Simon, Rita J, Altstein, Howard, Melli, Marygold S. THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION (The American University Press, 1994)

Paul G Beeman <pgbeema@.ILSTU.EDU> Review: THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION (Beeman)
robert joseph nuckolls <bjnuckol@.ILSTU.EDU> The Case For Transracial Adoption
Sarah Elizabeth Niziolek <senizio@.ILSTU.EDU> Simon, Case for TRA (Niziolek)
robert joseph nuckolls <bjnuckol@.ILSTU.EDU> Re: Review: THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION (Beeman)
Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@.ILSTU.EDU> Review; The Mask of Benevolence, (Taverna)
Jaime Schmitt <jnschmi@ILSTU.EDU>No Subject
Paul Herrick Peterson <>[Fwd: The case for Transracial adoption]
Amy Smith <amsmith4@ILSTU.EDU>Review of the Case for transracial Adoption
Deidre Meyers <dlmeyer_98@YAHOO.COM>Review of The Case for Transracial Adoption
Amalia Monroe <almonro@ILSTU.EDU>Review of The Case for Transracial Adoption
shelly spencer <sjspenc@ILSTU.EDU>Transracial Adoption

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 19:39:23 -0600
From: Paul G Beeman <pgbeema@.ILSTU.EDU>

Reviewed by Paul G. Beeman

Driving down the main street to the American Embassy in Nairobi Kenya, I was warned by my driver "to put my arm back in the van" because one of the many street children loitering in the area would steal my watch. He began telling me about how these "street children" steal not for food, but to buy glue to sniff, and how it was every citizens duty to participate in beating these children if caught stealing. It was the police who often saved the lives of these children from vigilante citizens who often beat them to death or if time permitted, would force a tire around the young thief and light them on fire. I thought about this while playing in a diplomatic softball tournament in Swaziland where I met a White American Missionary who adopted a native (black) infant. I thought to myself that this child was saved from the horror of being abandoned in the streets of an African city, and would experience a fruitful life in the good ol' United States of America. That was my case for Transracial adoption.

THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION, argued by Rita J. Simon, Howard Altstein, and Marygold S. Meli illustrates the findings of a group of professors who studied the impact of the adoption of "nonwhite" children by white families. It is a book filled with statistics, laws governing transracial adoption, and explanations of the methodology of the study. Although one can become tired sifting through all of the empirical data presented in the book, the basic argument boils down to the welfare of children.

The presented argument in this study is based on the number of children in need of families, versus the availability of "same race" parents. There are very few white children available for adoption by white families, and many minority children. State governments insist that when placing children with potential parents, the interests of the children are the paramount requirement. 

The government insists that every possible effort be taken to place a child "where they can most easily become a normal family member in a place where the adoptive parents could have actually parented the child. This is the ultimate objective of federal adoption laws. In most cases, race is not considered when placing children with one exception Native Americans. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was the result of large adoption rates of Native American children and "designed to prevent the decimation of Indian tribes and the breakdown of Indian families by transracial placement. "The law makes it almost impossible for non-Native Americans to adopt Native American children". This law essentially safeguards Native American culture by keeping families and tribes together within their native environments".

Following suit in 1974, the National Association of Black Social Workers organized to stop the adoption of black children by white families. Their argument, cited in THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION and published a document entitled "PRESERVING BLACK FAMILIES Research and Action Beyond the Rhetoric", seeks to establish laws preventing Black Children from being adopted by anyone but Black families. NABSW argues "The United States is a racist society"; White families, even with the best intentions, cannot teach children how to cope in such a society". They contend that white parents rearing Black children will leave them psychologically defenseless, incapable of dealing with or understanding the racism that exists in our society. NABSW view transracial adoption as a hostile act against Blacks. 

They propose that "institutional racism" found in adoption agencies is an "insidious scheme for depriving the black community of its most valuable future resource its children". They argue that adoption agencies, staffed by mostly white social workers, do not put forth enough effort in locating families for parentless Black children. "The adoption system in this country was established to provide white children with white families. As a result, most people who work in the system know very little about black culture or the black community".

