What Are the Major Issues in Interracial Adoption?


Adoption of a child had different parameters some fifty to sixty years ago. Children were then selected based on skin color and religion of the adoptive family which usually had no children. Later, children from the Asian American or African American or Native American heritage came to be adopted. The family may have other children and more would be adopted for various reasons. Occasionally religion triggered the adoption. It can be noticed that the trends in the selection of children for adoption are modified from time to time. The shift to inter-racial adoption has probably stemmed from the Civil Rights movement in the US. This went on for some time before the blacks started thinking deeply about the issue. Problems arose when the blacks decided that they were against the adoption of their children into inter-racial 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 identity. 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 which 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 inter-racial adoption.

Thesis question

What are the major issues in interracial adoption?

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Background

A racial barrier is not a hindrance for adopting children in many families. The bond between the members of the family including the new ones needs to be well-developed (Rose, 2003, para 3). Several easy techniques produce this bond. Amy Rose has six steps to build that bond among family members through the sharing of food. Amy Rose however misses out on other means of bond created between the family and adopted children from other races. She has however elaborated on her methods of creating a good bond between parents and inter-racial adoptees (Rose, 2003, para 3)

Inter-racial families have problems that are inevitable in a community with diverse interests. The challenges that the parents encounter are enumerated (Inter-racial families, 2009, para 4). The family would face the same reaction from the rest of the community as would a minority family. The various sections of society could subject them to odd remarks and comments. Black children could be scorned. Occasionally the parents find themselves embarrassingly guilty of racism (Inter-racial families, 2009, para 4). This would further harm the adopted children.

Legislation attempts to find racial matches for children who are minorities within 90 days of application before being moved into an inter-racial family (Inter-racial families, 2009). The author has attempted to discuss various aspects of inter-racial adoption. Personal experiences add to the richness of the arguments. The complexity of the problem is obvious. Emotional attachment is the single technique to provide a strong bond between parents and adopted children and hold their heads high in society. 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 of them. Practical solutions to the problems mentioned have been omitted in this article (Inter-racial families, 2009).

There is a greater chance of black children being adopted than white from foster care (McManus, n.d.). An attempt may be made to place white children in black families and vice versa. Little is being said about the good lives of these children and families in the article except that seventy-seven percent of the children are happy and socially adjusted. Legislation attempts to find racial matches for children who are minorities within 90 days of application before being moved into an inter-racial family.

However, the blacks were not amenable to this idea of inter-racial adoption (McManus, n.d.). Their associations refused to accept interracial adoption after elaborating the harmful effects it could have. Their protest is that racial adoption may affect black children by destroying their racial identity making it difficult to survive with their peers after coming out of their adoption. Legislation oversees that problems are minimized. The article by McManus highlights the various aspects of arguments by the blacks. 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”.

The losing 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. The stay with the adoptive family may be a happy and satisfactory one. Later these children may have issues when living with peers of the same race. Moreover, the children may be considered differently when much older in their adoptive family (Hilborn, 2009). “In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act, forbidding a federally-funded agency from denying the placement of a child just because of race or national origin.” (Hilborn, 2009, para.6). Following this act, inter-racial adoption has taken off well. Steps are being taken to teach the inter-racially adopted children about the possible problems of racial identity in the future.

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Social workers have come into the picture and expressed their opinions about inter-racial adoption (Hilborn, 2009). Arguments for and against inter-racial adoption have been addressed. The ban on the adoption of native children by nonnative parents in Canada has made things clear there. One argument that favors inter-racial adoption is that the adopted children may be taught their own culture (Hilborn, 2009).

Intercultural or interracial adoption is defined as “the adoption of children from one ethnic group to another” (Transracial and transcultural adoption, 2009). Adoptive parents harbor thoughts from different angles when deciding to adopt. For some, culture and race may be the 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 (Transracial and transcultural adoption, 2009). Whatever opinions are, adoptive parents of inter-racial adoption must be prepared for the new child and the possible problems that could arise. The members of the receiving family need to ensure that all of them accept the child with the same fervor and be very close to it. The family itself must be close to each other and the adoption should not be a ground for dispute among them. There may be other children who should totally absorb the message of the parents and welcome the new child wholeheartedly (Transracial and transcultural adoption, 2009). Realities of life must be tackled altogether.

Summary of the article “Adoption”

The article entitled “Adoption” has been published by NASW (National Association of Social Workers). Policies and good practices for child welfare are developed and formulated by this association (Adoption, 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 article elaborates the general features surrounding adoption and the special needs in the process. The impact of religion, effects of age and race, foster care, inter-racial 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 transcultural or trans-ethnic adoption on the child’s identity and self-esteem are discussed in the article (Adoption, 2009). Four possible outcomes could result from non-Mexican American parents adopting Mexican American children (Bausch et al, 1997 cited in Adoption, 2009). Ethic 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.

Social workers have many services for the adoption and post-adoption processes (Adoption, 2009). 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 the 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 transracial parents. Transracial 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

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 was most unlikely to condone transracial adoption (Hollingsworth, 2000 as cited in Adoption, 2009). Among the African American race, the women were 84 % less prone to approve of transracial adoption than the men. The Caucasian men were less likely to approve. The application of findings in the general population is indicated in the study.

Transracial 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 the Recruitment of Adoptive Families.

