Monday, January 4, 2010

Are Lesbian Couples More Open to Transracial Adoption Than Heterosexual Couples?

That's the question for this 2009 study, Lesbian and Heterosexual Preadoptive Couples’ Openness to Transracial Adoption , reported in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. The study uses data from 147 White preadoptive couples (54 lesbian, 93 heterosexual) to examine their openness to transracial adoption, and their explanations for why they were or were not willing to adopt transracially.

Reviewing earlier studies, the author suggests (internal citations removed):
From a symbolic interactionist perspective, sexual orientation is a key social location that may impact how preadoptive parents construct the possibility of adopting transracially. That is, from a symbolic interactionist perspective, lesbians’ stigmatized minority status and membership in the gay community expose them to
certain experiences, values, and norms that may shape their behavior in significant ways. In this way, lesbians’ marginalized status, vulnerability to practical barriers in
the adoption process, and the social accessibility of adoption (via increasingly visible gay adoptive communities) may lead them to approach transracial adoption with greater willingness than heterosexuals. U.S. Census data suggest that lesbians are significantly more likely to have adopted internationally than heterosexual couples, a finding that may reflect women’s efforts to avoid heterosexism and discrimination in
domestic adoption, or, alternatively, genuine interest in transracial or transcultural adoption. In support of the latter possibility, Bennett studied 15 lesbian couples who adopted internationally and found that many women described themselves as being
drawn to the idea of building multiracial and multicultural families. She suggested that women’s experiences as stigmatized individuals might make them more open to adopting a different-race child.
The data gathered in the study supports this hypothesis -- 91% of lesbian adopters and 68% of heterosexual adopters indicated that they were open to adopting a child of color.

Another finding reported about couples who differed among themselves in their openness to transracial adoption:
Ultimately, however, the decision of whether to adopt a child of a different race is a couple decision; thus, all couples in which one partner was not open ultimately decided that they would limit their search to White children. This finding has implications for practitioners, whose goal should be to assist couples in communicating about and resolving their differences early in the adoption process.
Notably, heterosexual couples tended to differ more in their perspectives on openness than lesbians. Perhaps lesbian couples are more likely to endorse similar perspectives because they have engaged in more discussion about their feelings and concerns about transracial adoption, leading them to find common ground. Some scholars suggest that lesbians are more communicative in part because of their common socialization as women; consistent with this, some studies have found higher levels of emotional intimacy in lesbians’ relationships than heterosexuals.’

The entire study is worth a read, especially because of the explanations given for why couples were open or not open to transracial adoption. Because the couples were interviewed with open-ended questions, the reported narratives are especially interesting.

Thanks to kantmakm at adopttalkcanada forum for the link, which fulfills my continual geeky need for MORE DATA MORE MORE MORE DATA about adoption!

1 comment:

LilySea said...

Here's what I think: if more lesbians have adopted across race or culture it has more to do with discrimination against same-sex adoption than openness of same-sex couples. In our case, in researching the types of adoption available to us as out lesbians who wanted to co-adopt (rather than only one being a legal parent), domestic, transracial adoption was pretty much our only viable option. (You can adopt internationally as a "single" woman but you must conceal your sexual orientation at some point in the process and we preferred not to, given a choice.)

The least desirable kids in the adoption economy get the least desirable parents in the adoption economy. Hence, single parents of either sex and any sexual orientation and same-sex couples are much more likely to end up with older kids, kids with foster histories, kids with special needs, non-white kids etc.

Ha! More of us for each other, I say.