The NABSW took this issue before a Senate committee and maintained their stance that Black children should only be placed with black families, whether in foster care or for adoption. They claimed to have "an ethnic, moral, and professional obligation to oppose transracial adoption, and are therefor legally justified in their efforts to protect the right of Black children, black families, and the black community. The NABSW insist transracial adoption is a blatant form of racial and cultural genocide. They claim Black children will become isolated and not be able to identify with blacks or whites. They will have limited experience or contact with the black community, and live in a white society that does not fully accept them. 

Ultimately, their argument seems to point to the fact that Black children are better off not integrating with white families. What they advocate is to extinguish preexisting qualifications for potential adoptive parents because they are based on white "middle class standards" that disqualify black families from adopting children. These arguments captured in the Simon, Alstien, and Melli chapter "the case against transracial adoption" set the stage for these authors to make a case for transracial adoption, which they do convincingly throughout the rest of the book.

Simon, Altstein, and Melli claim the case made by the NABSW is based on "ideology and rhetoric". While They agree the best interest of a child is with families who are racially identifiable, they insist the many accusations made by the NABSW with regard to transracial adoption are unfounded and provide no evidence of their claims. This is not a tough pill to swallow considering that these authors conducted a twenty year study of both transracially adopted children and their parents.

The authors conducted interviews with 96 families with 396 children over a period of twenty years. At different periods in time, the parents and adopted children were asked a series of questions about the relationships with in the family. These questions were asked of all adoptees. Among these 89 black adoptees (as well as many other "nonwhite" transracial adoptees) that were adopted by white families. 

The responses to their studies were compared and the authors found that transracially adopted children "do not lose their identities, they do not to be racially unaware of who they are, and they do not display negative or indifferent racial attitudes about themselves". The authors found in their study that all of the parents surveyed in their study were outraged by the stance taken by the NABSW. "Almost all of the parents thought that the position taken by this group was contrary to the best interest of the child and smacked of racism. They were angered by the accusations of the NABSW that white parents could not rear black children, and they felt betrayed by groups whose support they expected they would have".

These parents held that race should not be an issue for deciding a child's placement. "in their willingness to adopt, they were acting in the best interest of a homeless, neglected, unwanted child. Perhaps what is most compelling are the comments made by Black transracial adoptees about the position of the NABSW. One adoptee commented "it's a crock-it's just ridiculous. They (the NABSW) should be happy to get families to children-period". What the authors data points to is a powerful case that transracial adoption should indeed be an alternative to place children with what inevitably would be in their "best interest".

THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION seems to be a retaliation to the "rhetoric" of the Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) about the adoption of black children by white families. Throughout their study, these authors hold highly the best interest of children seeking families. They maintain objectivity and hold many of the same ideas with regard to transracial adoption as the NABSW. Never do they say that that transracial adoption is the ideal method for placing children, and their study provides no evidence that the children would be better off if they were. The authors firmly believe that children should be placed with racially identifiable parents. Because there are not enough qualified adoptive parents, children should not be made to remain institutionalized until racial matches can be made.

These authors maintain that efforts should be increased to locate minority families and especially black families for these children. What this study finds for all those adamantly opposed to the fate of those children not adopted by racially identifiable families is that transracially adopted children are not ostracized by society or their adopted families. Their research shows transracially adopted children grow up emotionally and socially adjusted, and aware and comfortable with their racial identity. What they protest is the idea that minority children may be regulated to years of foster care or institutionalized living, when loving families would welcome them into their homes. Minority children should not be deprived of a stable and caring family life simply on the basis of their race.

Because of the outcry of the NABSW, transracial adoption has taken a nosedive. "From 1968-1795, approximately 12,000 black children were placed with white families". The 1990 report based on 1987 statistics shows black children placed in white homes "accounted for no more than one percent of all US adoptions. In light of this, 1988 statistics show there were "2,600 children waiting to be adopted in Illinois. Forty eight percent of these children were minorities, and there were 1,183 parents waiting to adopt". These numbers indicate that large numbers of potential parents and children maybe denied the dream of wallowing in love and relationships. I wonder what would have come of that young native infant in a country such as Swaziland if the NABSW were to accomplish a prohibition on the adoption of Black children. Would she be the next "victim" of vigilante mob action and left to die with a burning tire around her body?

