Home > Free Essays > Family, Life & Experiences > Parenting > Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child
Cite this

Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child Research Paper


Abstract

The main aim of this study is to explore the effects of interracial adoption on the adopted children. Some people view interracial adoption as the only remedy for the persistent though diminishing racial/ethnic discrimination. Interracial adoption occurs both domestically or internationally. The study focuses on how it affects the transracial adopted child psychologically and socially.

Psychological and racial/ethnic identity research studies on trans-racial adopted children have revealed that the transracial adopted children, are well adjusted psychologically, shows different racial/ethnic identity development, engage in enculturation and socialization practices to overcome challenges related to trans-racial adoption.

Introduction

Robert Dale Morrison suggested that the swiftest remedy for racial discrimination is trans-racial adoption. In this way, people will learn to love children and cared for them regardless of their skin color (Ifekwunigwe, 2004, p.3). Throughout the history of trans-racial adoption, the most heated debate has surrounded the adoption of black children by white parents.

Few black parents have adopted white children since majority of the children up for adoptions are black. Some experts in sociology argue that this scenario also occurs because some social workers resist the idea of black parents adopting white children. Adoption between the whites and other races also do take place but with little controversy (Lee, 2003, p.15-16).

In US, trans-racial adoption began after the 2nd world war when thousands of children looked for homes. The first black child adopted by a white parent took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the year 1948. Until 1950s, trans-racial adoption was something that was unknown in the American society and the policies of the country discouraged this kind of adoption.

The retrogressive policies were justified on the ground that matching the same race enhances chances of good parenting. Therefore, adoption of Native American children was prevalent in that period than other races (Barbell & Freundlich, 2001, p. 33).

In the 60s, section of the American society became more concerned with the idea of trans-racial adoption. Civil right movement attracted the attention of the media on the predicaments of the minority foster children.

Trans-racial adoption gain momentum in this period since majority of the children from the minority groups needed homes while the number of white parents looking for children to adopt exceeded the number of the white children available. In the late 60s, over 700 black children were adopted by white parents (Quiroz, 2007, p. 2).

This trend continued successfully until 1972 when National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) publicly declared their position against trans-racial adoption. They posited that black children should only be adopted by black parents; this is because it is the only way the will feel sense of belonging and develop a sound projection of their future life (Kreider, 2003, p3-4; Patton, 2000, p. 6).

The main purpose of this study is exploring the psychological and social questions raised by the inter-racial adoption paradox: What are the psychological effects of growing up in an inter-racial adoptive home?

How the unique experience of growing up among people with different color affects adopted child’s development. Last but not the least; do the child’s efforts to overcome the racial and ethnic differences correlates with psychological adaptation?

Cases of trans-racial adoption within the national border

One of the earliest instances of deliberate trans-racial adoption was the Indian Adoption Project. This project was undertaken in partnership between Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Child Welfare League of America.

The project was aimed at rehabilitating street children and finding them families in order to assimilate into the normal society (Lee, 2003, p.15-16). In the 60s, a child advocacy group in Canada and US started a program that aimed at finding foster families for the orphaned children in America particularly the African-American children.

These welfare groups later encountered a lot of resistance from the racial/ethnic minority communities. For instance, National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) resisted the idea of the black children being adopted by the white parents.

The argued that inter-racial adoption was a racial/ cultural genocide, thus passed a resolution in 1972 to put an end to the adoption of African-American children by the whites. Opposition by NABSW had a ripple effect in India which eventually led to the suspension of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (Simon & Altstein, 2000, p. 3-4).

A study carried out in 2005 shows that there is still a mix feeling amongst the Americans over the inter-racial adoption (Samuels, 2006, p.15). An opinion poll carried out by CBS News established that majority of the black women and white men did not support trans-racial adoption of the African American children (over 70%).

This means only black men and white women were the only group which relatively supported inter-racial adoption (Samuels, 2006, p.15).

International trans-racial adoption

International trans-racial adoption mainly reflects the socio-political factors all over the world. These factors include civil wars, poverty, and lack of social welfare, political upheavals, and natural calamities in different countries in the world. Social and political factors contribute to the availability of children up for adoption overseas.

For instance, thousands of poverty stricken children from African countries like Somalia and Southern Sudan have been adopted by US and European citizens. Even though American society is still predominantly white, it has adopted majority of non whites from different countries globally than any other nation.

