Should Transracial Adoption be Allowed

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Abstract

In this paper, I will be exploring the idea of transracial adoption and the effect it has on the families and children involved. There are many proponents of transracial adoption as well as others who believe it is not in the best interest of the child to grow up in a home where they are the odd one out. It discusses whether staying in institutional care is better for the child than being placed with a family of a different race. This paper will look at expert opinions and statistics regarding the topic, and provide personal experiences to support the idea that children should be given homes regardless of the color of themselves or the family.

Transracial or interracial adoption can be a very controversial topic. According to the most recent AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System) report (2018), over 400,000 children are in foster care, 55% of whom are non-white. While the finding of homes for children in need should have a positive impact, many individuals believe that white families adopting or fostering minority children can strip them of their racial identity, or even damage the minority culture as a whole. The controversy also brings up the difficulties a transracially adopted child may face when dealing with their racial identity, and figuring out where they belong in society. White children are adopted at a faster rate than minority children, and there are not enough minority parents available to match every child in need of a home. There is no reason for such a large number of children to be without a safe and loving home simply because of the race they were born. The amount of issues that can arise in the adoption of children of color into white families are far outweighed by the positive impact a loving and stable home a child will receive.

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Many minority children are left in institutional care for longer periods of time than non-minority children. This is often due to the idea of “race-matching,” or placing a child in a family of his or her same race. Goldsmith (2004) states ,“In 1994 congress passed the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which prohibits using race, culture, or ethnic identity to block or delay transracial foster care placements or adoptions (par.3).” Although it is technically illegal, these practices are still very much in use today. All available efforts should be made to match children to a family of their same race. However, there are not enough minority families willing or ready to adopt as there are children in need of a home. According to Perez (2001) “Race-matching is often valued above the immediate placement of children in permanent homes” (par.2). Choosing to place the race of the family over the need of the child is recklessly irresponsible, because readily available homes are not being taken advantage of. Children in need of homes are often of two or three ethnic backgrounds, so matching a child perfectly to a family is impossible.

White families that wish to adopt a child of color experience many more difficulties than prospective families of that child’s same race. According to Albrecht (2002), “In the application phase, as compared to prospective adoptive black parents, prospective white parents experience greater delays in the processing of their paperwork. It is not uncommon for home evaluations to be constantly postponed, for important application files or background checks to mysteriously disappear or for unfair allegations to be made (par.2).” These types of processes can cause children to remain in government-funded care for far longer than necessary. Not only is it tedious for the prospective family, it can be harmful for the child. If a caring, capable family is denied the ability to adopt a child based only on race, the child will deal with feelings of abandonment and rejection without a justifiable cause. Only a loving home can provide the care and stability a child needs to feel safe and secure. Those feelings alone can be the difference in their mental and emotional well being, all the way into adulthood.

Perez (2001) argues “Children are often shifted between foster care situations, left to remain in institutions or subjected to unnecessary delays in permanent placements (par.9).” Constantly changing a child’s living environment causes a lack of a sense of stability in their life. They will have difficulties trusting their families and can have issues with feeling attachment to anyone, which can easily follow them into their adult lives. This can cause issues in personal relationships later on in life and even affect their ability to stay in a job or in one location long-term. These issues are by no means incurable, but working through them is a long and complex process that will be difficult and trying for anyone in that situation. Leaving children in institutional care can have similar effects. However, they may not receive the chance to have a loving home.

In 1987 a young African-American boy, Raymond Bullard, was taken from the only family he had ever known. The Philadelphia Department of Human services relocated him to an African-American foster family because they had a policy against long-term interracial foster care and adoption placements. Perez explained, “The removal was in no way attributed to the quality of care provided by Raymond’s foster parents. Two years later, Raymond was diagnosed as clinically depressed. His speech impediment had grown worse and he displayed excessive aggression and preoccupation with death. Only after this diagnosis was made did the federal district court return Raymond to his initial foster home (par.1).” His issues did not go away immediately. However, going back to his initial home helped him to continue on a path of healing and restoration.

There are many who believe that transracial adoption is harmful to the child. They argue that it will have a negative effect on minority culture. Neal (2001) states, “Many adult transracial adoptees report that, once they leave home, they feel that they do not belong anywhere. On the one hand they are not fully accepted in the White community and—even though they are more accepted in the Black community—they often do not understand various cultural nuances. Race and culture can not be ignored” (par.13). There can be issues of non acceptance from both ends of the spectrum, but no matter how far we progress as a society, there will always be uneducated individuals who do not accept anything but what they view as “normal.” However, the idea that simply because a child grows up in a family of a different race, they can not belong is a bit extreme. While it is more difficult for an interracially adopted child to find a sense of belonging, it is not by any means impossible. In fact, it can even be beneficial to race relations. Albrecht (2002) states “Most transracial adoptees had a favorable opinion of transracial adoptions. Virtually all adoptees strongly disagreed with the National Association of Black Social Workers view of transracial adoption as a form of “cultural genocide.” Instead, adoptees expressed opinions that white homes should be viewed as viable adoptive homes, not just as a second best alternative, for black and biracial children currently languishing in foster care (par.23).”

