Transracial Adoptees

The rewards and challenges of searching for their birth families

Authored by: Danielle Godon-Decoteau , Patricia Ramsey

The Routledge Handbook Of Adoption

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138362505
eBook ISBN: 9780429432040
Adobe ISBN:


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Many adoptees experience similar motivations, phases, and challenges when they consider searching for their birth parents; however, searching and reunions might be particularly pressing yet problematic for transracial adoptees (TRAs), many of whom grow up in predominantly White communities and experience racism and racial isolation. In addition to motivations common to all adoptees, TRAs might view searching and birth family contact as a way to explore and develop their racial and ethnic identities. Yet, locating and connecting with birth families is more complicated for many TRAs, especially those who are adopted internationally. This chapter reviews research about the experiences of TRAs who search for their birth families. It describes factors that motivate TRAs to search, specific strategies used by TRAs who are actively searching, and the experiences of TRAs whose searches result in reunions and potential ongoing contacts. Despite common elements in search and reunion experiences of TRAs, it is emphasized that each adoptee is on a unique journey, and some might have no interest in searching. To meaningfully support their clients’ explorations and decisions about searching and contacting birth parents, practitioners must understand the sociocultural context of TRAs’ lives as well as their individual experiences and perspectives.

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