Adoption, Race, and Identity: From Infancy through Adolescence

Adoption, Race, and Identity: From Infancy through Adolescence

Adoption, Race, and Identity: From Infancy through Adolescence

Adoption, Race, and Identity: From Infancy through Adolescence


This volume examines the innovative placement of nonwhite (predominantly black) adoptees with white parents. In addition to reviewing recent court decisions involving race as a factor in child custody, Simon and Altstein examine the research to date on this topic, including adoption policy and practice as carried out by some adoption agencies. Although there are a few anecdotal portraits of typical situations, the work is almost exclusively devoted to actual responses to questions about the experiences of these families. The authors conclude that the majority of families and their adopted children are well integrated into society and that the adoptees now, as adults, do not see themselves as any less "black" than their in-racially raised peers.


This volume incorporates all three phases of the longitudinal study of transracial adoptees and their families that we began in 1972 and continued in 1979 and 1984. It traces the subjects from early childhood into adolescence.

In each phase, we collected information about the adopted children's social and racial identities, the attitudes and awareness about race and racial differences held by the birth and adopted children, and the parents' beliefs about the cohesiveness of their family and the strength of the commitments the children had to them and to each other. in all of our encounters with these families, we were impressed with their openness and with their willingness to lay their feelings on the table. When some of them were going through particularly difficult times, years, for example, when their adopted children were stealing from them or their birth and adopted children were drinking and using drugs, they talked about those events in great detail and with a lot of affect. the children also, especially when they were adolescents, shared their feelings--about their families, about their attitudes toward having been adopted by a white family, about their birth parents and cultures, and about their future--in an open manner.

Bringing together this 12-year study in one volume gives the reader a richer and deeper understanding of what the experiences have involved for the parents, for the adoptees, and for the children born into the families. We are very grateful to our subjects for their cooperation and support. Obviously, without their willingness to open up their homes to us, to give us of their time, and to share with us the pleasures, as well as the pains, of their experiences, this work could not have been done.

We also owe a great deal to our field staff, who conducted interviews that often lasted more than three hours and sometimes involved several trips to the same family to meet with all of the respondents. We thank our editor, Alison Bricken . . .

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