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

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

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

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

Synopsis

"Transracial adoption is a controversial area of research and practice in child welfare. The authors, a sociologist and a social worker, have contributed much to its understanding through a series of studies that began in 1972 of white families that have adopted nonwhite (mostly black) children. This book reports on the latest phase of their research, which was based on interviews with most of the families and adoptees in the original sample. The purpose of the interviews was to explore the adoptees' racial identities and self-esteem, and the long-term effects of transracial adoption on the adoptees and their families. The authors present their findings in a clear, vivid, and coherent manner; objectively examine the issues raised by the study; and thoughtfully formulate implications for policy and practice. The study supports their major conclusion that where no appropriate permanent inracial placement can be found for a nonwhite child . . . transracial adoption should be seriously considered.' Atimely, unique, and sophisticated work that should be read widely by students, practitioners, and policymakers in child welfare."n Choice

Excerpt

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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