Lancaster-based social space innovator offers help for adoptive parents
- Isaac Etter’s paid parenting platform, Identity, caters to foster and adoptive parents, with subscribers across the U.S., Canada, and even New Zealand.
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Two-year-old Isaac Etter toddled around his new living room, his brown skin standing in stark contrast to that of his white adoptive parents.
Twenty-two years later, sharing his transracial adoptive story would spark an opportunity to help thousands of other transracial adoptive families while growing his mission-focused business, Identity, a learning community based in Lancaster.
Creating a safe community
In May 2021, Isaac spent a weekend holed up in an Atlanta hotel. He had spent four years on the road, sharing his story and training adoption agencies and families around the country about transracial adoption through Etter Consulting.
But Isaac was ready to make a shift. There was only so much he could do with individual training. He wanted to create an online platform that could reach thousands of adoptive families at once with knowledge and a safe space to ask questions.
“I asked, How could I take the unique and honest experiences that were happening in my trainings and create an online platform where people could learn about all types of adoption?” he says.
A new Identity
From that vision, Isaac launched Identity in the summer of 2021.
“Our mission,” he says, “is to create the best parenting platform for foster and adoptive parents.”
By January 2022, Isaac had transformed Identity to a paid service and by the end of 2022 had over 250 subscribers. Through his years at Etter Consulting, Isaac had developed a broad network. Identity quickly became a suggested resource at adoption agencies across the United States and in Canada and New Zealand.
In the summer of 2022, Isaac wrote his first guidebook, “A Practical Guide to Transracial Adoption.” It’s the first in a series of guidebooks in the works at Identity.
Sections on topics such as black hair care, black skin care, adopting after infertility, and trauma-informed parenting are meant to serve as roadmaps and quick reference guides for adoptive and foster parents.
“We’re bringing this really authentic truth in a way that parents don’t feel overwhelmed,” Isaac says.
Mending the tears
Isaac is the first to admit that adoption isn’t always a beautiful experience that works out perfectly. As a black child adopted by a white family in a primarily white community, Isaac grew up knowing little about racism or black cultural identity.
Through the process of building Identity, Isaac has mended tears in his relationship with his adoptive parents. He and his mom will launch a podcast in 2023 to talk about their adoption experiences and how to avoid the pitfalls that his family struggled through.
“Kids notice when you’re trying,” says Isaac, who is the parent of a toddler. “It took me a long time to appreciate my parents.”
As Identity continues to grow, Isaac hopes that eventually it will be offered by every state agency to adoptive families.
“I hope that Identity will help reshape how child welfare is done,” he says. “There’s a lot of work and a lot of potential to be done that can drastically change how children can be impacted.”
Following his passion into the unknown was never the hard part for Isaac. Dealing with the economic side of a socially minded, mission-driven business was another matter.
“Figuring out how some ideas make money is hard,” he says, “but if you can build something you care about that’s sustainable, I think you should. The world needs more innovation in social spaces.”