The Possible Risks of International Adoptions
One major component of studying families from a global perspective is the issue of international adoptions, and the decision adoptive parents have to make about assimilating their adopted child into their own culture, or preserving the child’s original culture. This can be a difficult choice for parents because it could possibly lead to a loss of cultural identity for the child in the future. Some parents are eager to assimilate their child into their own culture, while others are looking to find the balance between setting the child apart from the family culture and diminishing the original culture of the child. (Vonk).
Many advocates of adoption agencies prefer to place children with families of the same race for the sake of the child’s racial and cultural identity. Some organizations, such as the National Association of Black Social Workers opposed placing African children in homes of white American families. Their opposition stems from their belief that this mixture of races within the family will cause the child to have racial identity confusion or encounter racism or difficulty forming an ethnic identity. Many adoption agencies based in Africa have fear that the adoption of African children by American families will cause the child to lose the cultural and traditional values of their country of origin and take on an Americanized way of living (Roby).
Along with affecting their cultural identity, international adoption and the assimilation into a new culture influences the identity the child forms as a member of their new adoptive family. Many children have difficulty identifying or attaching to parents who appear and act differently than they do. In one study, almost one third of the children examined showed feelings of wanting to be white at a young age, and about one half of the children expressed the desire to have been born into their adoptive family. This may be due to the fact that they feel distant from their parents and other siblings because of their appearance, and have difficulty communicating their concern with their parents because they feel misunderstood or alone (Juffer).
The question to think about is : Are these challenges of preserving the child’s cultural identity while teaching him the skills he will need to thrive in an American community significant enough that possible adoptive parents should not adopt a child if he or she is of another race?
What services would be appropriate to carefully ease adopted children into a new culture without confusing the child about his or her ethnic or racial identity? Do you think these services are necessary for every adopted child?
What do you think adoptive families could do in order to make the child feel as much of a member of the family as a biological child?
Do you agree that interracial adoptions cause more risks for the child’s identity than same race adoptions? Are there equal risks?
Do you think the birth families should have a say in whether or not the adoptive family preserves the adopted child’s culture in the future?
Juffer, Femmie and Wendie Tieman. (2009) Being adopted: Internationally adopted children’s interests and feelings. International Social Work 52(5), 635-647. http://isw.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/52
M Elizabeth Vonk, Peggy J Simms, & Larry Nackerud. (1999). Political and personal aspects of intercountry adoption of Chinese children in the United States. Families in Society, 80(5), 496-505. Retrieved March 17, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 44580377).
Roby, Jini L., Shaw, Stacey A. (2006) The African Orphan Crisis and International Adoption. Social Work 51(3), 199-210. http://lesley.ezproxy.blackboard.com/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com /login.aspx?direct=true&db=sih&AN=22702483&site=ehost-live
This post was presented by: Annika Ecklund, Carolyn Kaufman, Sally Pitcher, Stephanie Vassillion, Karl Daruwala, Elissa May