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The Pros and Cons of Transracial Adoption

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Hannah Addie

on 20 November 2014

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Transcript of The Pros and Cons of Transracial Adoption

Positive Implications for Sibling Relationships
Real Brothers, Real Sisters : Learning from the White siblings of transracial adoptees (Raible, 2008)

Compassion and affection towards their adopted siblings.
Expressed ambivalence of adoption as social practice.
They seek to understand issues of race, racism and the role of cultural differences.
They made long-term connection through:
1) Interracial churches and youth groups
2) Be friends with people of color at school/ work
3) Romantic involvement

Positive Effects on Parental Interactions

According to the Centers of Diseases and Control, six percent of married women ages 15-44 and 11% of unmarried women ages 15-44 can’t conceive or have trouble keeping the baby full term. (CDC)

Couples that can’t have children are three times more likely to divorce or end cohabitation. (US News)

Having a child is better on parental relationships than not having a child at all.

Not having children lead to depression.

Women become completely fixated on becoming pregnant and men are depressed over not being able to “fix” the problem.

Positive Impact on Parent-Child Relationships
Not a lot of research done in this area compared to intraracial adoption and biological families

However, overall, transracial adoptive parent-child relationships mirror that of intraracial adoptive families

Current research has consistently found that the quality of transracial parent-child relationships is healthy, favorable, and comparable to intraracial adoption and biological families

Negative Impact on Sibling Relationships
• I interviewed a friend who has two younger sisters (5th and 7th grade) whom her parents adopted from China when they were infants
• Parents couldn’t have more children
• Chose to adopt due to knowing people who adopted from China
• Group of about 8 families that all adopted children from China
• One is from Northern China and one from Southern China

Negative Effects on Parental Interactions
Adopting Transracially Could Lead to Divorce

Adoption is a stressful process by itself but adding the stress of trying to learn about a different race can be overwhelming to a marriage

Parents that don’t focus on race may have a negative parent to child relationship which can cause friction in their marriage

The lack of knowledge about the child may cause the child to reach away from the family into their own racial group which may be hurtful to the parents and cause tension in the marriage

Negative Effects on Parent-Child Relationships
Considerations Before Adopting

Lack of information about biological parents

Prenatal history


Physical similarities between child and parents


How parents socialize themselves into child’s birth culture

How to socialize child into new culture

Child identification

Racial and cultural interactions

SIDE B (Con)
SIDE A (Pro)
The Pros and Cons of Transracial Adoption
By Hannah Addie, Jo Coachran, Megan Ficker, Sarah Jamaluddin, Ashley Lunford, Tori Renicker, Robi Simms, and Emilie Vogt
Negative Psychological Implications
Issue of Identity:

Racial identity “refers to a sense of group or collective identity based on one’s perception that he or she shares a common heritage with a particular racial group” (Chavez & Guido-DiBrito, 1999).

Hollingsworth’s (1997) meta-analysis of six cross-sectional and longitudinal studies illustrated this fact and showed that “transracial adoptees had significantly lower racial/ethnic identities than same-race adoptees” (p. 99).

Poor racial identity has been linked to higher levels of stress, depression, and lower levels of psychological well-being (Sellers, Copeland-Linder, Martin, & Lewis, 2006).
Positive Psychological Implications
It is found that transracially adopted children “will likely gain a more positive self-identification with her adoptive status and racial identity” (Morrison, 2004).

There is little evidence to support the idea that adopted children fare worse than children raised by their biological parents or children adopted by parents of their own race.

Transracial adoption can alleviate racism and racial tension in our society.

Societal racism is reduced due to increased social contact between different races.

Numerous transracial adoption studies show that the adopted children do not develop psychological problems from being adopted transracially and are able to develop positive self-esteems as well as sense of racial identity.

“The quickest cure for racism would be to have everyone in the country adopt a child of another race. No matter what your beliefs, when you hold a four-day-old infant, love her, and care for her, you don’t see skin color, you see a little person that is very much in need of your love.” (Morrison, 2004)

(2013, June 20). Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/

Chavez, A. F., & Guido-DiBrito, F. (1999). Racial and ethnic identity and development.
New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 84
, 39-47.

de Haymes, M. V., & Simon, S. (2003). Transracial adoption: Families identify Issues and needed support services.
Child Welfare,82
, 251-272.

