Putting the Pieces Together: The Significance of the Child’s Story

NCFA Releases Adoption Advocate No. 114 | Putting the Pieces Together: The Significance of the Child’s Story

Source: http://www.adoptioncouncil.org

One Merry Baby Christmas

Throughout a child’s life, they will have questions about their past, whether they were adopted through foster care, infant, intercountry, kinship, or transracial adoption. In the December issue of the Adoption Advocate, Debbie Wynne anticipates some of those common questions and poses ways in which adoptive parents can proactively and lovingly support those needs, build a safe and trusting relationship with their child, and provide healthy opportunities for their child to learn and grow.

Download the PDF of Adoption Advocate No. 114 or read the web version.


Research Study Participants Sought Regarding Transracial Adoption

16972215_s-sizedAs many of you know, NCFA is committed to, and passionate about, research regarding adoption.  Some of that research is assembled and published by NCFA, including our Adoption: By the Numbers, where they report the most comprehensive statistics on adoption in the United States.   In addition to the research they conduct, they also promote the research done by others to further our understanding of adoption and issues related to adoption.  Toward that end, NCFA is sending along information about a research project being conducted regarding transracial adoption and foster care.

A researcher at Florida State University is interested in connecting with parents who are fostering or have adopted transracially.  If you think this description is a good fit for your clients or network, please consider passing this information along to them.

Parents who are currently fostering or have adopted transracially are needed for a research study.  Interested participants will take a pre-course measure, be randomly assigned a treatment or control course, and then complete a post-course measure.  All participation in the study is completed online, and the fosterparentcollege.com course login id and password will be assigned to each participant by the researcher.  Participants will have 30 days to complete the course.  Total time to complete the surveys and course online takes 3 hours, and participants can come and go as they please.  Participants who complete the study will receive a $20 Visa gift card.  Interested participants should e-mail or contact Jordan Montgomery at jem14e@my.fsu.edu or 850-661-6454.


Ryan Hanlon, MA, MS, MSW
Vice President of Education, Research, and Constituent Services
National Council For Adoption

We Need Your Help With Research On Transracial Adoption & Bullying: Take The Survey Today!

Lonely Sad Girl by Dock and Water

Hello Families!

We encourage you to take advantage of the below opportunity to participate in this Northeastern State University research study regarding transracial adoption and bullying.  Consider sharing it with your social networks. As we all know, research on adoption is beneficial to understanding and serving children and families better.


“Dear Parents and Students,

I am conducting a research study to better understand the scope and effects of bullying on children (ages ranging from 9 to 16 years old) adopted into transracial families.  As a social work faculty member at Northeastern State University, I am interested in understanding this topic so that we can develop effective supports and interventions for children/adoptees who experience school bullying based on racial or ethnic differences.  I am requesting your participation because it will help us to do this.

Your participation is voluntary and your responses are anonymous.  If you will take about 30-40 minutes to complete our online survey, you will make an important contribution to this project that may lead to creating effective help for trans-racial adoptees who are facing school bullying.

Click here for the survey link.

If you wish to discuss the information above or concern you may have with this project, please do not hesitate to contact me, Eun-Jun Bang, Ph.D., MSW, at (918) 449-6564.  For questions about your rights while participating in this study, you may contact the Institutional Review Board at Northeastern State University at (918) 456-5511 ext 2965. Thank you so much for your attention and time.”

Race, Culture and Adoption Class Offered by Adoption Support Alliance

http://barnimages.com/“Race, Culture and Adoption” class offered by Adoption Support Alliance.  Saturday, March 11th from 1 – 3 pm at Christ Central Church/ 658 Center in Charlotte.  The cost is $50 per person and $60 per couple.  The course provides your family with 2 educational credit hours.

If your family is considering or has adopted transracially or transculturally, this is a wonderful opportunity.  Visit their webpage to register today!

To register visit www.adoptionsupportalliance.org

What Does It Mean To Be Black & Why Parents Should Care?

