Last week, NPR covered this story on transracial adoption. I had a chance to listen to the podcast this weekend. The first guest discussed her work interviewing African American/biracial adoptees who were raised by white parents. The second guest spoke about transracial adoption in general, summarizing the results of the research conducted over the last 40 years involving South Korean adoptees.
Both experts agreed that the notion of "color-blindness", while well-meaning, is misguided. For example, research now shows that the extraordinary majority of transracially adopted children raised in the "color blind generation" wished that they were white while growing up. They also suggested that these kids were not prepared for the racism that they later encountered living in a world that is not color blind. Ethnicity is an issue that cannot be ignored. They recommended shifting your family identity from "white" to "multi-ethnic/multi-racial".
Another recommendation was that adoptive families read the article Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption. According to the Adoption Institute, "This study, released in November, is the broadest, most extensive examination of adult adoptive identity to date, based on input from the primary experts on the subject: adults who were adopted as children." They discovered that 81% of Korean adult adoptees felt that their identity as an adopted person was "important" or "very important". They also found that, "positive racial/ethnic identity development is most effectively facilitated by 'lived' experiences such as travel to native country, racially diverse schools, and role models from their same race/ethnicity." When Korean adoptees were asked if there were specific actions that could have helped shift their identity from white to Korean-American, their top suggestion was travel to their birth country. They also felt it was important to attend a racially diverse school. One adoptee commented, "I was the only diversity in my school."
I really enjoyed this podcast. It was informative and hopeful. I thought the research presented in the Beyond Culture Camp article was a must read for all adoptive families.