The recital hall in Calvin’s Covenant Fine Arts Center was packed for a conversation with Rhonda Roorda ’92, author of the new book In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption.

She spoke to adoptive families and members of the Calvin community about her personal journey and what she has learned during her 20-year study. Roorda, an African-American who was adopted by white, Dutch parents, praises adoptive parents—including her own.

However, Roorda’s message is that transracial adoptees must understand their own cultural stories and be prepared for the world outside their adoptive homes. Their parents must ensure that such understanding and knowledge is available to them.

“We know that many transracial adoptees are not connecting with communities of people that look like them,” she said. “These things make it hard for children to form healthy self-identity.”

Roorda urged transracial adoptive families to form close relationships with persons who look like their children and to intentionally educate about history and cultural issues.