Roorda (2015) writes, “For white parents who chose to adopt a black child or a child of color, they should, of course, give the child the best care that they can give him/her, including a great education, and not let the kid be disillusioned into thinking that he/she is white” (pg 61). Adoptive or foster parents should realize that their child will have difficulty in their racial identity. There will be challenges both the parents and the child will be presented with that have no clear and decisive answer. Children of color who grow up in white homes live in two very different worlds, one of privilege and one of prejudice. White parents of a minority child should prepare them for the prejudice they will receive. This is something they will not adequately be able to do alone, simply because they have no first-hand experience with racism. It is strongly suggested that parents do research on their child’s specific culture’s history and find playgroups for their children that include other children of color. It can also be important to find a group or activity where the child is not the “minority.” These parents should also seek advice from friends and experts of an ethnic background. Questions on topics such as “how do I explain what the n-word is to my child,” are never going to be adequately answered by a white individual. They have never had that experience before, however an African-American individual has dealt with this topic on a first hand basis. This open communication can aid in racial relations due to topics that often make non-minority people uncomfortable being discussed and understood in a way they could not have before. Adopted children need to know where they came from, especially if they are of a different ethnic background than their family. Even if a relationship with their birth parents is not possible, any positive relationship with adults of their same ethnic background can be extraordinarily beneficial to them and their family.

In my own experience, interracial adoption is a beautiful and complex way of completing a family. My second youngest sister is transracially adopted. We have a very open adoption, and she has had the ability to contact her birth parents from the time she was very little. When she was 7 years old, our entire family went to visit them. Her questions and concerns have always been centered around the fact that she does not look like the rest of her family. She often fantasizes what it would be like to live with her biological parents, because one of them would look like her. Being adopted by a white family is something that she has to deal with every day of her life. There are things that my parents have had to learn to navigate because they have a child of color. My mother had to learn how to care for ethnic hair, and was awakened to the the fact that most retail stores have nothing more than a shelf for ethnic hair in the 4 asile beauty section. My parents work hard to ensure that our understanding of different cultures and issues surrounding race is always expanding. There are many issues and topics that I view very differently than I would have otherwise. My mother has witnessed racism towards my sister, and it has made us all more aware of the world around us and the issues that plague our society to this day. She and I have also joined groups that strive for racial unity. In my mother’s life, she has also been able to form relationships with women of color that have benefited her as a mother to my sister. She has been able to ask questions and be given advice that she would have never otherwise been able to receive. We have had many difficult conversations concerning white privilege and racial discrimination that probably would not have happened had my sister not been transracially adopted.

If no efforts are made to increase the ability of non-minority families to adopt children of color there will be a severe increase of children in the foster/institutional care system. The already large number of children being forced to stay in temporary foster homes, or in institutional care will grow. Prospective families will lose the chance of adopting a child and have to wait for much longer periods of time to bring a child into their family. For example, if a non-minority family wishes to adopt a child, and there is a large availability of minority children in need of a home, they would still have to wait a long period of time before adopting the child. This would result in the waiting child remaining in the institutional care system or foster care for much longer than necessary. It benefits every person involved to allow non-minority parents to adopt a minority child.

Transracial adoption is a positive way for families to come together and find one another. Transracial adoptions should be encouraged for the mental health of the child, they will feel a sense of security and love in a way they could not before. It should also be encouraged because it can reduce the amount of children who have to remain in institutional or foster care. Another reason it would be a positive improvement is the effect it could have on racial relations. Conversations and topics that would not come up between a minority and non-minority person otherwise will be discussed. In my own experience I have been able to learn about and discuss topics and issues that would most likely have never come to my attention if my sister was the same race as the rest of our family. Non-minority individuals will be able to understand people of other ethnic backgrounds in a way they were unable to before, simply because they did not know to ask. While many believe that transracial adoption has a negative effect on minority culture, many individuals who were transracially adopted, or are part of a multi-ethnic family believe that it is a positive step towards a happier and healthier society. Overall, the concept of interracial adoption is one that is almost indisputably positive for any individuals involved.

References

  1. AFCARS (2018, November 8). Adoption & Foster Care Statistics. Retrieved April 13, 2019, from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/afcars
  2. Albrecht, K. W. (2002). Transracial Adoptions Should Be Encouraged. In R. Espejo (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Adoption. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Human Resources, 1998) Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010104240/OVIC?u=nort98997&sid=OVIC&xid=18fbf145
  3. Goldsmith, S. (2004). Transracial Adoptions Can Be Beneficial. In W. Dudley (Ed.), Current Controversies. Issues in Adoption. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from The Color of Love, New Times Los Angeles, 1998) Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010271209/OVIC?u=nort98997&sid=OVIC&xid=ef976684
  4. Kennedy, Randall. “Transracial Adoption Should Be Encouraged.” Interracial America, edited by Eleanor Stanford, Greenhaven Press, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010148261/OVIC?u=nort98997&sid=OVIC&xid=4d5563dc. Accessed 13 Apr. 2019. Originally published in Interracial Intimacies, Random House, 2003.
  5. Neal, L. (2001). Transracial Adoptions Should Not Be Encouraged. In M. E. Williams (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Interracial America. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Focal Point, 1996, Spring) Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010148231/OVIC?u=nort98997&sid=OVIC&xid=de8aba41
  6. Perez, A. (2001). Transracial Adoptions Should Be Encouraged. In M. E. Williams (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Interracial America. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Yale Law and Policy Review, n.d., 17[1], 201-206) Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010148230/OVIC?u=nort98997&sid=OVIC&xid=be937542
  7. Roorda, R. M. (2015). In Their Voices: Black Americans on Transracial Adoption. Columbia University Press.
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Should Transracial Adoption be Allowed. (2021, May 10). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/should-transracial-adoption-be-allowed/