The highest rate of international trans-racial children adopted in US originates from the Asian countries (Samuels, 2006, p.15; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450). Therefore, international adoptions account for the largest share of trans-racial adoptions particularly from the racial/ethnic minority communities (Simon & Altstein, 2000, p. 3-4).

International trans-racial adoption has more controversy than the domestic trans-racial adoption. Psychological experts posit that international adoptees have more health and behavioral problems than the domestic children.

There are also concerns related to baby selling, modern day slavery/ forced labor, kidnappings, therefore many countries have limited international adoptions, and this has also forced the US government to ban adoption from certain countries (Lee, 2003, p.15-16).

Human right activists from the poor countries related trans-racial adoption by the citizens of the developed nations as modern day colonialism and show of cultural supremacy thus treats children as economic goods.

These protests and concerns from the third world nations led to the setting up of the international laws for adoption such as federal legislative policies and International Convention on Protection and Cooperation in Respect of International adoption. These rules were meant to standardize international adoption (Ifekwunigwe, 2004, p.3).

Research Studies on Trans-Racial Adoption

Initial experimental studies on trans-racial adoption started as a response to socio-political controversies surrounding inter-racial adoptions in the late 60s and 70s. Later on, the research grown and expanded to include international trans-racial children as the rate of domestic adoption reduced while international adoption swelled (Fanshel, 1972, p.2).

In the early 90s, numerous comprehensive reviews were published to summarize the earlier studies. These reviews also criticized earlier researches on both domestic trans-racial adoption and international trans-racial adoption particularly in US and Great Britain (Ittig, 2003, p.5; Hjern, Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.446).

The contemporary reviews on trans-racial adoption focus on experimental studies in the 90s and application of psychology and sociology to explain different challenges faced by trans-racial children in their foster homes (Barbell & Freundlich, 2001, p.1-2). These studies initially used computer soft wares evaluating psychological information through a number of variables.

The search variables included all types of trans-racial adoption, inter-country adoptions, and racial/ethnic minority groups. Other studies were carried out based on the results of the computer soft wares and through adoption related online information (Barbell & Freundlich, 2001, p.3; Zamostny et al., 2003, p. 658).

Almost all the contemporary study reviews on trans-racial adoption can be categorized as descriptive studies on either the psychological results or racial/ethnic identity development of the adopted trans-racial children.

Most psychological studies focus on the psychological challenges and adjustments of the trans-racial adopted children without directly considering their racial/ ethnic experiences. Other recent studies have tried to integrate these two types of to form experimental research studies on cultural socialization (Lee, 2003, p.15-16; Baden, 2002, p.170; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450).

Psychological research studies on trans-racial adoption

Most psychological studies involving trans-racial adopted children compare trans-racial adopted children with the same race adoptees or non-adopted children on measures of psychological challenges and adjustments.

The main assumption of these research studies is that trans-racial adoption challenges are not are not a problem for the trans-racial adopted children if there are no considerable group differences on psychological adjustments (Zamostny et al., 2003, p. 658; Ittig, 2003, p.6; Baden, 2002, p.170 ).

A cross-sectional study on domestic and international trans-racial adoption established that trans-racial adoption in its self does not automatically exposes a child to higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems.

This study found out that over 70% of the trans-racial adopted children had little emotional and behavioral problems, a rate which was the same as non adopted children or same race adopted children (Lindblad, Hjern, & Vinnerljung, 2003, p.191; Vonk, & Angaran, 2001, p.5).

Studies have also found out that trans-racial adopted children did not differ noticeably from the normal children (non adoptees or same race adopted children) in their degree of self esteem or social adjustments (Steinberg & Hall 2000, p. 26).

In cases where the trans-racial adopted children had serious emotional and behavioral problems , the number was too small and these was influenced by country of origin, age of adoption, gender ( male children are at high risk), adverse experiences before adoption, and the experiences in the adoptive family (Steinberg & Hall, 2000, p.7; Steinberg & Hall 2000, p. 27).

However, one of the limitations of the psychological studies of trans-racial adoption is the fact that they have failed to directly determine the racial/ethnic experiences of the trans-racial adopted children and their probable contribution to the psychological adjustment.

A study conducted in Sweden also found out that many adopted trans-racial children did not have serious psychological problems and social maladjustment difficulties (Hjern, Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, 444).

However, trans-racial adopted children had high affinity to psychological and behavioral problems (203 times higher) than the normal population, but the domestic adoptees were not much likely to have these problems than the international adoptees.

