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What Effect Has Interracial Placement Has on Children's Lives? an Extensive Review

Updated on June 15, 2021
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.

Interracial or trans-racial placements are not new, in essence, placement of children of a particular race with the family of another has been hotly debated for many years. In reality, there are a number of children in the foster care system, who if they fail to be placed in a family of another race, they may not be placed at all. Unfortunately, foster and adoption homes are not sufficient in placing all children in a same-race home. There have been arguments on both spectrums regarding whether placing a child from a particular racial or ethnic group or in a family with different racial backgrounds is in the best interest of the child.

In has been argued that allowing children to flounder in institutions, groups, homes or similar placements while waiting for race placement is more risky to their well being in comparison to placing the child in a home with a different race. It is common to hear that a child may not be able to learn on their culture if they fail to live within their own community. We have also heard in one point to another white families should not have a black child placed among them because they will not understand on how to take care of the child’s hair. It is also common to hear arguments articulating that a child should be placed “with their own”. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the arguments for and against Trans-racial placements of Children

Why Trans-racial Placement in Children’s Lives is Significant

Placement of foster children in homes with different racial or ethnic backgrounds offers them an opportunity to embrace diversity. Such diversity may not have existed before adoption. Children in these contexts may benefit from various opportunities that may be helpful in expanding their cultural horizons. Being raised up in a cultural diverse setting may offer such children with music, books, artwork or music which represents the child’s race. This will therefore, create a positive identity for the child that will also help in expanding the racial awareness for the whole family. When a child has established an identity for himself or herself, by being taught on his or her background, this will open the child into accepting various ethnic and racial backgrounds. This way, the child may become more open to learning other cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Children who have been through homes with different racial or ethnic or racial backgrounds will in most cases handle concerns related to identity better in relation to those who have not because of the fact that they may not act as everyone else. Children who have been adopted in trans-racial homes are capable of dealing with various types of insecurities that they may be experiencing while growing. This is very much beneficial to children since it is a variable for adoption that may be easily identified, and worked at in building a foundation for the life of the child.

According to the Child Welfare Information GateWay (2014), children greatly benefit from learning on people’s differences. Learning on such variations may be very inspiration on these children. Children adopted transracially have also an advantage of participating in different cultural festivities and therefore, are able to learn about different cultures. Adoptive parents are taught that if he or she adopts the child that is of a different race, then the child should be exposed to cultural celebrations and festivities that are of the child’s race. Such children will greatly benefit from this endeavor because it can help them to build self-esteem.

Studies on transracial adoption have shown that majority of children from minority groups in trans-racial placements do adjust quite well in a mixed race contests. In most cases, delay in pre-placement and placement emotional and physical problems harbors a negative effect on the adjustment and development of such children. Most transracial adoptees harbor a sense of identity with their own racial backgrounds. However, the potency of this identity depends in a large extent on the dedication of the adoptive parents in fostering it. Children naturally grow without being conscious of racist tendencies when they live in societies that are non-racist. Until then, adults are expected to guide their children accordingly in racism development. Recent studies have affirmed that trans-racial adoptions has proved to be a viable method in offering loving and stable homes for children in waiting. Moreover, it has also happened to produce children with high self-esteem just like the non-adopted child and those with a high a satisfactory adjustment.

Tran racial placement may not be a panacea for problems associated with deterioration of the family among the minority groups. However, its success indicates that it is actually an essential resource. The highly desirable efforts in expanding interracial placements of children from minority groups do not require the cessation of transracial placements. In addition, as long as the number of minority children who need stable homes exceeds the number of minority families that are willing and capable of accepting them, trans-racial placements is a resource that must not be ignored.

Support for trans-racial adoption is very apparent and has been backed up by many studies. Transracially adoptive parents are excepted to deal with the problems that crop up in adoptive children as well as racial issues. Further, transracial families are given resources to assist them in these areas. Psychological studies has established that children adopted transracially are effective in handing identity related issues. According to studies, such children in most cases do not pretend to be who they are not. In adoption homes, children are allowed to deal with issues related to adoption before the challenging teenage years. More often, children who grow up in such contexts are capable of bridging the culture gap as established by research.

The delay in adoptive home is an highlight concerning what is at stake on transracial adoption: the well being of children from minority groups. It is commonly agreed by experts that delayed placement in a permanent home may result into real and serious harm to a child. To truly flourish, children need a permanent family. A child’s welfare is positively affected the earlier he or she becomes a part of such stable and permanent environment. Adoptive families would therefore provide children with a stable and health environment for either institutional or foster families.

