Sylvia Jarrus

Betsy and Jeff Banghart had been trying to get pregnant for seven years before they decided to adopt. In January of 2017 Betsy got a call at work from the adoption agency, she cancelled her flight to the D.C. Women’s March and two weeks later they brought Evie home. A recent study from the Institute of Family Studies revealed that trans-racial adoptions have increased by 50 percent over the last decade. 

Betsy embraced learning about the black community and takes steps to ensure Evie has “racial mirrors” or role models in her life who look like her by enrolling her in French lessons taught by a black instructor and also hosts monthly meetups at the Willow Tree Family Center in Lansing for trans-racially adopted kids and their families. 

“There are extra things you need to do and if you’re not prepared to do it then you should not do it because you can’t just ignore race,” said Betsy. “It really matters, and even though it is extra work it is so worth it.” 

Evie Banghart,1, plays hide and seek with her dad on Nov. 28, 2018 at the Willow Tree Family Center in Lansing. Her mom, Betsy is the founder of the Lansing transracial adoption group, but struggles to get people to come to meetings. It is often only the three of them that show up.

Evie holds hands with her French teacher Gaelle Cassin-Ross during a lesson on Dec. 5, 2018 at Aux Petit Soins in Lansing. "I really love that they are not shy about talking about race," said Cassin-Ross. "They acknowledge their daughters life will be different and they’re aware of that without having that direct experience." In transracial adoptions it's important that children have "racial mirrors" in their life so they can have the opportunity to interact and view their community in a positive light.

Evie and her mom hold hands  at the Banghart's house in East Lansing.

Evie plays during a Black Santa Meet and Greet event on Dec. 15, 2018 at the Willow Tree Family Center in Lansing.

A daily ritual for Betsy and Evie is doing her hair every morning on Feb. 22, 2019 at the Bangharts house. "It's great because I love doing her hair it's a special time between us," she said.

Evie reacts to a card on her 2nd birthday surrounded by family on Jan. 12, 2019 at McCartney Irish dance studio in East Lansing.

A Black baby doll lays in a bin at the Banghart's home on Jan. 25, 2019 in East Lansing.

A book by Spike Lee sits on a coffee table in the Bangharts home  in East Lansing.

Evie touches an old photo her adoption photo album of Betsy and Jeff when they adopted her on Jan. 25, 2019 at the Banghart's house in East Lansing. The Bangaharts are open with Evie about her adoption and are in contact with her birth mom.

Evie looks out the window in January, 2019 at the Banghart's home in East Lansing.

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