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Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 01:41:44 -0600
From: robert joseph nuckolls <bjnuckol@.ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: The Case For Transracial Adoption


The United States has become a "melting pot" of different races and cultures. The issues of race and culture has become important and significant in just about any matter of relevance. Race and culture has become significant in the institutions of employment, schools, and religion just to name a few. Perhaps, due to this "melting pot" effect, there have been many arguments and conflicts about the issues of race and culture. Almost any person of any race, believes their respective culture is important, and something they must continually cherish, develop, foster, nurture, and take pride in.

Because of one's high beliefs or opinions of their respective culture or race, their culture is something they would want to maintain, not something they would want to easily depart with or separate from. Perhaps it is because of these beliefs that the issues of race and culture has been a conflict with child adoption agencies throughout the United States. In the book, "The Case For Transracial Adoption", by, Rita J. Simon, Howard Alstein, and Marygold S. Melli, not only do the authors discuss the issues of race and culture, they relate these issues to cases of transracial adoptions.

The authors quickly garnered by attention as they began the book by not only explaining the history of transracial adoptions, but also the history of intercountry adoptions. Transracial adoption (TRA) and intercountry adoption (ICA) began in the late 1940's following the end of a world war that left thousands of children homeless in many parts of the world. The incidence of such adoptions gained momentum in the mid-1950's, diminished during the early 1960's, rose again in the late 1960's, and began to decline in the mid-1970's. From a high of more than 2,500 transracial adoptions reported in 1971, less than 1,000 were made in 1975.

Transracial adoptions did not come about as a result of deliberate agency programming to serve populations in need; rather, it was an accommodation to reality. Social changes in the United States - changes regarding abortion, contraception, and reproduction in general - significantly reduced the number of white children available for adoption, leaving nonwhite children as the largest available source.

Changes had also occurred regarding the willingness of white couples to adopt nonwhite children. Whatever the reasons, in order to remain "in business", adoption agencies were forced by a combination of social conditions to reevaluate their ideology, traditionally geared toward the matching concept, in order to serve the joint needs of parentless children and couples seeking to adopt. The authors performed a 20-year study of transracial adoptees and their families. They began their study in the fall of 1971 by interviewing parents and their children (adopted and birth) who were between four and seven years old, and conducted the last set of interviews with adult children (adopted and birth) in 1991. They surveyed the families four times - in 1971 - 72, 1979, 1983, and 1991. In between there were occasional contacts with some families, often in response to a request from print or electronic media for interviews.

The results of the study left an impression, especially since the collection of data was at most times, difficult to obtain. They authors relate presenting accurate, reliable, and meaningful data about transracial and intercountry adoptions is not an easy task. In some cases, numbers are unavailable for political reasons. Their revelation might constitute an embarrassment either to a particular country or to a specific child welfare agency. Countries may not be anxious to advertise the actual numbers of children they allow to leave their shores for adoption in (more affluent, white) Western countries. Neither may they want the world to know how many children are living in orphanages, many times under questionable conditions. Concerning transracial adoptions within the United States, agencies may not want to reveal that a larger than expected percentage of nonwhite children remain for long periods of time in foster care, group homes, or institutions. There are also instances in which numbers are unavailable because they have not been collected.

The authors reveal at the time of writing, the United States had not been collecting data since 1975 on the number of in-racial and transracial adoptions that occur per year, the number of children available in foster care; and even before 1975, the numbers were often incomplete. Since 1980, the U.S. government has failed to implement its own law, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, which mandated the creation of "a statewide information system capable of tracking children who have recieved care within the preceding twelve months."

In 1986, another statute was enacted that also called for the implementation of an information system that would account for the number of children in foster care and for those who were adopted. The law provided that this system should be operational by October 1991. Just prior to its implementation, a commissioner of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) wrote that the regulations were still being written and the states were not required to submit any data until such time as the regulations are finalized.

As recently as November 1991, the authors were told that the federal government did not know when the 1986 (actually, the 1980) statute would be implemented. No reason was given as to why. Because of this, the authors explain they are without any reliable and consistent sources of data. They explain the researchers had to "ferret out" information from various reports, articles, records, and so forth, and then - based on their knowledge of the field - make some educated projections about the number of children involved. As I read this book, I acknowledged this handicap, and was extremely impressed by the information the researchers were able to compile and compare.

