Representing Transracial Adoptions

Written by

Lisa Wade, Ph.D.

In a 2007 national survey, 40% of children adopted by Americans, both domestically and internationally, were of a different race than their adoptive parents (source). Transracial adoptions are very common.  But who adopts who?  If you ask Google Images, white families adopt non-white children. Six of the images below appear to feature white parents with children of color:

Why in America do we associate transracial adoptions with white parents?

One reason might be simply numerical.  White people aren’t more likely to adopt – in fact, the population of adopters is less white (73%) than the general population (78%) – but only 39% of adoptees are white. So, when white people do adopt, there’s a decent chance that they’ll adopt a non-white baby. Compounding this, they may be more likely to adopt transnationally because whites as a group are more affluent and so may have the money necessary pay the expenses of an overseas adoption, traveling across the globe possibly multiple times.

I think, however, that we also associate transracial adoptions with white parents out of bias.  Many Americans are suspicious that minorities might not be “fit parents,” especially to a white child.  In this scenario, we value white children more than other children and imagine that they should be placed only with good/white parents. Or, conversely, we imagine that it is only children of color that need saving and only white people that save.

Read the full article written by Hannah Rau and Lisa Wade, PhD in The Society Pages

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