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Transracial adoption

Transracial adoption is the practice, increasingly common, of parents of one race or ethnic group adopting a child of another race or ethnic group.

The notion has faced opposition. The argument put forward by certain activists and social workers is that transracial adoption leads to assimilation -- the gradual erosion of the cultural identities of black, aboriginal and other non-white communities. Many black and native leaders doubt that white parents can provide the pride, appreciation of cultural heritage and sense of identity that a child would gain from parents of the same race.

There are social workers who argue that it is better to place children, particularly native children in Canada, with adoptive parents of their own race. They assume that unless a child lives with his or her own racial kind, he or she will grow up confused, maladjusted and unequipped for the trials of life as a member of a visible minority.

In the U.S. the debate over transracial parenting is decades old. In 1972 the National Association of Black Social Workers came out favouring same-race adoption, calling the adoption of black children by white parents a "particular form of genocide." For 20 years agencies steered black children away from white families, saying transracial adoption was culturally inappropriate. With poorer black families unable to adopt them, thousands of black children ended up in the limbo of foster care.

In the last decade attitudes started to change. Research in 1993 (Silverman) showed that transracial adoption is a viable means of providing stable homes for waiting children -- about 75% of transracially-adopted children adjusted well in their adoptive homes. A 1995 study (Sharma, McGue, Benson) found that transracial adoption was not detrimental for the adoptee in terms of adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, peer relationships, parental and adult relationships.

In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act, forbidding a federally-funded agency from denying placement of a child just because of race or national origin. It states "discrimination is not to be tolerated."

Since then, transracial adoptions have risen. In 1987 about 8% of all adoptions included parents and children of different races. By 1998 about 15% of the 36,000 adoptions of foster children in the U.S. were transracial or transcultural. The U.S. census of 2000 reported that 17% of adopted children under 18 were of a different race than the head of household.

Meanwhile in Canada, some native leaders have banned the adoption of native children by non-natives, and many adoption authorities favour same-race placement. The result is fewer chances for native children to be adopted and longer times in foster care. However bands in western Canada have recently had success in placing native children with families on the reserve, using custom adoption ceremonies which recognize traditional practices.

When adopting children of a different race or ethnic group it's important to teach them the value of their own culture and heritage. Some techniques include taking your child to places where people are of his or her race or ethnic background, celebrating the child's culture by observing specific holidays and customs, and listening to music.

Aboriginal Pre-Adoption On Line (AOL) Course, Course for parents adopting Canadian Aboriginal children, stressing the importance of culture and identity. Interactive training between participants and facilitators. Online training dates: Sept. 19 - Dec. 19, 2012; Jan. 9 - Mar. 31, 2013. Offered by Caring for First Nations Children Society.
Adoption and Race: Articles, Many articles on race and identity, family "fit", bias. PACT, San Francisco.
Ask the Experts, Answers to parents' questions about transracial adoption, race and heritage. New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children.
Association for Transracially Adopted and Fostered People, Information and support for those interested in transracial adoption and fostering. ATRAP, UK.
Bâtir une famille adoptive multiraciale saine, French version of the AFABC booklet "Raising Healthy Multiracial Adoptive Families".
Becoming a Multi-Ethnic Family, Marybeth Lambe, 1998.
Growing Up in a Multiracial Family: My Concept of Self, AFABC.
Hair: Hair and Skin Care for Kids: A guide for parents of black and bi-racial children, Tips and tricks; brushes, combs, braids. Theresa Brodie, AFABC.
Hair: Taria Curlz, Care for curly hair (biracial and black children). Instructional DVD. Ilona Reece, Winnipeg.
Interracial Families - Multi-Cultural Parenting, Articles on transracial adoption, keeping ties to heritage and culture.
National Adoption Center, Eight articles under Resource Library - Race and Culture.
National Assn. of Black Social Workers, Detroit MI.
National Center on Permanency for African American Children, Howard University, Washington DC.
Raising Children of a Different Heritage, Susan Waugh, AFABC.
Raising Inter-Racial Children: Some Helpful Strategies, Adoption Council of Ontario, 1998.
Selected Articles on Transracial/Transcultural Adoption, Many articles; adoptees' stories; siblings' stories; parents' stories. New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children.
STARS (Sharing Transracial Adoption Resources and Support), Support for parents raising children of different races and cultures. Theresa Alden, Lancaster PA
Thoughts of a Korean Adoptee, Adoption Council of Ontario.
Transracial Adoptees' Bill of Rights, Every child is entitled to... Adoption Council of Ontario.
Transracial and Transcultural Adoption, For prospective parents adopting from another race or culture. Help children develop a strong sense of racial or cultural identity. Confront racial comments. Enhance self-esteem. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 1994.

