't even differentiate between sub-saharan African and Carribean. I'd be tempted to submit samples again or to other companies to see if they came back with the same result (but it's so expensive!). It's so hard to tell when they're little how important this will all be for them. As has been mentioned above I guess all we can do is gently explain what we know and the limitations of that information...

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We adopted a little one who's mother is mixed black white , however father is unknow but baby is very dark so we assume dad is black however I have had a few long stares from Somali women and we have said she looks a bit Somali so we tick mixed other on forms

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Hi Again

I posted the original question – our little boy has now been with us for 13 months and we too have struggled with the questions at times. For those who know he is adopted I sometimes just play thick when the “Where does he come from” question comes along and say “the West Midlands”- most people don’t enquire further!

However like you Inwonderland9, we are thinking ahead to when he has a better understanding. We want him to grow up happy with or proud of his ethnicity, and with reasonable knowledge of it. Before our LO joined us we were told that the local authority would not support ethnicity testing because it often made it more difficult to find adopters as multiple ethnicities often come up. Our understanding is that interpreting the results of ethnicity testing is complicated, but we have decided to give it a go anyway.

We have ordered the Family Tree DNA family finder and Y-67 DNA tests (total cost about £200). We are just hoping that these will confirm our LO’s broad ethnic grouping, which we believe to be White British/Asian. We hope this will guide us to whether one of the 2 men that birth mother identified is likely to be his birth father. However we know that the results may be so complicated that we are no further forward and we are also aware that even if Asian heritage is confirmed the religious heritage (Muslim/Sikh/Hindu) won’t be. In case it is helpful this website talks about the difficulties of ethnicity testing in a different context http://dna-explained.com/2013/10/04/ethnicity-results-true-or-not/.

We’re not planning to tell him anything of this testing, but are working on the assumption that by the time this is an important issue to him, the tests will have improved and if he chooses, we can try again.

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After watching the BBC motherland documentary we used this company which was featured http://www.rootsforreal.com/motherland_en.php it would be interesting to know how happy you are with the results tobymorey.

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My daughter is mixed ethnicity. White British BM, parternity unknown. I would be really intrested to know if those of you who have carried out DNA ethnicity testing have found it informative. How much detail does it actually give you? Has anyone tested a girl as I understand there are less test as you cannot use the y chromosome to look at the paternal line. Any feedback would be appreciated

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Hi, We have now had our results back . The first lot were very complicated, and DH spent quite a while understanding the terminology. We then applied for some more specific gene sites to be checked, as these would give extra information - when these results came back we believe it narrowed his paternal ethnicity to a specific region (although across more than one country) which has been useful to us. Unfortunately, the whole testing industry assumes that people will dig in and learn the terminology - there seem to be very few accessible explanations of how it all works. The tests that we used probably were male-only, I'm afraid - they look for specific mutations which people know happened at a point in history, and this allows us to say that 1000 years ago our DS's great (to the power 20) grandpa probably came from XXX region...

We have found it useful - even if it is confusing. We still don't quite know how to translate this into a Life Story though still worth doing.

Hope this helps!

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Really interesting Tobeymorey. Thanks for the update. We have recently adopted a baby with paternal ethnicity unknown so will give the tests a try using the companies that you used at some point in the future.

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Thanks for updating. Would you mind saying which company you used?

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It was Family Tree DNA company and did the family finder" test and Y-67 DNA test (they just involved rubbing the inside of the cheek to get cells from there

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