This implies racial discrimination plays a major role in the overall psychological and social adjustment of the trans-racial adopted children. However, this finding can not be generalized to the US, which is a racial heterogeneous country than Sweden (Hjern, Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, 445).

Racial/ethnic Identity studies on trans-racial adoption

Racial/ethnic identity research studies characteristically examine the level to which trans-racial adopted children use racial/ethnic self identity and how proud they are of their ethnicity/race.

The main assumption of these studies is that the manner in which the adopted children settle the trans-racial paradox is excellently corroborated in their racial or ethnic identity development and that trans-racial adopted children with affirmative and secure identities will psychologically adjust successfully in their new environment (Ifekwunigwe, 2004, p.3).

Regrettably, reviews of these studies have revealed that actual relationship between the racial/ethnic experiences of the trans-racial adopted children and their psychological adjustments have not been well covered in these studies (Ittig, 2003, p.5; Hjern, Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, 446). Besides, none of these research studies applied reliable and legitimate measures of racial/ethnic identity.

Alternatively, these studies relied on the projective measures of racial inclination, informal self report items, open questions, and parental reports. As a result of these limitations, these research reviews postulated that trans-racial adopted children demonstrates a high level of variability in their ethnic/racial identity (Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, 446).

Ittig (2003) for instance, carried out a meta-analysis on a six cross-sectional and longitudinal variables relating the trans-racial adopted child and normal children (non adopted children and same race adopted children. Ethnic/ racial identity indices were measured in numerous ways for instance 20-stament test, T-tests and Clark Doll Study.

This study found out that trans-racial adopted children relatively lower ethnic/ racial identity than the normal children (Ittig, 20003, p.15). This study corresponds with other research findings that established that domestic and international trans-racial adopted children were greatly absorbed in the majority culture (Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, 447).

Some studies on the same subject presents divergent results regarding the racial/ethnic identity development. To demonstrate this point, Vonk, (2001) found that most African American and Asian trans-racial adopted teenagers had strong and secure racial identities, but at the same time most of them felt discomfort over their skin color (Vonk, 2001, p.248).

Correspondingly, Baden, (2002) survey established that nearly half of the trans-racial adopted children on his sample felt very proud of their racial/ethnic identity, a quarter of the sample wished they were of a different race, and very few of them were ashamed/ embarrassed of their racial/ethnic identity (Baden, 2002, p. 167).

Other studies established that the difference in racial/ethnic identity development for the trans-racial adopted children may be as a result of extraneous factors such as age, race and the location. Children adopted at older ages were strongly inclined to their race/ethnic background as compared ton those adopted while still at the infant stage.

The study also found out that Hispanic and the African Americans were more proud and comfortable of their racial/ethnic identity than Asian counterparts. Racial/ ethnic identity amongst the trans-racial adoptees tends to be weaker amongst those living in societies which are racially homogenous (Quiroz, 2007, p.35).

Research studies on racial/ethnic identity development of trans-racial adopted children also found out that this depends on the social and psychological development of these children. Children adopted at younger age tend to identify themselves with their birth culture.

As the child grows, this sense of identity disappears or becomes further ambivalent. For some trans-racial adoptees, race and ethnicity becomes more prominent as they get into adulthood (Ifekwunigwe, 2004, p. 10).

Cultural socialization studies on trans-racial adoption

Cultural socialization studies on the trans-racial adoption emphasized on the experiences of the adoptees in their new homes that enhanced or thwarted their racial/ethnic identity development. These studies also examined the relationship between the experiences of these adoptees and their psychological adjustment (Vonk & Angaran, 2001, p.6; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450).

The main assumptions in these studies are that healthy psychological development is greatly dependent on the constructive racial/ethnic experiences.

Cultural socialization studies on the trans-racial adoption acts as a bridge between psychological studies and racial/ ethnic identity studies on the trans-racial adoptees and provides more suitable methodology to scrutinize how trans-racial adoptees overcome the psychological and cultural problems related to trans-racial adoption (Vonk & Angaran, 2001, p.6).

Zamostny et al., (2003) established that negative racial/ethnic experiences resulting from perceived prejudice and ambivalence were the main cause of behavioral and emotional problems amongst the trans-racial adopted children. These experiences include but not limited to the family functioning, family structures and support from the friends.

Racial discrimination is the highest contributor to the psychological and social problems experienced by trans-racial adopted children both from the domestic or international domain. Therefore, negative racial and ethnic experience has very severe psychological effects on the adopted trans-racial children (Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450).

