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Exploring How the Society Views Trans-Racial Adoption, Research Paper Example

Pages: 9

Words: 2429

Research Paper

Introduction

Trans-racial adoption is defined as the adoption of joining of children by racially different parents.” It is very common among many domestic forms of adoption, such as traditional adoption through the foster care system, private adoption, and the raising of stepchildren within an interracial marriage after a divorce. In addition to being an issue in the U.S., it’s also become a prevailing occurrence overseas or in the form of international adoption, where children are adopted from countries of their origin and implanted into a new national culture (Lee, 2003).  Statistics show that, “In the majority of the adoptions, White parents adopt children who are considered racial/ethnic minorities in this country (Lee, 2003).” This is very telling of the adoption pools considering that it is also proven that parents looking at adoption as an option prefer adopting children of the same race.

According to CBS News public opinion poll data, Hollingsworth (2000) found that 84% of African American women and 72% Caucasian men  were less likely to approve of trans-racial adoption than African American men who served as the reference group in the logistic regression analyses Lee, 2003).” The issue as a whole brings up many controversial elements. On one end adoptions officials argue that the primary goal should be to provide foster children with loving caring families that can supplement their growth and development to be contributing members of society, but many children  of trans-racial families, both report significant feelings of cultural isolation and a depravity of racial identity. This report will attempt to collect peer review data as well as other research related to the issue of tran-racial adoption to better assess the controversial concepts and value of an upbringing in a multicultural environment.

History

Trans-racial adoption is defined as the adoption of joining of children by racially different parents.” It is very common among many domestic forms of adoption, such as traditional adoption through the foster care system, private adoption, and the raising of stepchildren within an interracial marriage after a divorce. In addition to being an issue in the U.S., it’s also become a prevailing occurrence overseas or in the form of international adoption, where children are adopted from countries of their origin and implanted into a new national culture (Lee, 2003).  Statistics show that, “In the majority of the adoptions, White parents adopt children who are considered racial/ethnic minorities in this country (Lee, 2003).” This is very telling of the adoption pools considering that it is also proven that parents looking at adoption as an option prefer adopting children of the same race.

According to CBS News public opinion poll data, Hollingsworth (2000) found that 84% of African American women and 72% Caucasian men  were less likely to approve of trans-racial adoption than African American men who served as the reference group in the logistic regression analyses Lee, 2003).” The issue as a whole brings up many controversial elements. On one end adoptions officials argue that the primary goal should be to provide foster children with loving caring families that can supplement their growth and development to be contributing members of society, but many children  of trans-racial families, both report significant feelings of cultural isolation and a depravity of racial identity. This report will attempt to collect peer review data as well as other research related to the issue of tran-racial adoption to better assess the controversial concepts and value of an upbringing in a multicultural environment.

Peer Review Studies

Study 1: Social Worker Peer Review Study

In a peer review study evaluating the perspectives held by social workers, in a poll of two select groups, one Caucasian and one who was African American the data was very telling. When the perspectives of the parents interacting with these social workers were assessed it was found that, “attitudes of U.S. social workers regarding trans-racial adoption (TRA), specifically black children being adopted by white parents. Found that white social workers were more in favor of TRA than black social workers (Fenster, 2002).” The study further found that, “African American respondents who were members of the National Association of Black Social Workers had less favorable attitudes toward TRA than black nonmembers. For black respondents, TRA attitudes related to income level and ethnic identification (Fenster, 2002).” These results are simply statements of perceived preference. The reason these findings could produce dangerous outcomes is due to the power social workers have on the success of the poor in the country as well as the control they have on adoption and child rearing. It should also be noted that the main concern over this issue that TRA member shad was due to anticipated conflicts that would arise with attaining economic prosperity and ethnic identification, as the legal concerns presented show, “However, in practice, the statutory attempts may still leave the door open to continued race-matching, which suggests that the cultural preference for race-matching in the construction of families remains powerfully ingrained and difficult to eradicate (Griffith & Bergeron, 2006).” While this is a common concern held by many individuals questioned about interracial or trans-racial families, it should also be noted that mixed race and transracial families as a community are represented in significantly higher numbers than previously studies and current social biases would suggest.

