Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda; Columbia University Press, New York; 2000
This book begins with an overview of the history of transracial adoption. The authors discuss the research that has been done on the issue as well as the debate surrounding the practice in the United States. This serves as the introduction to twenty-four interviews with African-American and multi-racial adults who were adopted by White parents, most as babies or young children.
The interviewees, now mostly in their twenties, have had diverse experiences in their adoptive families, some growing up in isolated areas with few African-American role models and others in multiracial families and/or communities. The interviews are rich with personal and specific experiences, giving the reader insight into the day-to-day life of transracial adoption. Not all of the responses are easy to read, as an adoptive parent, but much of it is enlightening and up-lifting. The young people have amazing insight and awareness about their parents’ efforts to raise them and none doubt their parents’ intentions or their love. The take home lesson for adoptive parents is the importance of honoring a child’s ethnic and racial heritage, and giving them plenty of options to explore and experience it.
Academics, social workers and adoption agencies can debate transracial adoption all they want, but what really matters is how the adopted people themselves feel about it. I hope that there will be more work like that of Simon and Roorda in order to spread the truth about this issue, and that it will include the experiences of adopted people of other ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Considering the on-going debate around transracial adoption, my overriding question, and I imagine that of many others was: In hindsight, are the adult adopted people for or against transracial adoption? The answer, as you might expect, is more complex than “yes” or “no.” If this question is important to you, then I would recommend reading the book in order to gain the full richness of the answer. I will tell you this, though, as an adoptive parent, I felt encouraged by their opinions.
– Debbie Kaufman