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RELG 2501 Final Presentation: Transracial Adoption

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Heather Hicks

on 13 December 2013

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Transcript of RELG 2501 Final Presentation: Transracial Adoption

Transracial Adoption in the United States
In the United States, adoption across racial and cultural groups has been practiced for over 50 years
Domestic adoption of black children by white parents began as early as 1939 and peaked in numbers in the 1970s
International transracial adoption began at the end of World War II and has grown steadily since that time
Approximately 80% to 85% of international adoptions are transracial
The History of Transracial Adoption
International transracial adoption intersects in complex ways with America’s imperialist and gendered racial cold war in Asia
Many have at least one living birth parent, but are declared “visa” or “social orphans" in order to make them legally available for adoption
The disparate conditions that make it difficult or unlikely for racialized birth mothers to keep or parent their children produce a social death for such mothers and for their families and communities
The very existence of transracial adoption brings up disturbing questions of "supply" and "demand".
International Transracial Adoption
Some studies suggest that adoptees who have not learned to cope with prejudice and discrimination are unable to manage racism in a way that preserves their self-esteem and positive racial identity
White families are ill-equipped to help black children develop a ‘positive black identity’
Since white parents do not experience racial minority status, their children will be psychologically defenseless, incapable of understanding and dealing with the racism that exists in our society
Criticisms of Transracial Adoption
focus on minimizing differences among family members
encourage development of the child's sense of belonging in the family
promote the child's assimilation into the dominant culture
The History of Transracial Adoption
Younger ethnic minority children are most likely to be transracially adopted, with the overwhelming majority occurring prior to the onset of ethnic identity development
Studies have shown that transracial adoptees are not as familiar with their own culture as children placed in single race adoptions
This interferes with their ability to develop and maintain relationships with peers of the same race and ethnicity
Concerns About Racial and Ethnic Identity
Many studies indicate that the majority of transracial adoptees adjust well in their adoptive homes and develop positive black identities without racial identity confusion
While transracial adoptees are slightly slower to develop racial awareness, they do eventually develop secure ethnic identities
Socioeconomic class also has a tremendous impact on how parents socialize their children, not just race
Studies suggest that as many as 78% of Korean TRIAs reported thinking they were white or wanting to be white as children
The majority of them were compelled to heighten their racial/ethnic awareness and shift their identification to fit their Asian heritage
Older transracial international adoptees are often motivated to bridge the gap between their expected and their lived cultures
Acculturative stress disorder can occur when they attempt to negotiate two cultures and adapt to the cultural changes required of them to fit into the new environment
International Transracial Adoption
African American adolescents placed in TRAs show a greater preference for white culture than black culture
They are potentially subject to the psychologically damaging impact of not fully belonging to either white or black worlds
Confusion over ethnic identity has been associated with behavior problems and psychological distress
Concerns About Transracial Adoption
The number of foster children being placed in TRAs has increased since 1994
This is likely to continue because of:
National Transracial Adoption
In this interview, Deann Borshay Liem talks about the documentary First Person Plural and her life as an international transracial adoptee
First Person Plural
At first, parents were advised to:
However, as TRA children grew into adolescents and adults, concerns related to their racial and ethnic identity development began to emerge
Proponents of Transracial Adoption
the disparate treatment of ethnic minority families in the foster care system
the racial composition of potential adoptive parents
the specific preferences of these parents
African American children being more likely than other racial or ethnic groups to be referred to protective services
Transracial adoption is a very complex issue for which there are no easy answers
Ethnic and racial identity is a serious concern that should not be taken lightly
We must ask ourselves about the ethics involved with both national and international transracial adoption
We must also ask ourselves why ethnic minorities are so disproportionately represented in the foster care system
A focus should be put on changing society and policies so that transracial adoption becomes less necessary
Heather Hicks
RELG 2501
Final Project
Full transcript