Study 2: African Americans Raised by Caucasians

In Samuel’s peer review study, “being raised by white people,” the author explores three major aspects of the issue: that ‘being “(1) the centrality yet absence of racial resemblance, (2) navigating discordant parent-child racial experiences, and (3) managing societal perceptions of transracial adoption (Samuels, 2009).” The main findings the study presents are that white parents prefer white children over black ones, and that they are predominantly the main group of adopters. It’s further found that when children of white origin are not available, children mixed with both black and white are preferred by white adopters over those of 100% black origin. While the opposite is true of Black adopters, the discrepancy that occurs with black children being more readily available stems from the fact that White applicants dominate the adoption application pool.  A study held both in the United Kingdom found that show that Black children with a White biological parent are most likely to be placed with White adopters.. Further, these same children dominate the sample populations within U.S. studies on transracial adoption of Black children (Miranda, 2004) (Samuels, 2009).” The study goes on to show that, historical reviews of transracial adoption demonstrate   that children placed of Black children in the United States involved almost exclusively children of Black-White descent  (Samuels, 2009).”

The author finds that there are a wide range of reasons that can attribute to the racial discrepancy between black and white adopted children. Samuels says, “There are many reasons why multiracial children might disproportionately be placed with White families. One factor is the persistent unmet demand for healthy White infants (Samuels, 2009).” The study shows that the main aspect that are produced from these factors is that children of multi-racial origin are treated as a commodity that are high in demand in relations to unhealthy white children and black children from a traditional black upbringing. As“Scholars note that this has increased the ‘‘adoptability’’ of infants with Black-White heritage compared with those whose parents are both identified as Black (McRoy & Grape, 1999; Quiroz, 2007) (Samuels, 2009).” It becomes clear that while race should not be a factor in adoption, and legislation prevents agencies from discriminating from allowing adoption candidates from adopting on the grounds of race, the candidates themselves are free to base their selections entirely on racial factors. In this sense the structure of the system is biased.

In the closing of the study, it is found that parents traditionally indicate one of the four primary positions as their own when to t support their decision for adopting children with a White biological parent, “even over African American children with lighter complexions” These four criteria are: (1) they will have ‘‘more in common’’ with a multiracial child, (2) they feel a more legitimate (i.e., biological) tie to a child with whom they partially share a racial heritage, (3) they feel less guilt about ‘‘taking the child away’’ from the Black community, and (4) a racially mixed child will be less visibly different and ‘‘easier to explain’’ to relatives, neighbors, and friends  (Samuels, 2009).” The core finding here is that white parents prefer adopting children of the same race, but when confronted with an adoption pool of declining selection of white children, considerably prefer adopting children of black decent with a white parent of origin as opposed to adopting black children.

Study 3: Black Parents Who Adopt White Children

Gloria King is the executive director of Black Adoption Placement and Resource Center in Oakland, Ca. She argues that black youth join the foster care system at the same exact rate as white children, but rarely leave the program at that same pace  (Hopkinson, 2011). She notes that, “In 2010, black children left the system at a rate of 24 percent and white children left at a rate of 43 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (Hopkinson, 2011).” King identifies the distinguishable barriers preventing black children from being adopted as circumstances, age and, sometimes, myths — such as black children are supposedly more troubled or harder to raise (Hopkinson, 2011). The complexity of all of the racial issues involved can be very daunting to deal with, but as the author notes, “King says ignoring the elephant in the room, especially when the elephant is holding up a race card, is not advisable whether the family is black or white. It sends the wrong message, she says (Hopkinson, 2011).”King further notes, this conflict is the core reason that can be attributed for why the few black families who actually adopt prefer children of their own race (Hopkinson, 2011).

