It's common for adopted children to grapple with questions about where they come from and how they fit into their new family. But those questions can be particularly hard to navigate when adoptive parents and children don't look alike.FINALLY! A mainstream media outlet that actually has a transracial adoptee on the show to talk about transracial adoptees! And Neal Conan actually solicits callers who were transracially adopted!
Today, approximately 40 percent of adoptions in America are transracial — and that number is growing. In decades past, many American parents of transracial adoptions simply rejected racial categories, raising their children as though racial distinctions didn't matter.
"Social workers used to tell parents, 'You just raise your child as though you gave birth to her,'" Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, tells NPR's Neal Conan. "An extreme majority of transracially adopted kids ... grew up wishing they were white or thinking they were white, not wanting to look in mirrors."
Pertman's organization has conducted extensive research on transracial adoption in America. He says turning a blind eye to race wasn't good for anybody. "We don't live in a colorblind society," he says.
University of Chicago professor Gina Samuels — who is multiracial and was raised by a white family — has also researched the experiences of children of color who were raised by Caucasian parents. She tells Conan that parents who take a colorblind approach to raising their children often do so with the best of intentions.
"[It] reflects maybe how they hope the world will be someday," Samuels says. "But oftentimes what this ends up doing is having children [meet] the world — the real world — unprepared."
This is really unusual, which you know if you listen to media reports about adoption. When I hear most panels put together to talk about adoption I'm reminded of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, where she discovers in the card catalog at the library that the only qualification for writing about women was to be a man!