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Openness is the attitude of families that have evolved to produce sure stability in contact and enabled vast communications with the original or biological family of the child (Frasch et al, 2000 as cited in Adoption, 2009). Mailed questionnaires were used here. Another study on openness identified three groups: rejectors, acceptors, and embracers. The community has been identified as an important stakeholder. Potential predictors of psychological counseling and the experience of adoption were found to be reliable here (Muller et al, 2002 as cited in Adoption). Psychological similarity has been found in young children.

Highlighted passages from the article

Opponents of policies that protect same-race adoption assert that children of color are languishing in out-of-home care because they are being restricted from entering trans-racial adoption arrangements. This study argues that trans-racial adoption is not necessary to ensure that children of color are adopted in a timely manner and sets forth alternative arguments around six issues:

  1. policies favoring adoption by foster parents,
  2. the availability of same-race families to adopt children of color,
  3. the abundance of children in out-of-home care unavailable for adoption or with special needs,
  4. disparities in child welfare services related to ethnicity,
  5. misleading data on the numbers of children of color who are in foster care,
  6. poverty as an underlying cause of out-of-home placements.

This study presents the history of the trans-racial adoption controversy and discusses its current status; counters assertion typically used to oppose same-race adoption policies for children of color; summarizes the positions of several social work organizations regarding adoption and race; and makes recommendations for education, policy, research, and practice.

Next highlighted passage

The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain insight into the adoption experiences of African American adoptive parents. Nine in-depth, audio taped interviews were conducted during 2000-2001 with 13 participants. They were middle-class, age 40 or above, religiously affiliated, and expressed the importance of faith in their daily lives. Although most participants preferred young, healthy female children (which is no different than non-African American adoptive parents), they were flexible in discarding preferences when presented with an actual child. Most were first-time parents who expressed uncertainty about their parenting ability, hence their comfortableness in initially adopting younger children. After having gained self-confidence, some of the participants adopted boys and members of sibling groups

Paraphrasing

The people who are against inter- racial adoption perceive that children who should have been adopted into homes are wasting their time and not availing of the out-of-home care due to the restrictions made by legislation. This has affected their psychological health. 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 of adoptive care through transracial adoption at least. Six issues have been identified which prevent adoption if it is going to be a same-race adoption but promotes inter-racial 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. Controversies on transracial adoption are highlighted. The recent understanding of the transracial adoption has incorporated similar policies and views of various organizations committed to the social work of transracial adoption.

The exploration of the experiences of African American adoptive parents was the purpose of this qualitative study. The 13 participants were middle class and aged 40 years and above. Deeply religious, their perceptions on adoption were influenced by their faith as it would any of their daily activities. Nine audio-taped interviews were conducted among these African American people in 2001-2002 to know their response to adoption (Caulton, 2005 as cited in Adoption, 2009). Most of the participants wished to adopt female children who were young and healthy. Surprisingly this was similar to the response of non-African American people. First time parents wanted to have younger children and females as they were not too sure about their parenting ability. Showing a preference for younger children, they professed that this would make it easier to communicate with them and be surer that they would cooperate. Growing experience of handling issues and gaining confidence would strengthen them for handling adopted males and older children. Some experienced participants adopted boys and siblings.

Summary

Inter-racial adoption happens to be a prominent issue in the United States. Introduction has now been given in fair detail which makes this paper fairly complete. Inter-racial adoption and its perspectives have been added. There gaps in literature which could have produced some incontinuity in logic have been closed hopefully. Suggestions as to how potential adoptive parents need to face the issue of adoption across the barriers of race and ethnicity have been included. A proper introduction satisfies the missing elements.

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Conclusion

Several research articles are related to inter-racial adoption. The different points of view of these articles bring together the different problems and aspects of inter-racial adoption. Heated debates flame out at intervals from smouldering embers in different parts of the world. It is an issue which never dies down what with racial discrimination being a parallel hot subject. The population is very much aware about the social and psychological aspects of inter-racial adoption. Reliable studies speak about adoption procedures, experiences of adoptive parents, experiences of adopted children, experiences of social workers in inter-racial adoption and the like. Personal experiences of adoptive families and social workers who are related to adoption process provide plenty of reliable information. Different arguments of opponents and proponents have been included in most of the articles. Advice of experts in the field of adoption would be very helpful for the people who prepare for interracial adoption and those who have already adopted in this way and are in the post adoption period. Racial barrier is not a hindrance for adopting children in many families (Rose, 2009). Amy Rose has elaborated on her methods of creating a good bond between parents and inter-racial adoptees through the sharing of meals. The family with inter-racial adoptees would face the same reaction from the rest of the community as would a minority family (Interracial families, 2009). Legislation attempts to find racial matches for children who are minorities within 90 days of application before being moved into an inter-racial family. More black children are available for adoption than white (McManus, n.d.). Legislation oversees that problems are minimized. The losing of the black racial identity when adopted by a white family is also discussed by Hilborn (2009). Arguments for and against inter-racial adoption have been addressed. Adoptive parents harbor thoughts from different angles when deciding to adopt. Child Welfare Agencies control the process of adoption. “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.

References

Adoption. (2009). NASW: National Association of Social Workers. Web.

Hilborn, R. (2009). Transracial adoption. Family Helper: Adoption Resource Central. Web.

Interracial families – Transracial, transcultural adoption. (2009). Adopting.org. Web.

McManus, M. (n.d.). Issues in transracial adoption. 2009. Web.

Rose, A. (2009). How to create family bonding with interracial adoption. E How: How to do Just about Everything. Web.

Transracial and transcultural adoption. (2009). Adoption Online: Adoption Education Center. Web.

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