Over the years, the selection metrics used by a potential adoptive family have significantly changed. Previously, children were selected based solely on their skin color and the religion of the adoptive family. Later, children from many other cultural backgrounds such as Asian Americans or African Americans or Native American heritage came to be adopted by families outside their cultural boundaries. What are the major issues with interracial adoptions?
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The trends in the selection of children for adoption have changed over time. The shift to interracial adoption probably stems from the Civil Rights movement in the US. This went on for some time before black people started thinking deeply on the issue. Problems arise when some blacks decided that they were against the adoption of their children into interracial adoptive families or families that were not black. They organized themselves to let the world know of the harm that could be done to their black heritage.
There was the question of loss of self-esteem, loss of racial identity, fear of children losing confidence and not becoming attached to the adoptive parents, as they should. Soon activists began to discuss and speak about the issues.
The legislation was instituted to control the adoptions and ensure that children were going into proper homes that did not harm their attitude or disturb their sense of identity and self-esteem. The Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act was passed in 1994 and the Adoption and Safe Family’s Act of 1997 for the regularization of adoption. The latter law is aimed at reducing the instability and abuse accompanying interracial adoption.
Same race adoption has been recommended by some researchers. Others have claimed that this unnecessary restriction has caused many children to be denied their right to adoptive care through interracial adoption at least. Six issues have been identified which prevent adoption based on if it is going to be a same-race adoption but promotes interracial adoption.
Policies of adoption by foster parents, availability of same race families, sufficient children who need adoption, disparities in policies of child welfare services, incorrect numbers of black children in foster care and poverty have been discussed as problems surrounding same race adoption. The recent understanding of the interracial adoption has incorporated similar policies and views of various organizations committed to the social work of mixed adoptions (Adoption, 2009).
The racial barrier is not a hindrance for adopting children in many families. A very important success factor is that the bond between the members of the family – including the newly adopted additions – needs to be well developed (Amy, 2003, para 3). Interracial families have problems that are inevitable in a community with diverse interests. The challenges that the parents encounter are enumerated (Interracial families, 2009, para 4).
The family would face the same reaction from the rest of the community, as would a minority family in normal cases. The various sectors of society could subject them to odd remarks and comments. Black children could be scorned. Occasionally the parents find themselves embarrassingly guilty of racism (Interracial families, 2009, para 4). This would further harm the adopted children.
Today’s laws mandate the attempt to find racial matches for children who are minorities within 90 days of application before being moved into an interracial family (Anonymous, 2009). Personal experiences add to the richness of the arguments. The complexity of the problem is obvious. Psychological issues are to be expected in a society that does not understand the issues fully. The parents and adopted children must be educated to withstand each issue and to react positively to all the potential challenges they will face (Interracial families, 2009).
There is a greater chance for black children being adopted than white from foster care. An attempt may be made to place white children in black families and vice versa. Very little emphasis is put on the good lives of these children and families except that seventy-seven percent of the children are happy and socially adjusted (McManus, n.d.).
However, blacks were not generally amenable to this idea of interracial adoption. Their associations refused to accept interracial adoption after elaborating on the harmful effects it could have in the future.
Their protest is that racial adoption may affect the black children by destroying their racial identity making it difficult to survive with their peers after coming out of their adoption. Legislation oversees that these types of problems are minimized. In spite of the innumerable discussions, the issues are still very much alive: solutions are in the distance and attempts have not come any closer to totally “stamp the fire out” (McManus, n.d.).
The loosing of the black racial identity, when adopted by a white family, is also discussed by Hilborn (2009). The difficulty is perceived to express itself later in life, where the adopted children find themselves in some deep levels of conflicting conditions. Once they grow into full adults who can understand themselves better and the environment around them, they suddenly begin to question how they ended up being in that particular situation.
The worst part of all this is that they never get the best answers and so they end up hating what they decipher. However, there are steps being taken internationally to ensure that adopted kids continually understand the dangers of being adopted. Social workers have appeared and expressed their opinions about interracial adoption.
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Arguments for and against interracial adoption have been addressed. The ban on the adoption of native children by non-native parents in Canada has made things clear in that country at least. One argument that favors interracial adoption is that the adopted children may be taught their own culture (Hilborn, 2009).
Adoptive parents harbor thoughts with different angles when deciding to adopt. For some, culture and race may be important aspects. Others may just want someone to care for and do not look at details like race. They take any child who is up for adoption. However experts also have a diverse opinion; some believe that the adopted child must be the same race as one of the parents at least, while others say that it does not matter at all (Adoptiononline, 2009).
Whatever the opinions, adoptive parents of interracial adoption must be prepared for the new child and the possible problems that could arise. The family unit must be close to each other and the adoption should not be a ground for dispute among them. (Adoptiononline, 2009). Adoption serves two groups of parents. One group does not have children and wishes to adopt while the other group has children but is unable to care for them for various reasons.
Child Welfare Agencies control the process of adoption. The impact of religion, effects of age and race, foster care, interracial adoptions, adoption of Mexican American children, promotion of same race adoption, drawbacks of adopting Mexican American children, promotion of same race adoption and effects of interracial adoption on the child’s identity and self-esteem (Adoption, 2009).
Four possible outcomes could result from non-Mexican American parents adopting Mexican American children, for instance. Ethnic identity conflict, forgetting the Latino background, limited participation in Latino cultural activities, and inadequate skills to handle racism have formed the basic questions these children were asked in a study. They mostly answered in agreement. More research needs to be done (Bausch et al., 1997 cited in Adoption, 2009).
Social workers have many services for adoption and post-adoption processes. The suitability of the homes of adoptive families is determined by them. The needs of the children are assessed for different factors and then matched with a suitable home. The parents of the children who are given for adoption are evaluated as to whether they can continue parenting or involvement in their children’s lives. Changes in placement and post-adoption services are performed by social workers (Adoption, 2009).
