Melissa Guida-Richards is an author, adoptee, and advocate based in Milford.
She’s just released a book about a concerning adoption entitled ‘What White Parents Should Know about Transracial Adoption.’
“I grew up in the suburbs of New York, with my Italian and Portuguese immigrant parent,” Guida-Richards said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I learned the truth about my adoption, and discovered that I had actually been adopted from Colombia at 5 months old. It was a difficult time in my life as I tried to understand why my parents kept my origins a secret, and we had a tough few years as they tried to understand that even though they raised me as white, others had always treated me differently and questioned what I claimed to be. It was also quite difficult to understand how my very conservative family could claim to love me unconditionally when they struggled with accepting that I was Latina and multiracial.”
It was only after Guida-Richards joined several transracial adoptee support groups, and learned that many other adoptees struggled with their identity and growing up in white majority families and communities that she realized that adoptive parents aren’t always prepared for all the challenges involved in international and transracial adoption.
“The idea for the book came to me after talking with others in the adoption community and my parents, and I was lucky enough to land a book deal with North Atlantic Books,” she said.
‘What White Parents Should Know about Transracial Adoption” focuses on the history of transracial adoption and international adoption to white American families. It explores the nuances involved with adopting a child of color.
“I include tools for nurturing identity, unlearning white saviorism, and how to start these tough conversations in your family,” Guida-Richards said. “Curated from extensive research from peer-reviewed articles, as well as personal experience, and interviews with other transracial adoptees and adoptive parents, this is an extensive guide for anyone interested in adopting a child of another race.
She was adopted in 1993 from Colombia to a family in the USA. Her viral essay, ‘My Adoptive Parents Hid My Racial Identity From Me for 19 Years,’ was published in HuffPost in April 2019. She published her first book, ‘BEDTIME, THE ULTIMATE BATTLE,’ in January 2020. Guida-Richards has also had work in HuffPost, ‘Zora by Medium,’ ‘ElectricLit,’ and has appeared on podcasts such as NPR’s ‘Code Switch,’ ‘BBC Radio 4,’ ‘The Adoption and Fostering Podcast,’ and ‘Do the Work.’ She has participated on panels, such as the, ‘We the Experts: Adoptee Speaker Series’ and is also a contributing editor at ‘The Everymom.
“Melissa Guida-Richards lays bare a painful truth: That loss is central to adoption. For those who are adopted transracially and transnationally, the disappearance of culture, familiarity, and language carry added complexity,” said New York Times bestselling author and journalist Gabrielle Glaser, author of American Baby, A Mother, a Child and the Shadow History of Adoption. ”With grace and sensitivity, Guida-Richards offers clear, insightful guidance for adoptive parents to help their sons and daughters navigate the isolation, racism, and longing they inevitably feel.”
Glaser’s work specializes in mental health, medicine and culture.
“I’m an adoptive parent, I consult hopeful adoptive parents in their adoption journey, and I’m an avid adoption book enthusiast,” said Paige Knipfer, owner of Love Grown Adoption Consulting. “This book is the most comprehensive, relevant, and recommended book to anyone connected and wanting to do better in adoption.”
Based in Wisconsin, Knipfer travels to consult and assist adoptive parents.
“Many people have this ‘happily ever after’ idea of adoption, but in order to get much needed policy changes to protect adoptees and make sure adoptive parents are prepared we need more resources like this to share the nuances of adoption,” Guida-Richards said. “One example is that many people think that international adoptees automatically get citizenship but there are many adoptees without citizenship who have been deported. Laws need to change to protect all adoptees from this fate.”
She feels fortunate to land a deal with her publisher a bit prior to the beginning of COVID, but publishing really slowed down during that time.
“It was challenging writing it during the Pandemic with raising two young children while working from home,” she said. “Due to being high risk, it was a particularly scary time, and I was very thankful to be able to work from home. I also have to thank my supportive husband who was able to adjust his work schedule to help make sure I had enough time to write and meet my deadline. It was a labor of love and worth every minute of late nights to get it finished.”
‘What White Parents Should Know about Transracial Adoption.’ is available for pre-order an Amazon and anywhere books are sold online and will be in stores on October 5th, 2021.