MON July 9, 2018 MON July 9, 2018
1:30 pm 1:30 pm
Cartier I Cartier I

Jaegoo Lee

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Jackson State University

Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Nevada

Elizabeth Raleigh

Associate Professor of Sociology, Carleton College

Paper session: Transracial adoption

A path analysis of a cultural and racial socialization model in international transracial adoption: racial awareness, self-efficacy, and socialization practices

Background. Research has shown that international transracial adoptive (ITRA) parents actively engage their adoptees in cultural activities related to the adoptees’ birth culture. However, some parents are less aware of the importance of racial socialization practices for their adoptees. As the importance of such parenting practices in ITRA adoptees’ ethnic identity formation has been proved, researchers have explored factors that may increase such socialization practices. Post adoption education/training have been revealed as factors that enhance adoptive parents’ racial awareness and practices in cultural and racial socialization, but little empirical research has examined the role of racial awareness and self-efficacy in a socialization model. Thus, the purpose of this study was to test a conceptual model using path analysis to examine direct and indirect relationships among factors contributing to ITRA parents’ cultural and racial socialization practices.

Methods. This study used a cross-sectional, online survey design. A convenience sample was recruited through parenting support groups across the United States from January to March 2012. A total of 310 cases were included. The majority of the participants (90%) were White mothers of Chinese children. The average age was 48.30 years (SD = 7.10). Two major measures were included: 1) the 47-Transracial Adoption Parenting Scale – Revised to assess racial awareness and cultural and racial socialization practices, and 2) the 10-item Socialization Self-Efficacy Scale to assess motivation and beliefs regarding their ability to raise children from a different race and culture. Using Mplus, the path analysis tested a structural model of observed variables using a single indicator technique. The following fit indices for the model were examined: χ2(11) = 20.05 (p = .05), RMSEA = .05, SRMR = .04, CFI = .98, and TLI = .96, which suggested a reasonably good fit of the model.

Results. Results suggested that racial awareness is a core factor that directly influences racial socialization practices. Socialization self-efficacy was proved to be a mediating variable in the path between racial awareness and cultural socialization practices as well as in the path between racial awareness and racial socialization practices. Post-adoption training or knowledge and skills obtained from support groups are likely to increase racial awareness and racial socialization practices.

Implications. The most important factor is racial awareness, which results from post-adoption training or a parenting support group. Researchers may be interested in further examination of the cultural and racial socialization model to address the parenting needs of ITRA parents, and ultimately to support the healthy ethnic and racial identity formation of transracial adoptees.

Imag(ining) Self in In-race Adoption For Asian Children

The question of race in adoption has been often sociopolitically charged as children from Central and South America, Asia, and AFrica have been placed into mostly white homes in the U.S. and Europe. Scholars have sought to explore the impact of transracial/transcultural intercountry adoption on children. There is much less research on in-race intercountry adoption. This paper seeks to address a gap in the literature.

A non-random convenience sample of sixty-eight Asian/Asian American families participated in a study that explored in-race adoption. The study was a mixed method design utilizing both survey and in-depth semi-structured interviews with a subgroup of 29 participants. Adoptive parents were asked “Do you think that it is different/better for Asian parents to adopt children?” This paper focuses specifically on the ways in which parents and, presumably their children, will see their own image in each other and the ways in which parents imagine that race may or may not be a protective factor.

The parents overwhelmingly asserted their belief that in-race adoption serves as a protective factor for their children. Matters of identity and culture were cited as important, however parents also found that in-race adoption increased the ability for their children to feel “normal” as their adoptive status is invisible. Some of the families were interethnic, when the birth heritage of the parents and children were different the families had to navigate ways to integrate the multiple identities.

This study contributes uniquely to the literature because if provides a rich insight into the lived experiences of Asian/Asian American adoptive families and the the ways in which race is considered.

Implications of Selling Transracial Adoption

This presentation addresses two questions: How do private adoption workers sell the idea of transracial adoption to white prospective adoptive parents? What can these market strategies tell us about racial hierarchies and the meaning of family?
Data are from qualitative interviews with 25 private adoption workers and observations from 40 adoption information sessions.

I present two connected arguments related to the role of transracial adoption and the racial hierarchy. The adoptions of relatively-healthy, light-skinned Asian and Latin American babies and toddlers without known ties to biological family used to be the mainstay of intercountry adoptions. Some adoption workers went as far to describe these placements as “white bread” and “less of a transracial adoption.” However, as sending countries limited the number of referrals and tightened restrictions, there were fewer of these desired infants to go around.

In order to meet demand for younger children, adoption workers expanded operations into Ethiopia and domestic adoption – two segments that disproportionately placed black children. According to the social workers I interviewed, these placements generated deeper anxieties about transracial placements, suggesting that the American color line is moving toward a black/non-black divide. For example, one social worker reflected that these adoptions brought up “new issues of race in terms of finding the right families,” and another said that Ethiopian placements elevated race to “a very full presence.” Despite providers’ concerns that some of the parents they approved did not fully understand the implications of adopting transracially, workers moved these applications forward, acquiescing, “does it sink in? Probably not. You would hope.”

The strategies that adoption workers employ have important implications for child well-being, especially in a down market where workers were concerned about staying afloat. One interviewee succinctly summed up her dilemma stating, “we need babies so we can make money, which is a horrible way to look at it, but that’s the reality of how you keep your doors open in adoption.” As the racial makeup of children changed, adoption workers found themselves in new territory. Adapting to these constraints, some rationalized charging white parents less money to adopt black children than white children. Others bent to white parents’ preferences for lighter skin children, allowing white parents to specify that they will only adopt a biracial (part-white) black child.

Paradoxically, the very institutions that permit racialized preferences are the same ones charged with training parents. Respondents lamented that “we just don’t have time to do it all.” None felt that they could turn down an applicant based on these concerns. One describes this capitulation, rhetorically asking and answering, “Do I think every one of the parents I work with totally get it and are going to be fabulous transracial families? No I don’t.”