Transracial Adoption (Glossary)

Transracial Adoptions: The adoption of a child from another race than the race of the parents.

Transracial adoption occurs more and more frequently because 1) there are fewer and fewer Caucasian infants available for adoption and 2) the barriers to transracial adoption have gradually been falling away. It is estimated that about 15 percent of US domestic adoptions are transracial.

There have always been opponents and proponents of transracial adoption. Opponents believe that a same-race family is in the best position to offer a child the richness of their cultural and racial heritage, and personal knowledge of what it is to grow up as a racial minority in a majority culture. Proponents say that a loving family that can meet the needs of a particular child is all that matters, and race should not be considered when selecting a family for a child. In fact, a 1995 study found that transracial adoption was not detrimental for the adoptee in terms of adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, and peer relationships, parental and adult relationships.

( Sharma, McGue, Benson, 1995)

In 1994, the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) passed both houses of Congress. The Act encourages transracial adoption by prohibiting the delay of an adoption based on racial issues. Read more about MEPA here.

If you are thinking about creating a transracial family, you should be sure that you have looked carefully at your own attitudes toward race and can be confident that you will be able to support your transracial child without reservation. That support should include honoring and embracing his or her cultural, racial, and ethnic heritage.

You must also think of the environment you will bring the child into, e.g., is your community integrated or will you introduce the first or one of the first different-race children into the local daycare or school? If so, be sure that you are prepared to deal with any of the issues that may arise.

Although the notion of transracial adoption can seem like one more complication in the already complex issue of adoption, transracial families will tell you that the rewards of becoming immersed in another culture with the added richness to your family life, makes transracial adoption a wonderful opportunity for growth and pleasure for the right families.