Source: http://creatingafamily.org

bfeec56c-c83e-4ce9-8317-a827f805272eThe guest on today’s Creating a Family show, Dr. Marlene Fine, related the following incident in a dialogue on race and ethnicity that she was facilitating. The participants were divided into groups of two and given an exercise to work through. Afterwards, a white participant paired with another white participant commented that race had not come up once in her group discussion. She concluded that race simply wasn’t and didn’t need to be a central element in most people’s lives. Dr. Fine turned to a black participant paired with another black man, who said they did talk about race when discussion the exercise. He went further to say that he thought about race every single day and talked about race every single day.

Read more.

10 Things Adult Trans-racial Adoptees Want You To Know

Source: http://creatingafamily.org


  1. Love your kids with your whole heart. Love may not be everything, but it is a great step in the right direction.
  2. Let your children know that you are always open to talking about adoption and race by bringing these topics up periodically. Look for opportunities in your everyday life where race or genetics or adoption comes up naturally.
  3. Every so often, check in with your child to see what they are experiencing with adoption and with transracial adoption. Don’t assume they will tell you on their own even if you are receptive to the conversation.
  4. It is easier if you adopt more than one child of color. Having someone else in the family of your race makes life easier.
  5. Hang out with other mixed race families. Your children need to see that there are other families that look like theirs. It is all the better if some of these families are also adoptive families.

Read more.

FIVE Facts We Must Teach Our Black Kids. Add your thoughts and ideas – share with us.

Source: http://creatingafamily.org


The real experts on adoption are the people who have lived the experience—adoptees. What do young adult transracial adoptees say are the most important things white parents must teach their black kids to keep them safe in this racial world we live in?

Whenever we hear a case such as the killing of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown (or the local cases of police violence against young black men that never make the national news) every parent of a black son wonders what they can do to make certain that their child doesn’t become a statistic. White parents of African American children have the added disadvantage of teaching their children about a situation they likely haven’t experienced.

For example, on a recent Creating a Family radio show on Interracial Adoptive Parenting: White Parents with Brown Children, the guest said many black parents know that in order to get their driver’s license their children, especially their sons, must not only know the basics of how to drive a car, change a tire, and avoid other crazy drivers, they must also understand what it means to DWB (Drive While Black). As parents they have the added responsibility of making sure their sons can control their temper and stay respectful and safe even in situations that seem/are very unfair.

On a Creating a Family show with a panel of young adult African American and Haitian American adoptees, I asked what their parents did to prepare them to live safely in today’s world and what they would recommend for this current generation of transracial adoptive parents and children. They gave the following five suggestions.

Read more.

Join Beth Hall for a Transracial Adoption Webinar on 1/13/15

Register now for a FREE Expert Q&A Webinar

Register for a webinar with adoption abd assisted reproduction attorney Peter J. WiernickiTransracial Adoption

with Beth Hall
January 13, 2015 @ 1 pm EST

How can you and your family prepare to become parents and relatives to a child of a different race? How do you talk about race and adoption as your child grows? How do you talk about racism and your child’s safety in a world that will see and make presumptions based on his or her skin color? If you adopted internationally, how do you balance and integrate birth culture exploration with discussion about your child’s everyday life as a hyphenated American? Beth Hall, co-author of Inside Transracial Adoption and founder of Pact, An Adoption Alliance, leads a discussion about parenting a child adopted transracially. Join us to ask your questions!

The Expert Q&A Webinar with Beth Hall: Transracial Adoption will take place on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 1pm to 2pm ET (12pm-1pm CT; 11am-12pm MT; 10am-11am PT).

Register for the Expert Q&A Webinar: The Hospital Experience in /surrogacy and Domestic Adoption

Don’t want to forget your question? Submit it in advance by posting a comment.
Can’t attend the webinar? We’ll post a recording here after the session.
Recordings are available FREE to Adoptive Families members. Non-members may purchase individual recordings, or join the site for full access and members’ benefits.

My Review of “The Child Catchers”

Source: creatingafamily.org

By Dawn Davenport

ChildCatchers-2131 I interviewed Kathryn Joyce, author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption on yesterday’s Creating a Family show. I’ve been doing the Creating a Family show weekly since 2007, and I seldom get nervous before an interview, but I was just a little nervous about this show.  I had strong feelings about this book, mostly negative. I always can find common ground with just about any guest, and I believe my job is to ask questions in such a way to show my thoughts, but allow them to express theirs. I had so many disagreements with this book, that I knew I needed to be careful about my tone. After all, anyone on the show is a “guest” and should be treated as such.  I think it went well, but you listen and tell me what you think. I touch on a few of my disagreements below.