Feigelman, W., & Silverman, A. (1984). The long-term effects of transracial adoption.
Social Service Review, 58,

Firth, S. (2014, January 1). Study: Infertile Couples 3 TImes More Likely to Divorce. Retrieved November 14, 2014, from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/01/31/study-infertile-couples-3-times-more-likely-


Galvin, K. (2009, November 13). International and Transracial Adoption: A Communication Research Agenda. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1207/S15327698JFC0304_5

Hayes, Mellonie S., "A Look at Black Ethnic Identity and Transracial Adoption: A Contextual Perspective" (2008). Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 4188.http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/etd/4188

Hoard, D. (Producer), & Hoard D. (Director). (1998). Struggle for identity: Issues of transracial adoption [Motion picture]. United States: PhotoSynthesis Productions.

Hollingsworth, L. (2012). Transracial adoptees in the media: 1986-1996.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 72
, 289-293.

Hollingsworth, L.D. (1997). Effect of transracial/transethnic adoption on children’s racial and ethnic identity and self-esteem: A meta-analytic review.
Marriage & Family Review, 25
, 99–130.

Independent Adoption Center; Siblings. Retrieved from http://www.adoptionhelp.org/training/transracial/5-siblings

International Adoption. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://adoptionsbygladney.com/adoption international?gclid=Cj0KEQiA1qajBRC_6MO49cqDxb

Lee, R. (2003). The transracial adoption paradox: history, research, and counseling implications of cultural socialization.
The Counseling Psychologist, 31
, 711-744.

Leigh, F. F., Vergara, V. B., & Santelices, M. P. (2013). Enhancing early attachment: Design and pilot study of an intervention for primary health care dyads.
Journal of Child Health Care, 17
, 82-91.

Lew, J. (n.d.). Burden of acting neither white nor black: Asian american identities and achievement in urban schools.
The Urban Review
, 335-352.

Medavoy, M. (Producer), & Jones, K. (Director). (2012).
What to expect when you're expecting
[Motion Picture]. United States: Lionsgate Films.

Morrison, A. (2004). Transracial adoption: The pros and cons and the parents’ perspective.
Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal, 20
, 164-202.

Mosher, W. (1982). Infertility Trends Among U.S. Couples: 1965-1976.
Family Planning Perspectives, 14
, 22-22.

Raible, J. (2008). Real brothers, real sisters: Learning from the white siblings of transracial adoptees.
Journal of Social Distress and Homeless, 17
, 91-103.

Randolph, B. (2013, October 12). Parental stress and how it impacts adjustment in adoption by Brooke Randolph, LMHC. Retrieved November 19, 2014.

Rosnati, R., & Marta, E. (1997). Parent–child relationships as a protective factor in preventing adolescents' psychosocial risk in inter-racial adoptive and non-adoptive families.
Journal of Adolescence, 20
, 617-631.

Sellers, R. M., Copeland-Linder, N., Martin, P. P., & Lewis, R. H. (2006). Racial identity matters: The relationship between racial discrimination and psychological functioning in African American adolescents.

of Research on Adolescence, 16
, 187-216.

Silveri, S. (Writer), & Halvorson, G. (Director). (2003). Tihe one with the fertility test [Television series episode]. In D. Crane (Producer),
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Singer, L. M., Brodzinsky, D. M., Ramsay, D., Steir, M., & Waters, E. (1985). Mother-infant attachment in adoptive families.
Child Development, 56,

Statistics. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 18, 2014, from http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/about-us/statistics.html

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They also stood up for their adopted siblings

Learned how to deal with insensitive comments from the extended family and society.

Learned to understand ‘White privilege’.

Able to educate other people on culturally appropriate and sensitive-adoption language.

“If it’s and offense against my brother and sister, it’s and offense against me”.

Independent Adoption Center
Relationship between siblings is the longest relationship in lives, so need to be nurture in a right way.

Adopting another child from the same ethnicity can provide support to the child that the parents are might not aware of.

They can share the coping mechanism in dealing with racism and bias.

A white children can be an important ally in their environment (school, community, workplace).

Carly and Cat
Carly and Max
Park Family
(C. Park, personal communication, November 18, 2014).

Positive Effects on the Couple
Gives them a sense of purpose.

Adds joy to their life.

They are able to love a child no matter the color.

Couple is exposed to multiple cultures instead of just their own.