There are numerous experimental evidences that prove that positive racial and ethnic experience plays an important role to the psychological and social adjustment of the trans-racial adoptees (Vonk & Angaran, 2001, p.7-8; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.449).

For instance, a study conducted in the US found that racial/ethnic identity measured by ethnic pride, was positively correlated to the psychological adjustment of the African American and Asian adoptees in the US.

The study identified that the trans-racial adopted children, whose foster parents actively supported their culture, had more affirmative racial/ethnic identity development, resulting to improved psychological adjustment. Effects of racial experience are above and beyond the family where the child lives (Vonk & Angaran, 2001, p.7; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450; Simon & Altstein, 2000, p. 3-4).

A study carried out in US on the African American trans-racial adopted children, established that majority of the white parents who adopted these children were ready to embrace biculturalism in the upbringing of these children at their early ages, but they were likely to discourage it as the child reaches adolescence stage.

The same study also found out that African American adopted children whose parents promoted their culture (African American heritage), had more affirmative racial/ethnic identity and in turn led to positive psychological and social adjustment (Ifekwunigwe, 2004, p.4; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.452).

Ways to overcome trans-racial adoption challenges

One of the way through which a child can overcome challenges associated with trans-racial adoption is through cultural socialization. Even though this process takes a considerable long time, it helps trans-racial children to have greater adaptation and competence to survive in different cultural environment.

For children from the minority groups, cultural socialization equips them with survival strategies to deal with any form of racial or ethnic prejudice and encourage them to embrace positive attitude/behaviors and appropriate participation in the societal affairs(Vonk & Angaran, 2001, p.10; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.450-451).

However, the process of cultural socialization for the trans-racial adoptive families tends to be very complicated given the apparent and unassailable racial/ethnic differences which form the basis of inter-racial adoption paradox. White parents are very unlikely to teach their adopted trans-racial children about the culture and practices of the minority communities.

Given the above differences, the traditional approaches to cultural socialization have undergone modification to only take into account unique dynamics among different races and ethnic groups (Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.454-455).

Earlier studies showed that most adoptive parents played down the differences among races and ethnic groups. This type of parents engaged in what we call deliberate acculturation/assimilation.

This occurred with minimal efforts since these trans-racial adopted children from the minority communities were only exposed to the majority culture. Acculturation; /assimilation emphasized on the ‘color blind’ society without taking into consideration racial/ethnic references.

The end product of assimilation/acculturation were trans-racial adopted children who were inflexible and only identified with their adopted parents cultural view of the world. They totally ignored their ethnic culture. This is very much discouraged in our modern society as it is the cause of racial/ethnic prejudice (Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.455).

The world today promotes enculturation as the only way to fight racial/ethnic discrimination. Parents, who have adopted children from different races particular the minority groups, nowadays acknowledge the cultural differences among races and promote enculturation of their children. They even make more efforts to teach their children about their cultural backgrounds and encourage socialization.

These has given these kids more pride in their racial/ethnic identity and encouraged them to participate more in the racially integrated society. Therefore, cultural socialization is the only way that can help minimize or eliminate racial/ethic discrimination which is a major contributor to the psychological and social problems of trans-racial adopted children. (Quiroz, 2007, p. 3-4; Lindblad & Vinnerljung, 2002, p.455).

Conclusion

The main objective of this research paper was to address some of the psychological and behavioral questions related to trans-racial adoption paradox: What are the psychological and social effects of trans-racial children growing up in a trans-racial adoptive family? And how does this affects their social identity?

Psychological and racial/ethnic identity research studies on trans-racial adopted children have revealed that these children, adopted domestically or internationally, are well adjusted psychologically, shows different racial/ethnic identity development, engage in enculturation and socialization practices to overcome challenges related to trans-racial adoption.

These studies have also revealed that most trans-racial adopted children exhibit normal characteristics similarly to the non adopted and same-race adopted counterparts, and that psychological and social problems are as a result of external factors. The most striking contributor of these psychological and behavioral problems is racial/.ethnic discrimination within their surrounding.

Other external factors that causes these problems include the country of origin, age of adoption, gender (male children are at high risk), adverse experiences before adoption, and the experiences in the adoptive family. Positive racial and ethnic experience also plays an important role to the psychological and social adjustment of the trans-racial adoptees.

The psychological research studies of the transracial adopted children established that trans-racial adoption challenges are not are not a problem for the trans-racial adopted children if there are no considerable group differences on psychological adjustments.

