School for Social Work
This study explored how transracial adoptees perceive their racial identity and the role that parents play in identity development. In particular, people who participated in this study were asked to reflect on the messages they received about their racial/ethnic identity and how racism may have played into these messages. Interviews were conducted with 12 transracial adoptees who were over the age of 18 at the time of the study. Participants were asked questions about the diversity of the neighborhoods in which they grew up; how their parents recognized their race/ethnicity; how their parents contributed to their racial identity development; how racism influenced their development; if they felt their parents had prepared them for racism; and how their racial/ethnic identity fits into how they identify themselves currently. The findings illustrate that many parents related to this sample seemed to emphasize similarities between themselves and their adopted children more often than acknowledge their differences. It is noteworthy, however, that some of the sample members' parents did offer assistance in the way of food, books, or dolls to help their children learn about their race/ethnicity, none of them chose to live in diverse neighborhoods. Findings also show that the majority of the participants did not feel that their parents prepared them to deal with racism. Findings from the study further suggest that social workers must support and encourage people who adopt transracially to explore their own identity, as well as that of their prospective adoptive child to become more in tune with differences and their potential implications. Finally, the findings suggest that living in a diverse neighborhood and having frequent contact with people who are of the similar race or ethnicity of the adopted child could aid in the development of a healthy racial identity.
McCully, Kristen Denise, "The space between : transracial adoptee's racial identity and the role parents play in identity development" (2007). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.