It has also been postulated by advocates of trans-racial adoption that family experience is more crucial compared to growing up in a similar race context. Orphans are able to receive better care and love from a family environment, irrespective of the race or ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, trans-racial adoption is an effective solution for the racially divided world and may be essential in realizing a true integration.

Trans-racial adoption is especially for children coming from developing nations offer an excellent opportunity in saving the child from the challenges of an economically disadvantaged contexts by bring them towards a more prosperous one where they will be exposed to more opportunities that if they were placed in the same race contexts. Trans-racial adoption is a great way for a family with no child to establish a family, while at the same time doing good to the child and the world in general. Trans-racial adoption has been supported by research as an efficient option for children with no homes, most children who are trans-racially adopted become well adjusted and happy just as others.

The reason why many people have gone for trans-racial adoption is that the race and culture variation promotes a strong sense of racial awareness on not only the child, but also the entire family. It also promotes understanding and healthy respect for the different races. The social networks also broaden with the adoptive family embracing the natural family of the adopted child. They will also be able to make new friends with individuals of the same race as their child. Interracially adopted children will be able to move in a racially diverse culture. These may include churches, clubs, schools, health professionals and even in entertainment areas. Adoptive parents are tasked with explaining racial prejudices, which they might encounter in the world and even in the social circle and contexts of the parents. Although, people may make insensitive comments concerning the accent or background of the child, and others may ask humiliating questions concerning his background. Adoptive children may be susceptible to negative observations that are based in their race and color. The adoptive family may provide a shift to cultural varied so that the child blends easily.

Benefits to the Child

In essence, trans-racial adoption helps in finding homes for orphaned children who would otherwise be deprived the opportunity of a healthy and a stable home. This will be either through a either permanent basis or in a specific period of time. Particularly, race matching may not be to the best interest of the child to the extent that it may jeopardizes and delay their opportunity to be placed in a permanent home. Transracial racial adoption is beneficial to the child psychologically because it helps in preventing the particular child from passing as parents biological offspring and rejecting his or her adoptive offspring. Tran’s racial adoption also instills a healthier acceptance of the fact that their family is in many ways not similar as their biological family. A transracially-adopted child has a potential of gaining a more positive self-esteem with his racial identity and adoptive status.

Apparently, the child will enjoy a better relationship with the parents because the apparent racial variation between the child and the parent reinforces that the foundation of the family is based on relationship bonds, and not biology as postulated by TRA opponents. This will result into better and enhanced communication, which subsequently leads to increased family stability, acceptance and understanding of their racial and adoptive racial identities. This is also an affirmation that the child is valued and wanted. Trans-racial adoption also encourages the adopting parents in consciously remembering that their child is adopted. This will assist eh parents in accepting the child, the way he or she is, instead of just having an expectation of the same capabilities and personalities that may be based on a wrong biological relationship. Moreover, the parents have a more likelihood of crediting the child for his or her accomplishments since these accomplishments are viewed as being of the child, and not due to the parents genetic condition.

Parents who happen to adopt a child in a different race are likely to be the most qualified to adopt. For instance, if white parents wished to adopt a black child, then such parents are likely to understand that Whites and Blacks are equal and as such, they ought to be treated equal. Parents that adopt transracially are in most cases, those who are well educated. This additional education coupled with an understanding that comes with it has proved to be beneficial to children.

It can also be argued that a white parent who may wish to adopt a child from another race portrays a high level of commitment to the whole process of adoption. In majority of the strange adoptions, the adopting parent is required to take a proactive step in creating an adoptive family. However, parents who wish to adopt transracially are not only required to consider this step, but must also accept racial differences. The relationship of adoptin mainly relies on the nurturing aspect of parenting, in relation to biological aspect of parenting.

Benefits to the Society

Proponents of transraciall adoption postulate that TRA assists the society in general since it helps in alleviating racial tension and racism in general. The adopted children, adopting parents, the family and friends quickly learn that both whites and Blacks deserve to be treated equally. In addition, societal racism is decreased by the increased social contact between members of different races. Societal members who see white parents who adopts black children get to learn that blacks and whites are capable of relating and loving one another. TRA therefore plays a big part in altering the societal misconceptions regarding families and it assist people in developing new notions and conceptions about the family. Though parents that adopt minority children have a likelihood of being racially open minded, most of these parents become more racially accepting on other races after transracially adopting.