Hollingsworth (1997 as cited in Adoption, 2009) has also performed a meta-analysis of 6 studies to determine the effects of adoption in Mexican American and African American children who were adopted by same race parents and interracial parents. Interracial adoption was found to be negatively received.
However, it was difficult to get homogeneity in the studies selected, and so results may not be so reliable. For example, a telephone survey indicated that 71 % of the people interviewed believed that race should not be a consideration for adoption.
The older generation above 64 years of age was most unlikely to condone interracial adoption (Hollingsworth, 2000 as cited in Adoption online, 2009). Among the African American race, the women were 84 % less prone to approve of interracial adoption than the men were. The Caucasian men were less likely to approve.
Interracial adoptive parents need to be given specialized training by public and private agencies for adoption (Vonk and Angaran, 2003 as cited in Adoption, 2009). Research has indicated that this training is highly relevant and equips the children in survival skills in multi-cultural societies. Racial disparity is further studied by Brooks and James (2003 as cited in Adoption, 2009).
Parents who are willing to adopt black children have different attitudes when compared to those who do not wish to adopt them. This factor has influenced Child Welfare policies and Recruitment of Adoptive Families.
The controversy around these adoptions has one of its fundamental reasons underlying in the factors of the much-divided opinion. In a national Adoption Attitudes survey where questions were asked about African American children being adopted by American families, which is the most common interracial adoption in the United States; a good number of responses were astounding in implication. Majority of the respondents were of the feeling that there is too much opposition to interracial adoption.
The general analyzed outcome seemed to indicate that approximately 47% of whites and an estimated 61% of African Americans will not encourage such type of adoptions and would instead oppose them in the strongest sense of the matter. The controversy becomes even more confusing when one considers the understanding that the levels of suffering in some of these adoptable races are increasing almost exponentially.
It is difficult to draw a line on whether general feelings and attitudes should guide the whole system of adoption or the situation that calls for these adoptions (Shireman, 2003, p.137). The most vivid understanding is that a child is adopted due to circumstances of poverty, which draw the deepest of sympathy from the potential adopters. These happen to the whites, at least in the majority of the cases.
However, there is the other school of thought which feels that majority of those who come out to adopt these disadvantaged children are not moved by the circumstances but rather by the urge to have the children in their possession.
The feeling becomes nastier when it is taken to the level of thinking that most of the adopted children are never given the kind of environment that is expected at best for real child development. It is therefore highly felt that the children undergo all manner of stress trying to cope up with a culture that is so dynamic; whereas their believes and cultures are all traceable on their birth roots.
There is a big argument about assimilation, which is generally the steady erosion or elimination of the fundamental cultural values and standards of the adopted child. This takes shape as he or she tries to grapple with the confusion of the two different cultures that form the ultimate exposure for the rest of the new life. Consider several children adopted from a black family at a very early age. They will never get a chance whatsoever even to recognize that their origin and the overall personal identity is “full of confusion all through life”.
Contrastingly, a 1993 research indicated that interracial adoption still stood out as an appropriate option for the provision of decent homes and lifestyle with approximately 75 percent of adopted children being able to adjust effectively to their new homes (Silverman, 1993, p.104-117). In 1995, another study found out that adoption was indeed not detrimental especially in the line of the terms of opposing arguments like esteem & confidence, excellence in academics plus general relationships.
Before this, the U.S. Congress did pass the Multiethnic placement act whose major purpose in outline was the prohibition of any agency that is federally funded from the denial of placement to a kid out of sheer race or origin based on nationality. It directed categorically that toleration of discrimination shall never be applicable (Hollinger, 1998).
There are several examples of countries that have banned various forms of this kind of adoption in the most of challenging circumstances, making it difficult for genuine adoption cases to be affected by willing families from both ends. For example, a group of native leaders in Canada banned any act of adoption that involves the adoption of native children by parents of non-native orientation. This translates to longer periods in foster care because there are fewer cases of children from native families that will end up being adopted.
But on the other hand, some customs have successfully gone around this scenario to make it possible for non-natives to adopt native children through what is known as custom adoption ceremonies. They accord considerable affirmation to traditional values and practices (Spalding, 2006).
In conclusion, the opposing views bring together the different problems and aspects of interracial adoption. Heated debates flame out at intervals from smoldering embers in different parts of the world. Interracial adoption continues to be controversial today especially with racial discrimination being a parallel hot subject.
Reliable studies speak about adoption procedures, experiences of adoptive parents, experiences of adopted children, experiences of social workers in interracial adoption and the like. The advice of experts in the field of approval would be very helpful for the people who prepare for interracial adoption, and those who have already adopted and are in the post-adoption period. This will also assist those willing to adopt.
Adoption (2009). NASW: National Association of Social Workers. Web.
Adoptiononline (2009). Transracial and transcultural adoption, Education Center. Web.
Anonymous (2009). Interracial families – Transracial, transcultural adoption. Web.
Hilborn, R. (2009). Transracial adoption. Family Helper: Adoption Resource Central. Web.
Hollinger, J. H. (1998). A guide to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by the Interethnic Provisions of 1996. Washington: American Bar Association, 1998.
McManus, M. Issues in transracial adoption. Web.
Amy, R. (2003). How to create family bonding with interracial adoption. E How: How to do Just about Everything. Web.
Shireman (2003) Critical issues in child welfare. New York: Columbia University Press.
Silverman, A. R. (1993). Outcomes of transracial adoption. The Future of Children, 3(1), 104-118.
Spalding, D. (2006) Roots, Wings and Other Things: A Mothers True Story of Transracial Adoptions. Ontario: Rain Publishing, 2006.