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The practice of transracial adoption often triggers strong emotions, effecting views on its ethical validity, both from individuals who are pro transracial adoption and those who strongly resist transracial adoption. This chapter will consider transracial adoption of children of African-Caribbean origin and its psychological impact along a continuum of psychological wellbeing, psychological adjustment and aspects of mental health. The chapter will draw on literature from the USA and, where available, from the UK.
One of the earliest publications on transracial adoption by Grow and Shapiro (1974) explored the psychological adjustment of African-American children placed within white American families. This study along with later studies (Silverman & Feigelman, 1981) concluded that the children were adjusting well in placement. Further early research appeared to suggest that transracial placements have little negative impact on issues of self-esteem, racial or self-identity or intellectual development (Curtis, 1996; Hayes, 1993; Hollingsworth, 1997, 1998; McRoy, 1994; Simon, Altstein & Melli, 1994; Vrogeh, 1997).
The undermining impact on mental health for transracial adoptees appears to be an argument related to the disconnect between the child’s developing racial identity and lack of preparation for racism and the cultural and ethnic group social devaluation likely to be experienced in a white racist society. The impact of loss of ethnic identity is said to be a key issue in the research on transracial adoption. Ethnic identity is the connection or recognition that one is a member of a specific ethnic or racial group and coming to adopt those associated characteristics into the group associated cultural and historical connections into oneself identity (Rotheram & Phinney, 1987). The establishment of a secure and accurate racial identity is said to be a protective factor in psychological adjustment. This chapter will explore issues and narratives related to this argument.
In this chapter, we use the concepts of emotional labor or emotion work to examine the experiences of transracial families – white families rearing Black adoptees. We…
In this chapter, we use the concepts of emotional labor or emotion work to examine the experiences of transracial families – white families rearing Black adoptees. We focus on the emotion work done by the parents to inculcate and develop positive racial identities for their adoptive children as their adoptees experience racial mistreatment. We also use the concept of white racial framing to examine strategies for effectively coping with racial mistreatment. African Americans have more emotion work than the members of dominant group because of their status as stigmatized minorities in American society. African Americans adopted by white families have even greater emotion work because they tend to have the extra burden of living in predominately white communities where there are fewer people of color to serve as positive role models in the socialization process.
We discuss adoption as a diverse family structure in America. Adoption has existed in some form throughout the history with the portrayal varying by historical epoch…
We discuss adoption as a diverse family structure in America. Adoption has existed in some form throughout the history with the portrayal varying by historical epoch. Adoption has been both disparaged and idealized to perpetuate the interest of elite players. This chapter discusses adoption in terms of the changing demographic which 21st century families face. In this manuscript, we first discuss the history of adoption in the United States including its impact as social control of premarital sex. Then the three players in the adoption triad are discussed and analyzed. Finally, we highlight how demographics of race, class, gender, and sexuality impact the adoption experience by 21st century families. Specifically, we explore the recent National Survey of Adoptive Parents from the United States Center for Disease Control and look at the modern adoption experience
Popularly viewed as a humanitarian issue that transcends not only geopolitical boundaries of nationality but also sociopolitical borders of race, the ways in which…
Popularly viewed as a humanitarian issue that transcends not only geopolitical boundaries of nationality but also sociopolitical borders of race, the ways in which transnational adoption reflects the racialization of children are often ignored. Because adoption is not a random process of family building but rather a purposive endeavor that involves the multiple dynamics of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and disability, it is important to recognize how trends in transnational adoption intersect with shifting racial structure. This paper aims to examine visas issued to orphans entering the USA from 1990‐2005, international programs offered by US adoption agencies, and juxtaposes these with policies governing adoption in sending countries to illustrate how transnational adoption mirrors these emerging racial categories.
Using the tripartite racial framework argued to characterize the shifting US racial structure, the author located adoptions in the top 20 sending countries to the USA for the past 16 years within this framework to assess how patterns of transnational adoption reflect the shifting US racial structure. To try to assess the extent to which adoptive parent “demand” intersects with agency programs and the policies of other countries, the author also performed a content analysis of an online adoption directory with 236 private adoption agencies (120 of which maintained (international adoption programs) and US Department of State data on adoption policies of the top 20 sending countries.
Transnational adoption patterns for the past 16 years lend support to the argument of a shifting racial structure and mirror the tripartite system described by Bonilla‐Silva. For the past 16 years the majority of adoptions have been either from the White or Honorary White categories whereas 20 per cent of adoptions have been from the Collective Black category. While policies of sending countries no doubt factor into which programs are offered by US private agencies, Department of State information suggests that the restrictiveness of countries’ adoption policies cannot by itself explain which countries are in the top 20. A significant part of this reciprocal process must include a focus on “demand” to explain who gets adopted. Data on transnational patterns of adoption illustrate all too clearly which children are preferred, aligning with the emerging Latin American‐like racial hierarchy in the USA.
To the author's knowledge, this application has not been attempted nor has anyone considered adoption (domestic or transnational) as another social indicator of intimacy (albeit for a relatively small segment of the population).
This article summarizes and makes the case for the continued relevancy of the scholarly works of the late sociologist Norma Williams. Informed by the multicultural…
This article summarizes and makes the case for the continued relevancy of the scholarly works of the late sociologist Norma Williams. Informed by the multicultural tradition in which Norma Williams and the author both inhabit, and drawing upon their autobiographical experiences as data, the article makes an argument for the relevancy, indeed desirability of multiculturalism (especially as an alternative to assimilation) for clarifying the multiple ways in which diversity and diverse claims promote basic human rights. Drawing extensively from the scholarly works of Herbert Blumer, we highlight how some of the assumptions upon which assimilationist arguments are constructed do not hold up empirically.
This article aims to focus on social structures and national and international factors as they influence international adoption. Special attention is paid to the impact of…
This article aims to focus on social structures and national and international factors as they influence international adoption. Special attention is paid to the impact of media, social welfare policies, legislation, and international monitoring groups on international adoption.
The article reviews relevant literature in sociology, social work, and the media. Much of the focus is on adoption in the USA since it has the largest number of internationally adopted children.
International adoption is becoming more common and is likely to continue to do so despite the concerns of some countries, some minority groups, and international monitoring agencies regarding trafficking in children, cultural genocide, and social justice issues related to transracial/intercultural adoption.
Adoption has generally been studied by social workers, psychologists and others concerned with its impact on the individual adoptee, birth mother and adoptive family. This article presents a sociological perspective of international adoption and considers its implications for families. The article is useful for policy makers, practitioners and others concerned with the occurrence of international adoption and its potential consequences.
Adoption literature now speaks with many voices. Federal and state agencies and local advocacy groups are enthusiastic supporters of adoptions, the basic belief being kids…
Adoption literature now speaks with many voices. Federal and state agencies and local advocacy groups are enthusiastic supporters of adoptions, the basic belief being kids need homes. The bottleneck is the most conservative sector, the local agency. These are the agencies one deals with if planning to adopt a child. This brief essay attempts to give some perspective to the recent literature on adoption trends and practices. The numbers in parentheses refer to the entry numbers of titles in the bibliographic listing at the end of the article.
The first question to be addressed on this issue is what is open adoption? What follows in this article is a survey of definitions in the literature which reveals a broad spectrum of definitions of openness. Most of the definitions which follow are based on the range of practices which researchers have come across during their interviews with families who have been involved in an open adoption. Essentially, open adoption is a term which describes the continued contact between an adopted child and his/her birth parent(s) after adoption. Open adoption has also been referred to as the adoption triangle as there are three parties involved in the adoption rather than the traditional two.