Transracial Adoptees and Their Families: A Study of Identity and Commitment

By Rita J. Simon; Howard Altstein | Go to book overview

Introduction

The heart of this volume is Part II. It reports the results of the third phase of our study of transracial adoption, in which we interviewed 96 parents and 218 children, 111 of whom have been transracially adopted, 91 of whom have been born into the families, and 16 of whom have been adopted. This third phase occurred four and a half years after our last contacts with these families and twelve years after we interviewed them for the first time.

The data collected in this phase were aimed at answering questions about the long-term effects of transracial adoption on the adoptees and their siblings, about the adoptees' racial identities and self-esteem, and about the strength of the loyalties and commitments the parents and children have toward each other.

Personal interviews were conducted with both parents and each child, separately and privately. The parents were asked to go back in time and tell us about their successes and failures, and their pains and pleasures as a result of their decision to adopt a child of a different race. We asked that they look into the future and try to project the quality of the relationship they are likely to have with their transracially adopted child(ren), and the ties that the siblings are likely to have with each other when the children leave the family home. We also asked that they tell us about how they perceive each of their children's racial identities, scholastic and career achievements and aspirations, about their choice of friends and dates, and the decisions their children are likely to make about marriage partners and types of communities in which they will choose to live.

From the adolescents we sought information about their sense of belonging in the family, the siblings' ties to each other, how they described themselves racially and socially, their scholastic and career goals, and most of all, their feelings about having been transracially adopted.

All of the families studied had completed their first transracial adoption before 1972. They experienced disappointment and surprise at the attacks by the National Association of Black Social Workers and Native American Councils on the practice of placing black and native American children in white homes. They listened to the warnings about the likelihood that they would rear "Oreos" (children who would be black on the outside and white on the inside), who would not be able to cope with their special status.

In phases one and two, we reported that the parents were optimistic that their children would have integrated and wholesome personalities and the emotional security sufficient to allow them to make their way and gain acceptance among both black and white communities. Rather than becoming the pariahs that the Black Social Workers warned about, these children would also become

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Transracial Adoptees and Their Families: A Study of Identity and Commitment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I 1
  • 1 - Where We Are Today: Numbers, Practices, and Policies 3
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - Recent Court Rulings 12
  • Notes 22
  • Part II 25
  • 3 - Looking Back at the Familles 27
  • Notes 32
  • 4 - The Parents' Story 33
  • Notes 56
  • 5 - The Children's Account 57
  • Notes 83
  • 6 - How the Parents' and Children's Accounts Match Up 85
  • Notes 91
  • 7 - Special Families: Problems, Disappointments, Conflicts 92
  • Notes 107
  • 8 - Ordinary Families: A Collective Portrait 108
  • Notes 118
  • Part III 119
  • 9 - Effects of Abortion, Birth Rate, and Lifestyle on Inracial and Transracial Adoptions 121
  • Notes 126
  • 10 - Single Parent Adoption: A Continuing Alternative 127
  • Notes 131
  • 11 - Intercountry Adoption 132
  • Notes 138
  • Concluding Remarks and Recommendations 140
  • Note 143
  • Selected Bibliography 145
  • Index 147
  • About the Authors 151
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