The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute just released a report that:

is the broadest, most extensive examination of adult adoptive identity to date, based on input from the primary experts on the subject: adults who were adopted as children. (emphasis mine)

FINALLY! Adoptees are officially recognized as experts on their own experiences (in contrast to their experiences being filtered and interpreted through adoptive parents, social workers, etc.)

Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption

  • Authors: Hollee McGinnis, Susan Livingston Smith, Dr. Scott D. Ryan, and Dr. Jeanne A. Howard
  • Published: 2009 November. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

Central Findings:

  • Adoption is an increasingly significant aspect of identity for adopted people as they age, and remains so even when they are adults.
  • Race/ethnicity is an increasingly significant aspect of identity for those adopted across color and culture.
  • Coping with discrimination is an important aspect of coming to terms with racial/ethnic identity for adoptees of color.
  • Discrimination based on adoption is a reality, but more so for White adoptees – who also report being somewhat less comfortable with their adoptive identity as adults than their Korean counterparts.
  • Most transracial adoptees considered themselves White or wanted to be White as children.
  • Positive racial/ethnic identity development is most effectively facilitated by “lived” experiences such as travel to native country, racially diverse schools, and role models from their same race/ethnicit
  • Contact with birth relatives, according to the White respondents, is the most helpful factor in achieving a positive adoptive identity.
  • Different factors predict comfort with adoptive and racial/ethnic identity for Korean and White adoptees.

Principle Recommendations:

  • Expand parental preparation and post-placement support for those adopting across race and culture.
  • Develop empirically based practices and resources to prepare transracially and transculturally adopted youth to cope with racial bias.
  • Promote laws, policies and practices that facilitate access to information for adopted individuals.
  • Educate parents, teacher, practitioners, the media and others about the realities of adoption to erase stigmas and stereotypes, minimize adoption-related discrimination, and provide children with more opportunities for positive development.
  • Increase research on the risk and protective factors that shape the adjustment of adoptees, especially those adopted transracially/culturally in the U.S. or abroad.

Read the report here.