Articles and books

Adoptive Families Assn. of B.C. Everyday Acts Against Racism: Raising Children in a Multicultural World. Vancouver: Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia. Mothers and teachers suggest practical ways to end racial divisions.

Babb, Anne and Rita Laws. "Transracial Adoption" in their Adopting and Advocating for the Special Needs Child: a Guide for Parents and Professionals. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey, 1997. Authors are adoption professionals, long-time support volunteers, child advocates, and mothers of a total of 21 children, 13 of them adopted children with special needs.

Bartholet, Elizabeth. Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Adoption stigma, racism and how the adoption system creates barriers to adoption.

Fancott, Harriet, ed. Raising Healthy Multiracial Adoptive Families: a Question and Answer Guide for Adoptive Parents. Surrey, B.C.: Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia, AFABC, 2006. Adoption experts tackle Culture and Heritage, Stereotypes, Family Life, School Days, Racism, Dealing with Professionals.

Hollinger, J.H. and ABA Center on Children and the Law National Resource Center on Legal and Courts Issues. A guide to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by the Interethnic Provisions of 1996. Washington, DC: American Bar Association. 1998.

Mahoney, Jim. Racism Issues and Multicultural Families: Attacking racism before it defeats your child

Mathias, Barbara and Mary Ann French. 40 Ways to Raise a Nonracist Child. Vancouver: Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia. A practical tool to help families talk openly about racism.

North American Council on Adoptable Children. Parenting Resource Manual. St. Paul, Minn.: 1998. Designed for parents who are currently parenting a child of a different race, culture or ethnicity, the book features dozens of articles that address the day-to-day realities faced by multiracial families.

Reddy, Maureen. Everyday Acts against Racism: Raising Children in a Multicultural World. Seattle: Seal Press, 1996. Mothers and teachers suggest practical ways to end racial divisions.

Regan, Christine Jones. "Carefully Taught," in After the Morning Calm: Reflections of Korean Adoptees, Sunrise Ventures (Bloomfield MI), 1999. Adoptee from Korea, on growing up with racism.

Register, Cheri. Are Those Kids Yours? American Families with Children Adopted from Other Countries. New York, Free Press, 1991. From her own experience, and her study of American families, Register emphasizes the life-enhancing aspects of having a dual heritage.

Riable, John. The Significance of Racial Identity in Transracially Adopted Young Adults

Silverman, A.R. (1993). Outcomes of transracial adoption. The Future of Children, 3(1), 104-118.

Spalding, Donna Gillis. Roots, Wings and Other Things: A Mothers True Story Of Transracial Adoptions. Rain Publishing,, Burlington ON, 2006. Raising an interracial family that "works", in Canada.

Steinberg, Gail and Beth Hall. Inside Transracial Adoption: Strength-based, Culture-sensitizing Parenting Strategies for Intercountry or Domestic Families That Don't Match. Indianapolis, IN: Perspectives Press, 2000. Raising a child of different ethnicity.

Wiedemeier Bower, Jeanette. Transracial Parenting Project: Self Awareness Tool. From NACAC's transracial parenting project, a manual to help you decide if adopting a child from another race or culture is for you.

Zuri, Ola. Why Can't You Look Like Me?. Kelowna, BC: Black Oasis Ent.: 2009. In a story by a transracial adoptee and mother of five, a young girl adopted transracially deals with the feeling she doesn't fit in, even within her own family. Promotes diversity, transracial adoption and building positive self-esteem in children.

Articles and books

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