For many adoptive parents, adoption has never been about finding a child who looks like them. Instead, it’s a family-building process that adds a child in need of a home to a family who will love and support them, no matter what they look like.
Today, this is truer than ever. A recent study from the Institute of Family Studies reveals that transracial adoptions have increased by 50 percent over the last decade. Specifically, the proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group has increased 50 percent between 1999 and 2011 — a great step in the right direction for U.S. adoptions.
- 90 percent of Asian adoptees
- 64 percent of multiracial adoptees
- 62 percent of Hispanic adoptees
- 55 percent of black adoptees
In total, about 44 percent of adopted kindergartners were being raised by adoptive parents of a different race or ethnicity — a number that many expect to continue growing as the United States becomes more multicultural than ever.
Why These Results are Important
Transracial adoption has always had a complicated history. When adoption was less common back in the middle of the 20th century, prospective adoptive parents were much less likely to adopt a child of a different race, due to stigma and inaccurate understandings of what it takes to raise a child of a different race. In fact, the first recorded transracial adoption didn’t even occur until 1948.
For many years afterward, adoption agencies only recommended “race-matching” with adoptive parents — that is, same-race placement of adopted children. Those against transracial adoption argued that parents of a different race could not raise a child with a certain racial and cultural heritage, as it would lead to confusion and “unnatural” relationships.
Thankfully, popular opinion of transracial adoptions has changed dramatically since then. This new study highlights the modern view of transracial adoption today — as a beautiful way to build a family, no matter what races and cultures the family includes. With proper preparation, education and dedication, any adoptive parent can successfully raise a child of a different race with accurate knowledge of their cultural and racial heritage.
However, despite the positive view of transracial adoption among many, there are still challenges that will occur in any kind of multiracial or transracial adoption. We’re in a new age of complicated race relations, and not all Americans are comfortable with the idea of transracial adoptions and multiracial families. One only has to look at the violence in Charlottesville to see that racism still exists in the U.S. The challenges of adopting children of African-American or other multiracial descent and raising them in this kind of society likely have turned certain prospective adoptive parents away from this path.
But, as this study shows, there are still plenty of prospective adoptive parents who are embracing the opportunity to adopt a child of a different race, as well as all any unique challenges this process may bring.