While the ethnic identity studies on the transracial adopted children found out that the manner in which the adopted children settle the trans-racial paradox is excellently corroborated in their racial or ethnic identity development and that trans-racial adopted children with affirmative and secure identities will psychologically adjust successfully in their new environment.

On the other hand, Cultural socialization studies have found out that healthy psychological development is greatly dependent on the constructive racial/ethnic experiences.

Cultural socialization studies on the trans-racial adoption acts as a bridge between psychological studies and racial/ ethnic identity studies on the trans-racial adoptees and provides more suitable methodology to scrutinize how trans-racial adoptees overcome the psychological and cultural problems related to trans-racial adoption.

In a nut shell, trans-racial adoption does not severely affects the psychological and behavioral well being of trans-racial adopted children, but the external factors which are beyond the foster parents’ control. This can only be averted through enculturation and socialization. This will not only help these children to have positive racial/ethnic identity, but also to make necessary psychological adjustments.

The world today promotes enculturation as the only way to fight racial/ethnic discrimination. Parents, who have adopted children from different races particular the minority groups, nowadays acknowledge the cultural differences among races and promote enculturation of their children. They even make more efforts to teach their children about their cultural backgrounds and encourage socialization.

These has given these kids more pride in their racial/ethnic identity and encouraged them to participate more in the racially integrated society. Therefore, cultural socialization is the only way that can help minimize or eliminate racial/ethic discrimination which is a major contributor to the psychological and social problems of trans-racial adopted children.

References

Barbell, K. & Freundlich, M. (2001). Foster care today. Washington, D.C: Casey Family Programs.

Baden, A.L. (2002). The psychological adjustment of transracial adoptees: An application of the Cultural-Racial Identity Model. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 11,167–192.

Fanshel, D. (1972). Far from the reservation: The transracial adoption of American Indian children. Metuchen. New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press.

Hjern, A., Lindblad F., & Vinnerljung, B. (2002). Suicide, psychiatric illness, and social maladjustment in inter-country adoptees in Sweden: A cohort study. The Lancet, 360, 443–448.

Ifekwunigwe, J. O. (2004). Mixed race studies: A reader. New York: Routledge.

Ittig, M. (2003). A family impact analysis on transracial adoption. (Family Impact Analysis Series). Madison, WI: Policy Institute for Family Impact Seminars.

Kreider, R. M. (2003). Adopted children and stepchildren: 2000. Census 2000 special reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce. Web.

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

Lindblad, F., Hjern, A., & Vinnerljung, B. (2003). Inter-country adopted children as young adults—A Swedish cohort study. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 73, 190–202

Patton, S. (2000). Birth marks: Transracial adoption in contemporary America. New York: New York University Press.

Quiroz, P. A. (2007). Adoption in a color-blind society. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield.

Samuels, G. M. (2006). Beyond the rainbow: Multiracialism in the 21st century. In D. Engstrom & L. Piedra (Eds.), our diverse society: Race, ethnicity and class—Implications for 21st century America. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Simon, R.J., & Altstein, H. (2000). Adoption across borders: Serving the children in transracial and inter-country adoptions. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Steinberg, G., & Hall, B. (2000). Inside transracial adoption. Indianapolis: Perspectives Press.

Vonk, M.E. (2001). Cultural competence for transracial adoptive parents. Social Work, 46, 246–255.

Vonk, M.E. & Angaran, R. (2001). A pilot study of training adoptive parents for cultural competence. Adoption Quarterly, 4, 5–18.

Zamostny, K.P., O’Brien, K.M., Baden, A.L., & O’Leary, W. M. (2003). The practice of adoption: History, trends, a social context perspective for counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(6), 651–678.

This research paper on Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

GET WRITING HELP
Cite This paper

Select a website referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, May 22). Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/transracial-adoption-and-how-it-affects-the-adopted-child-research-paper/

Work Cited

"Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child." IvyPanda, 22 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/transracial-adoption-and-how-it-affects-the-adopted-child-research-paper/.

1. IvyPanda. "Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child." May 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/transracial-adoption-and-how-it-affects-the-adopted-child-research-paper/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child." May 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/transracial-adoption-and-how-it-affects-the-adopted-child-research-paper/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child." May 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/transracial-adoption-and-how-it-affects-the-adopted-child-research-paper/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Transracial adoption and how it affects the adopted child'. 22 May.

Related papers