Interracial, or transracial, adoption continues to be a controversial issue. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, approximately 28% of adoptions are interracial, typically with white families adopting African-American or Asian children. While in recent years interracial adoptions have been more and more common among celebrities, with white stars such as Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock, Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt—and of course Madonna—adopting African or African-American children, challenges continue to exist for adopted children and their parents when their backgrounds differ.
Many of the major concerns in interracial adoptions deal with the cultural differences between the adoptive parents and the adopted child and the difficulties that may arise, particularly for the child.
Extended Identity vs Loss of Cultural Identity
According to adoption expert Andrew Morrison, African-American children who are adopted by white parents may include both African-American and white culture in their identities. This duality has the benefit of helping them feel comfortable in a wide variety of situations. However, it has also been shown that children adopted out of their culture may lose touch with their roots. In many cases, it is likely for them to feel like an outsider in the world in which they’ve grown up, in addition to feeling removed from their own ethnic group. It is worth noting that studies have shown that this feeling of alienation can be avoided when parents involve their children in activities that connect them with their background. Yet, sometimes this may still not be enough if the adoptee grows up without role models or relationships with other individuals who share his or her background, as these relationships are critical in helping a child create their own personal identity and a true feeling of connectedness with their own culture.
Stronger Family Relationships vs Lack of Family Acceptance
The fact that a family with adopted children is built on relationships rather than biology may help children feel more connected to their parents and siblings and therefore more secure in who they are. However, problems can arise when extended families are not fully supportive of interracial adoption, with relatives possibly expressing negative views about the child, or even suggesting that the child doesn’t belong in the family.