In my last post, I discussed a topic that sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable. Racism and discrimination do not typically make for casual dinner conversation, but are relevant issues and frequently not brought out into the open unless something tragic happens. I mentioned in my last post that many adoptees in the U.S. adopted through international adoption by parents of the dominant culture are often subjected to racism and discrimination. I am not generalizing – every adoptee experiences life differently and there are adoptees who may not have experienced racism or discrimination. In any case, it’s a subject that interests me greatly because I know how damaging the effects of racism and discrimination can be. Sometimes it takes years for someone to recognize that they have been discriminated against or to even understand what that means. If anything, I want to bring greater awareness to this issue in hopes that adoption service providers will provide pre- and post cultural education and training for adoptive families beyond what is currently offered.
I chose to investigate this subject for my master’s thesis in social work. Over the past two months, I have sent letters and announcements to numerous adoption agencies, primarily in Arizona, but also California and Oregon. I have contacted adult adoptee groups on social media platforms and reached out to friends who may know of families with adopted children. I continue to search for adoptees 18+ years of age who were adopted from another country to the U.S. by parents of a different race/ethnicity to participate in the study. Participation includes an in-person interview. In the interview, I talk with adoptees about their background, experiences with family, peers, and their community. We discuss incidents that the adoptee has experienced related to racism, racial discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping. My hope is to interview at least ten adoptees for my study. So far, I’ve conducted
four five interviews. The interviews are about 1.5-2 hours in length and are conducted in a location that ensures privacy, i.e, a study room at a local library. Participants are informed that the interviews are confidential and no identifying information will be revealed in the study.
How international and transracial adoptees personally cope with racism and discrimination is not an area that is well understood in the literature. It is hoped that this research will produce data that will inform the development of preventive interventions for international adoptees and their families that will eradicate the effects of racism and discrimination and promote their well-being. I hope that the study will also prompt further investigation into this particular area. If you know of an adoptee or are an adoptee who resides in Arizona and might be interested in participating in this study, please pass along the above information. I can be contacted privately at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more about the study or would like to schedule an interview. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!
Why care? I believe that this is such an important issue for adoptive families and adoptees. I know that one research study will not change the world. However, it’s my belief that adoptive families and adoptees who are better equipped to face racism and discrimination, are given specific tools, will be happier and healthier.