Is Transracial Adoption Bad for Kids?
Here we go again. A recent article, Is the modern-day adoption process colorblind?, brings up the argument that seems to never die–Is transracial adoption bad for kids.
Although overall adoptions increased 78 percent from 1996 to 2000, there are many who continue to question whether placing minority children with racially and ethnically diverse foster and adoptive parents is truly beneficial to them. The concern that children adopted by parents of a different race will have trouble identifying with their heritage has been at the center of the debate throughout history.
“The National Association of Black Social Workers has taken a vehement stand against the placement of black children in white homes for any reason,” the group’s “Position Statement on Trans-Racial Adoption” reads. “We affirm the inviolable position of black children in black families where they belong physically, psychologically and culturally in order that they receive the total sense of themselves and develop a sound projection of their future.”
David Watts, a biracial New York social worker who was adopted by white parents, agrees with the organization’s stance, and says that interracial adoptions are not the best option for African-American children because “it’s a bad idea to put a black child in a white home…I think it’s impossible for someone of one culture to teach another culture. You have to live it in order to absorb it.”
What does the research say?
It drives me nuts that we are still having this discussion. We have had years of good research that show that children adopted by families of another race compare favorable to children adopted by families of the same race. (Grow & Shapiro, 1974; Kim, 1977; McRoy, Zurcher, Lauderdale, & Anderson, 1982, 1984; McRoy & Zurcher, 1983; Simon & Alstein, 1987; Feigelman & Silverman, 1983; Shireman & Johnson, 1986). In a recent meta-analysis, Adoptees Do Not Lack Self-Esteem: A Meta-Analysis of Studies on Self-Esteem of Transracial, International, and Domestic Adoptees (Psychological Bulletin; American Psychological Association 2007, Vol. 133, No. 6, 1067–1083), researchers looked at 18 studies involving more than 2,000 adoptees and found that transracial and same-race adoptees psychological adjustment did not differ.
Research and common sense are aligned with what’s in the best interest of children. The birth family must first have help to heal since it is usually in the child’s interest to be raised by his biological parents. But, let’s face it, this is not always possible; not all parents are capable of parenting and not all families can heal. An adoptive placement—a permanent, real, forever, even-when-you’re-obnoxious home—should be found. The extended family is the first place to look. If that’s not possible, or not in the best interest of the child, then find an adoptive family.
Many factors have to be considered when looking for the best adoptive placement.
Race is one factor amongst many that should be considered when looking for the best adoptive placement. Children need permanence, and they need it as soon as possible after being removed from their biological families. They should not have to wait long periods of time for a same-race family and they should definitely not have to forego having a family because a same-race placement couldn’t be found. We don’t live in a color blind society and transracial families face additional challenges. These challenges are not insurmountable, but the issues of race do have to be addressed. All things being equal, a same-race family is preferable to adopting across racial lines, but unless that can happen quickly, then a family trumps foster care. Period.
James Higgins, one of our online Creating a Family community, is a child advocate, adoptive dad, and critic of the foster care system. (See my blog There Has Gotta Be a Better Way (Adopting from Foster Care) James raises some provocative points about the above article.
Image credit: achelms4
I am so thoroughly DISGUSTED with the article…. Do we live in a post-racial society? HELL NO! But are we STILL having a discussion on whether or not it’s acceptable to have a child of color adopted by a white family? REALLY!? You offer lifetime support and classes for these families, but for anyone to prohibit ANY child of being adopted by a caring and loving family should IMMEDIATELY lose any and all government funding. Yep, I said it….IMMEDIATELY!
Organizations such as the National Association of Black Social Workers are under some sort of delusion that there aren’t 50,000 African-American children waiting to be adopted TODAY. …[L]et me get this right, an African-Amercian child will develop a total sense of themselves and develop a sound projection of their future by growing up in FOSTER CARE!!?!? It’s organizations like this with their hard-line “vehemently” opposed stance that will continue to destroy the lives of children they claim to advocate for… Shameful!