Ethical Issues in International Adoption

I always appreciate a good discussion about the ethical issues in international adoption. I spend more time than I’d like to admit thinking about these things, and it is always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of who has also thought deeply about the issues. Although Kathryn did a good job of highlighting some of the issues, she dropped the ball, in my opinion, after she pointed them out. In her mind the ethical issues could be neatly piled at the feet of the orphan care movement, and that’s where her analysis stopped. In her view all the thorny problems of children being raised outside of their families would go away if we did away with international adoption.

Although international adoptions bring with them a host of problems, shutting down adoptions creates a host of other problems, not the least of which is what happens to the children. Do they go back to live with family? Do they grow up in institutional care? Do they end up on the streets or worse? Does international adoption have a place in international child welfare? Thoughtful minds can and do disagree, but Joyce didn’t even attempt to engage in the discussion.

Reliance on Anecdotal “Evidence”

As most of you know, I’m a research geek. I realize, honestly I do, that research doesn’t answer all questions, and that points can often be made more strongly through example than with statistics. Even I, the world’s greatest egghead, appreciate that a book needs to be interesting to be read. However, if you are writing about issues such as the prevalence of adoptions disrupting or the difficulties of transracial adoption, wouldn’t you think a brief mention of how adoptees and adoptions are faring as a whole would be helpful. Individual stories are great and make for better reading, but it helps to anchor them in reality.

Adoption is All Gloom and Doom

From my vantage point as an adoption educator, I truly see it all. I hear from unprepared families hitting the wall of reality with a thud once they bring their child home. Most of these families find their footing with education and support, but a few fall apart under the strain and fear.  I spend my work days thinking of ways to better educate and support people considering adoption so that they are able to decide if they should adopt, or if they should adopt this particular child. And once they have their child, Creating a Family tries to educate and support them to be better parents to that particular child with those particular needs. But I also see the amazing and happy success stories. These stories are hard not to see; in fact, I’d go so far as to say you would have to try very hard not to see them since most adoptive families are a success. Perfect—no; ultimately successful and satisfying to parents and kids—yes. In all of The Child Catcher, I don’t remember a single happy adoption story that got more than a passing mention.

Joyce said she wanted to show “the other side of adoption” since most media only cover the hearts and butterflies part. I’m not sure she’s right given the coverage of international adoption fraud and struggles, but I can appreciate someone seeking a more balanced coverage.  Doesn’t she, however, need to put the horror stories in perspective? Her portrayal was unbelievably one sided and bleak, and simply doesn’t reflect the reality of adoption that I see or that research supports.

An Agenda

It felt to me that Joyce went into this project with an agenda that she wanted to prove (the evangelical orphan care/adoption ministry is hurting children and adoptive families), and she included only the “evidence” that supported her position. She said in the Creating a Family interview that most journalists have a predetermined agenda, and that her book was not intended to be an even-handed assessment of adoption or religion’s place in encouraging adoption. Fair enough, I guess, but I ended up feeling that The Child Catchers bent so far in one direction that it was warped beyond usefulness. It’s a shame because a well rounded discussion about improvements to orphan care and adoption ministries would be welcomed.

I really encourage you to listen to the podcast. Although we disagreed on plenty, we did so in a respectful and productive way, which is a rarity in the world of talk radio.

Why We Need to Talk About Race in Adoption, Shared by Mary-Jean Gianquinto, LMSW

8881271685_e0641c51b3 Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.

Adoption has changed in the 32 years since a social worker told my parents “not to worry” about my ethnicity. Thanks to many transracial adoptees who have shared their experiences, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of racial and cultural identity. Numerous books have been written on the subject, and excellent blog posts abound. Transnational adoption has inspired documentary films such as First Person Plural, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, Wo Ai Ni Mommy, and Somewhere Between

While “colorblindness” in adoption has been widely challenged, however, not everyone is convinced – like the adoptive mother who recently told me, “I don’t see my son’s color. Race is just not an issue for us.”

Some people maintain that any cultural loss is unimportant compared to what children gain through adoption. But in both mainstream media and personal conversations about adoption, cultural and racial identity need not be pitted against a child’s right to love, safety, and security.

