Associations of adoption, sexual minority parent, and racial-ethnic identity with children’s outcomes and understanding of identity
How does identity-based socialization occur in diverse families? What forms of socialization have not yet been explored? Further, how does socialization influence children’s outcomes and their understanding of identity? Here we investigate adoptive communicative openness (ACO), sexual minority parent socialization (SMPS) and racial-ethnic socialization among a sample (n = 96) of lesbian, gay, and heterosexual (LGH) adoptive families with school-age children (Mage = 8, SD = 1.66 years old). We extend these findings to determine whether identity-based (i.e., adoption, sexual minority, or racial-ethnic) socialization influences children’s outcomes such as global self-worth and children’s sense of belonging (attachment). Finally, we present results on how ACO impacts children’s understanding of adoption (CUA). This work utilized a mixed-methods approach through interviews and self-report measures that have been previously used in developmental psychology broadly (e.g., Inventory of parent and peer attachment, Harter’s scale of self-perception) and previous longitudinal adoption studies (e.g., NSAP racial-cultural socialization, ACO codebook, children’s understanding of adoption scale) in addition to the relatively new SMPS measure. Approximately half of the LGH adoptive parents transracially adopted (80% of parents were White, 40% of children were White) typically represented by White parents adopting Black children. All children were adopted as infants in the United States through private domestic adoption.
Hierarchical linear modeling analyses suggest that parents who completed transracial adoptions engaged in ACO at lower rates than parents who completed same-race adoptions. Parents who completed transracial adoptions also engaged in greater levels of racial-ethnic socialization compared to parents who did not complete transracial adoptions. Parent race (i.e., White parents versus parents of color) did not predict differences in identity-based socialization (i.e., ACO, SMPS, racial-ethnic). No type of identity-based socialization practices was predictive of children’s global self-worth or sense of belonging. Additionally, CUA was predicted by age, sex, and transracial adoption status but not parent ACO. Children’s understanding of SMPS was only predicted by age. Results suggest that parents may differentially use each identity-based socialization rather than an overall increase in socialization. Further, research on CUA suggests that age is the major predictor of understanding adoption. Here we find that sex and transracial adoption status also contribute to this knowledge. Differences in identity-based socialization practices, descriptive information on an understudied construct, SMPS, and children’s understanding of adoption will be discussed. These findings have implications by providing additional perspective on who is engaging in adoption and how parents talk with their children in an everchanging climate of adoption policy.