It is believed by scholars and experts alike that prejudice is caused by lack of social contact. In effectively alleviating this vice, individuals must interact with people of different races with equal social status in the pursuit of common objectives. The theory of social contact is based on the assumption that prejudice can be decreased by simply showing through contact that individuals of different appearance may have interests, beliefs, fears and values that are similar to individuals that have the same appearances. According to the theorists in social contact, only particular types of social contact can be able to effectively reduce prejudice. Particularly, the quality of social contact is crucial to successful change. Social contact theory is suited to transraciall adopting since TRA specifically related to the development of meaningful relations between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

In accordance to some scholars, white parents may become motivated to adopt in order to gain “a cultural experience”. Owing to these, they may therefore, not be prepared to care the racial background of the child. However, there are adoption agencies that provide education programs for parents who wish to adopt transracially. For white parents who wish to adopt children from other races, TRA provides such parents with an incentive to learn about other cultures in the society. This cultural perspective is beneficial to both the parents and children. For instance, it is likely to provide both the children and parents with the ability to interact and integrate into other cultures socially. These benefits seem to proliferate, as the children grow older since parents will continue to learn more concerning the child’s life.

Arguments against TRA

Most opponents of TRA postulate that TRA is detrimental to adopted black children. They argue that when children from the black race placed with white parents, they do not learn how to fend off racial assaults. According to their view, only black parents can effectively teach black children how to deal with racism since white parents have no experience of black life and hence, may not understand how to deal with the societies’ treatment of the black. In description of the social armoring argument, TRA opponents base their assumptions on four main points: First, white parents cannot effectively teach children from the black race how to ignore or fend off racial insults. Second, white parents may not effectively discern an individual’s encounter with racist perceptions, expressions, or the appropriateness of submitting or fighting. Thirdly, white parents may not focus on the strengths and value of black as a countermeasure of prejudicial encounters. Finally, white parents may not be able to evaluate both subjectively and objectively the degree of nepotistic advantage or similar group favoritism that precludes opportunities for advancement in employment, education, or business. They continue to articulate that for black children to effectively meet their needs on psychological development, they have to be placed with parents of the same race. According to them, cross race adoption could damage black children psychologically. Same race placement, they go on is crucial for developing black identity. This is because; white parents are not effectively equipped in successively conveying a positive black identity to black children.

Another argument put forward by TRA opponents is that TRA may be harmful to the adopting white parents since such parents may be subjected to prejudice, hostility or intrusiveness just for adopting intrusively. In addition, white parents who adopt transracially have to encounter a number of questions for adopting transracially. Such parents also have to regularly face the stigma of infertility, which is associated with adopting parents since they will not be able to hide that they are adopters. It is only in rare cases where fertile women and men consider adoption. Infertile couples will typically try many things before settling on adoption. These people also argue that black children have a lesser likelihood of bonding well with white parents, this is because, and they do not match biologically.

As a response to the argument that children find homes in TRA, opponents have posted arguments that if social workers recruited more black parents, all black children could find the same race parents. The Child Welfare League for instance claims that there are many black families who are more than willing to adopt children, they simply require to be sought out. There is a lesser likelihood of being existence adequate black adoptive parents in the near future. This is because many black families are mostly discouraged from adopting due to lack of support from the black community. Since on average, black families have lesser formal education and lower education, adoption requirements that hinge on education and income requirements disproportionately prevent Black families from qualifying in the program.

As a response to the psychological benefits which children acquire from the early knowledge that they are adopted, opponents of TRA argue that the obvious variation and difference between the child and her adapted parents may lead to other psychological issues. They argue that both the black and white community will deem black children as outcast. These opponents go on to articulate that allowing white parents to adopt black children can be considered as a racist judgment which is “confirming” that whites are better off at raising children than other types of parents. However, it should be noted that the need for TRA is based on the high number f white parents that want to adopt as well as the high number of black children who need placements. It would not be sound to favor TRA over the same race adoption; rather it should be simply used as an alternative of postponing placement for lack of same race parents.

There is also fears among the opponents of TRA that children adopted transracially may develop a feeling of being different and not accepted. They observe that such children cannot be able to create as well as maintain a good relationship with members of the extended family and grandparents and the child may not be able to relate to the members of the black community.

Some opponents have also come up with an idea that transracially adopted children would grow as teenagers, adolescents and adults without having a strong sense of their own racial identity. However, this point has lost weight since studies have pointed out that during adolescence or later as adults majority of tranracially adopted individuals are aware of and comfortable with their racial identity. Therefore, if the outcome for individuals who were transracially adopted were positive, then this argument can be considered a political one that individuals that are adopted transracially are in some “extent lost” constituents of a particular tribal, racist, partisan or nationalistic voting block.

In essence, opponents of transracial adoption base their assumptions on four reasons. The first is preserving the culture of American African families. The second reason is on enabling black children to appreciate their identity and origin by living with a family of similar race 3) Enabling black children to learn on how to cope with racism and how to function around it. Finally, this will also facilitate easier adapting of African American families.


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