"A Healthy Black Identity" Transracial Adoption, Middle-Class Families, and Racial Socialization

By Butler-Sweet, Colleen | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

"A Healthy Black Identity" Transracial Adoption, Middle-Class Families, and Racial Socialization


Butler-Sweet, Colleen, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


INTRODUCTION

  Black children belong physically and psychologically and culturally
  in black families where they receive the total sense of themselves
  and develop a sound projection of their future. Only a black family
  can transmit the emotional and sensitive subtleties of perceptions
  and reactions essential for a black child's survival in a racist
  society. Human beings are products of their environment and develop
  their sense of values, attitudes, and self-concept within their own
  family structures. Black children in white homes are cut off from the
  healthy development of themselves as black people (National
  Association of Black Social Workers, 1972, p. 2-3).

More than 35 years ago the National Association of Black Social Workers [NABSW] formally declared its opposition to transracial adoption [TRA], particularly the adoption of black children by white families. While the controversy reached a fever pitch in 1972 with the NABSW position paper, the debate surrounding transracial adoption has waned over the past decade. The controversy has been recently re-ignited, however, by the May 2008 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Report which questions the benefits of "color blind" adoptions as mandated by the Multiethnic Placement Act. Based on a synthesis of the literature on transracial adoption, the report recommends that race be reinstated as one factor in the adoption placement process. Proponents of transracial adoption have responded by arguing that re-instating race as a factor in adoptions will mark a return to the practice of rigid race matching that was widespread throughout the 1970's and 1980's (Crary, 2008).

The transracial adoption controversy has typically focused on concerns that white families, no matter how well intentioned, may be ill equipped to help black children survive in a racist society and develop a healthy sense of themselves and racial identity (Grow & Shapiro, 1974; McRoy & Zurcher, 1983; Simon and Alstein, 2002). Critiques are often based on assumptions about the identity of black children raised by their biological parents, yet there is little focus placed on black children raised in black homes who may or may not also struggle with racial identity development. Moreover, while the race of parents in relation to children is at the center of the transracial adoption debate, studies rarely delve into socialization practices of biracial families headed by one white and one black parent.

Most studies of transracial adoption, including those cited in the recent Donaldson Report, also overlook the importance of class in shaping identity. Similar to the understanding that family is critical to racial identity formation, socioeconomic class also has a tremendous impact on how parents socialize their children (Brimeyer, Miller, & Perucci, 2006; Dereene & Tai, 1975; Hansen, 2005; Hochschild, 1989; Kohn & Schooler, 1983; Lareau, 2003). The small but important literature that does exist on middle-class black identity suggests that the experience of being black and middle-class is different from that of the black working-class and poor. Recently, Lacy (2007) has found that the black middle-class faces a dilemma whereby the disadvantages of being black and the advantages of being middle-class are combined, shaping a complex and multidimensional middle-class black identity. However, most of the literature on black identity and transracial adoption tends to overlook the importance of socioeconomic class. Moreover, the majority of research on transracial families focuses on middle-class informants, while research on black families typically focuses on the working-class and poor (Lamb, 1999; McAdoo, 2006; Taylor, Chatters, Tucker & Lewis, 1990; Willie, 1991). To fully understand and fairly compare racial identity development for black youths from different racial family backgrounds, it is necessary to understand how class impacts their racial identity development. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"A Healthy Black Identity" Transracial Adoption, Middle-Class Families, and Racial Socialization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.