This unfortunate “either-or” framing of the issue finds frequent expression in discussions of transracial adoption. Michael Gerson—whose wife is a Korean adoptee—wrote in the Washington Post: “Ethnicity is an abstraction…. Every culture or race is outweighed when the life of a child is placed on the other side of the balance.” In a National Review article criticizing Kathryn Joyce’s book The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, adoptive father David French dismissed “the ‘culture’” (note the mocking quotation marks) of internationally adopted children as “the culture of starvation, of rags, of disease, and of abandonment.”

Another common framing of transracial adoption suggests that America’s “melting pot” has made race less relevant. In her NPR review of Somewhere Between, a documentary following four women adopted from China, adoptive mother Ella Taylor wrote: “[T]he film makes it seem that these girls’ lives are dominated by worry about who they are and whether they’ll be emotionally crippled by conflicting allegiances. Adopted or not, few of us develop our identities in the abstract – least of all today’s adolescents, who… are far more nonchalant about racial difference, let alone adoption, than we boomers can ever be.” But even if Taylor is raising her own daughter in “a polyglot world,” not all adopted youth feel “nonchalant” about adoption and racial identity—nor should indifference be presented as the ideal.

“There’s no one way to experience being adopted, or being a teenager, or being a woman of color,” says Linda Goldstein Knowlton, director/producer of Somewhere Between and the adoptive mother of a daughter from China.  “Being ‘race-blind’ – saying race doesn’t matter – could make a child feel as though an important part of her is being rejected.”

Some adoptive parents feel uncertain about how to discuss race with their own adopted children. Taiwanese adoptee Marijane Nguyen says that she doubts her parents were aware of how much she struggled with her identity. “They never asked,” she says. “Race in our household was never discussed. Because there weren’t many Asians in the community I grew up in, I always felt like I had some deficit because I wasn’t white.”

Louisville adoptive mother Amy Cubbage says that it is difficult to fully understand the challenges of transracial adoption until you are actually parenting. She and her husband recently transferred their six-year-old daughter to a more diverse school, and are now contemplating moving to a town with a larger Asian population. When they took their child to visit China for the first time since her adoption, Cubbage said, “We have never seen [our daughter] so at ease with herself… we underestimated her need to see where she’s from and see a place where everyone looks like her.”

Dr. Elizabeth Vonk, director of the MSW Program at the University of Georgia School of Social Work and an adoptive parent, leads a play therapy group for transracially adopted children. She notes that many parents find it easy and fun to introduce their children to their birth cultures, but may be less comfortable helping them explore their racial identity. “Racial socialization requires pushing beyond parents’ comfort zones to acknowledge racism, white privilege, and prejudice,” she told me. “I do still meet parents who are convinced that a colorblind approach is best. It is a belief system that makes positive racial identity development more difficult for their children.”

Even adoptees whose parents are willing to engage in meaningful discussions about race will inevitably have questions about their identity and needs their families might not be able to anticipate. Angela Tucker, an African American adoptee raised in a large, racially diverse family, credits her parents for taking her to African-American fashion shows and teaching her and her siblings about different cultures. Still, she said, she has struggled with knowing where she fits “within traditional Black culture,” a question that led her to search for her birth family. She and her husband recently secured the funding necessary to complete Closure, a documentary about Tucker’s adoption reunion.

We cannot have an honest discussion about transracial adoption if we aren’t willing to discuss race, prejudice, and privilege. Adoptees need to feel safe when we talk about the instances of racism we encounter. This may not sound easy—because it isn’t easy for white parents to raise children of color. But as the mother of two multiracial children, I can say that it’s not easy for parents of color, either.

Some people who plan to adopt across racial lines give me blank looks when I suggest that they closely examine their town, their neighborhood, their local schools, their social activities and community organizations before adopting outside their race. They bristle when I emphasize the importance of educating themselves about the persistence of inequality and the experiences of transracial adoptees and people of color living in this country. Sometimes they remind me that my experiences as a transracial adoptee aren’t universal—which is true—and therefore I don’t actually know what their adopted children will face.

Maybe I don’t, and I don’t know why adopted Asian kids stare at me. I just know why I used to stare.

Photo: The author, her mother, and their dog in 1983.

Source: http://bitchmagazine.org

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