Parents have More Options when Transracially Adopting
In the US, there are a higher percentage of ethnic minority kids in foster care systems than kids of the ethnic majority.
60% ethnic minority kids vs. 40% ethnic majority kids in the US foster home kids. (NIH)

International adoption is another option. There is a high demand in other countries.

Having options lessens the stress on the couple.

Adoption of Older Children
Specific culture and language already engrained

Difficultly communicating

Difficult for parents to help them adjust

Xiana story

(R. Scott, personal communication, November 18, 2014).
The quality of the transracial Parent-Child relationship is extremely important in the development of the child. It helps with:

Positive development of ethnic identity

Transmission of cultural values, beliefs, and practices

Development of self-esteem

Psychological well-being

Research found that in families who adopted transracially, communication between parent-child was consistently the same or, at times, even better than the communication in biological families.

A study by Burrow & Finley (2004) found that “transracially adopted males (more than females) report a higher level of perceived closeness with their mothers.”

Parent- Child Relationship
Research also shows that families with transracial adoption tend to have more open, positive, and ongoing talks/communication about topics such as:
Research shows that:
Invested and dedicated parents lead to positive parent-child relationships
Mutual exchange of culture, values, & beliefs leads to positive outcomes for children later in life

Conclusion on Parent-Child Relationship
In general, transracial parent-child relationships do not show significant differences compared to inracial adoption or biological families and are generally warm, positive, and healthy.

• Origins of transracial adoption:
• After WWII and later by Korean War, kids orphaned
• “ Many of these were altruistic adoptions, the aim of which was to provide permanent families to children whose parents died in these wars” (Hollingsworth 289)

• For the US:
• Adoptable children decreased:
• Artificial birth control
• More tolerant of unwed pregnancies
• Abortion legalized

• Risks for the children include development of:
• Psychosocial
• Emotional
• Cultural
• Data/ Research from Transracial Adoptees in the Media: 1986-1996
• (Print-media-reported interviews with adult transracial adoptees)
• Results:
• Problems with racial/ethnic identity in adolescence
• Caucasian parents limited in their ability for socialization for children of color
• Don’t develop a connectedness with larger ethnic/racial community

• Some slight racial slurs from community due to it being a small and rural
• Many thought the girls were Latinas instead of Chinese

• Stereotyped into being gymnasts
• Girls were at a camp put on through the high school while in elementary school
• Coach told parents that they needed to be on the team
• Had dreams about having an all-Asian team due to wanting to adopt an Asian child but could not due to being a single parent
Sibling Relationships

• Relationship with the girls are not very strong due to having a 9 and 7 year age difference between the girls
• Says relationship isn’t affected from the adoption
• Makes jokes about packing them back up and sending them back
• Normal sibling rivalries
• Mother has better relationship with the girls
• Father treats them all equal

Affected Her Life
• Took a Mandarin language class
• No one in their house uses it
• Convention in Indy her family goes to for kids adopted in China
• Cultural experience
• Live performances, clothes, and make connections with other families
• Went with her parents to China for first adoption:
• Blonde hair, which everyone was obsessed with because at the time no one had it
• Absolutely terrified her
• Everyone asking to cut it
• Staring at her
• Following them around to take pictures
• Her parents didn’t take her the second time due to everything that happened

"The older I get, the more I realize I can’t avoid being Korean. Every time I look into the mirror, I am Korean. When I look at family pictures, I feel that I stand out. I guess it shouldn’t bother me, but sometimes it does. Even though I may seem very American ...I want to be distinctly Korean. I know I’m not in terms of having all the Korean traditions, but I don’t want people to see me and say, “Because she grew up in a Caucasian family, and because she is very Americanized, she’s white.” That’s not what I want anymore."

-Janine Bishop (Lee, 2003)
Issue of Attachment:
Attachment refers to an enduring emotional tie between a caregiver and an infant (Leigh, Vergara, & Santelices, 2013).

Secure attachment to one’s caregiver is essential for psychological well-being and adjustment both as an infant and throughout childhood (Singer, Brodzinsky, Ramsay, Steir, & Waters, 1985).

Transracial adoption produced a higher occurrence of insecure attachments between interracial adoptive mothers and their infants.
In fact, study found that twice as many intraracial adoptees were securely attached as interracial adoptees (Singer et al., 1985).
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