Implications

The studies have established a common understanding among adoption agencies and families alike, that as Samuels puts it, ”racial socialization processes in transracially adoptive families may entail distinct challenges because they are undertaken by parents whose healthy functioning or survival has not required skills to cope with racial stigma (Samuels, 2009).” The problem Samuels notes is that  their children still  require these skills for their healthy functioning and development(Samuels, 2009). Samuels notes, that one social worker when asked about trans-racial adoption noted that, “if you are looking around your dinner table, and see all of your dinner guests  are of the same race, reconsider trans-racial adoption (Samuels, 2009).” The key argument posed here was that while the notion of adopting based on a colorblind ideology might seem admirable and appropriate, the reality is that not considering race as a factor, especially in regards to the specific racial atmosphere a parent would be introducing to the child is dangerous. In all of the interviewed subjects Samuel evaluated who direct experience with trans-racial family upbringings had acknowledged the lack of a multicultural atmosphere as an aspect of great despair and conflict limiting their development. He says, “But respondents described parental colorblindness as having the opposite effect, causing them to feel racially alienated with an unavoidable experience of racial stigma that was invalidated by parents (Samuels, 2009).” It’s Samuels’ belief that it’s up to the family as whether or not they will establish a comfortable setting for the adopted child, this could involve placing a vested interest on introducing the child to their racial heritage, as the author notes, “Findings suggest parents can play a crucial role in providing opportunities for their children to experience their multiracial family systems and heritages as both unique and shared (Samuels, 2009).” Here it’s clear based on Samuels’ studies that the issue is not necessarily and problem of race so much as a lack of awareness about racial constraints and ideology.

Conclusion & Reaction

In sum, the data presented paints a clear picture of the issues and true statistics related to trans-racial adoption. While the conflicts of many adults who have grown up in trans-racial households is valid criteria to evaluate the social concerns that might arise for present families considering the trans-racial adoption, another factor that must be considered is the sociological climate of the time and what it will mean in the future for children of this type of upbringing. While there are many complicated factors that go into predicting the future, and one can’t always be certain of how racial norms will affect the future happiness and prosperity of their trans-racially raised child in America, or abroad, history has shown the social atmosphere surrounding matters of race to grow more lenient with passing years. Sociologically speaking, concepts like racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice are most prevalent in society when resources are limited. In the past the fear has been that children of bi-racial, or trans-racial upbringings might not find acceptance in any specific community of racial origin. This results in them being deprived of specific opportunities, financial or social that could provide them with access to the middle class or upper middle class. Class segregation is the real divisive factor of society and any disadvantage that might sway class disparity in a more negative direction is considerably unattractive to anyone facing it as an option. That said, contemporary class structure in American and throughout the world has proven to be color blind. The recent success of U.S. President and child of bi-racial upbringing Barack Obama is valid proof of this point. His life successes, despite considerable setbacks, suggests to a The core finding of the research finds that issues that create conflict and turmoil within the practice of trans-racial adoption can be traced not to racial differences, but to the lack of shared knowledge about all of the significant factors. Most importantly, the knowledge factors that need to be assessed are those that establish the best atmosphere for prosperity and happiness for the child.

Work Cited:

Adoption Media, L. (n.d.). Transracial adoption. Retrieved from http://www.adoption.org/adopt/transracial-adoption.php

Fenster, J. (2002). Transracial adoption in black and white: A survey of social worker attitudes. Adoption Quarterly, 5(4), 33-58.

Griffith, E., & Bergeron, R. (2006). Cultural stereotypes die hard: the case of transracial adoption. J. Am Acad. Psychiatry Law, 34(3), 303-14.

Hopkinson, A. (2011). Black parents who adopt white children confront myths. The Grio, Retrieved from http://thegrio.com/2011/10/24/black-parents-adopting-white-children/

Interracial adoption is not good for kids [Web]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL-zFaZPtD0

Jessie. (2010, September 9). Transracial adoption documentary: “off and running. Retrieved from http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2010/09/09/transracial-adoption-documentary-off-and-running/

Lee, R. M. (2003). The transracial adoption paradox. NIHPA Author Manuscripts, 31(6), 711-744. doi: 10.1177/0011000003258087

Samuels, G. M. (2009). ‘‘being raised by white people’’: Navigating racial difference among adopted multiracial adults. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 80-4.

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