The authors discuss transracial adoptions and intercountry adoptions. They discussed transracial adoptions, in various forms, in regard to Black American children and Native American children. The authors did an adequate job of discussing the laws governing transracial adoptions. It was particulary interesting to discover how each State within the Union, for the most part, had their own respective law or laws in regard to transracial adoptions. The authors assisted me with the laws of adoption by first explaining transracial adoptions are governed by the same laws as other adoptions. They further explain adoption, like other family issues, is the province of states; and therefore, the law of the state in which the adoption is to take place will control the arrangements. Transracial adoptions are similiar to other adoptions except for the role that race may play in the adoption process.

As I read chapter 2, which discussed the law governing transracial adoptions, it explored the issue of why, in a society committed to racial color blindness and where the law requires that racial classifications be strictly scrutinized, black children can be denied suitable homes because the available adoptive parents are white. As I continued to read through the chapter, I decided to focus on this issue. Should black children be denied adoption by white parents, or any other race other than their own? 

The authors write, the legal structure for adoption consist of the adoption statutes, case law interpreting those statutes, and, perhaps most important, the placement practices of the public and private adoption agencies whose role it is, first, to provide services to parents who wish to place children for adoption and second, to choose adoptive homes in which those children will be placed. The authors further write, this legal structure shares the common objective of seeking adoptions that are in the best interest of the child. For much of the history of adoption in the United States, adoption professionals have seen the best interest of the child as being promoted by a policy of matching children and adoptive parents.

The authors provided an excellent corroboration of the "best interest of the child" issue by offering an excerpt from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It states, (Adoption agencies) try to place a child where he can most easily become a normal family member. The duplication of his natural biological environment is a part of that program. Such factors as age, hair color, eye color and facial features of parents and child are considered in reaching a decision. This flows from the belief that a child and adoptive parents can best adjust to a normal family relationship if the child is placed with adoptive parents who could have actually parented him. To permit consideration of physical characteristics necessarily carries with it permission to consider racial characteristics. One organization, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), may possibly agree with this policy.

The authors did a very good job in explaining the cases for and against transracial adoptions. They write, organized opposition to transracial adoption begun in the early part of the 1970's, and was formidable enough by 1975 to bring about a reversal in policy on the part of major adoption agencies in most states throughout the country. The opposition was led and organized primarily by the NABSW and by leaders of black political organizations, who said they saw in the practice an insidious scheme for depriving the black community of its most valuable future resource its children.

Perhaps to give me a better understanding, the authors provided some examples of opposition. At its national conference in 1971, the president of the NABSW, William T. Merritt, announced, "Black children should be placed only with black families, whether in foster care or for adoption." In addition, Merritt made the following claims Black children who grow up in white families suffer severe identity problems. On the one hand, the white community has not fully accepted them; and on the other hand, they have no significant contact with black people.

Black children adopted transracially often do not develop the coping mechanisms necessary to function in a society that is inherently racist against African Americans. Transracial adoptions, in the long term, often end in disruption; and the black children are returned to foster care. The authors state that Merritt provided no evidence for the above claims.

In 1974, the Black Caucus of the North American Conference on Adoptable Children recommended "support (for) the consciousness development movement of all groups" and "that every possible attempt should be made to place black and other minority children in a cultural and racial setting similar to their original group." More recently, at the annual meeting of the Black Adoption Committee for Kids on November 8, 1991, a former president of the NABSW, Morris Jeff, Jr., stated, placing African-American children in white European-American homes is an overt hostility, the ultimate insult to black heritage. It is the creation of a race of children with African faces and European minds. It is a simple answer to a complex situation. It causes more problems than it solves.

One of the most prevalent arguments against transracial adoptions is that white families, no matter how liberal or well intended, cannot teach a black child how to survive in an essentially racist society. The authors write the case for transracial adoptions rests primarily on the results of empirical research. They argue the data shows that transracial adoptions clearly satisfy the "best interest of the child" standard. They show that transracial adoptees grow up emotionally and socially adjusted, and aware of and comfortable with their racial identity. They perceive themselves as integral parts of their adopted families, and they expect to retain strong ties to their parents and siblings in the future.

The authors supported their case by providing several examples and many pages of studies of which they apparently concluded as successful. The studies not only concerned transracial adoptions within the United States, but also included studies of intercountry adoptions in the United States, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Holland, and Israel. Since my interest mainly concerned the title of the book, and the majority of the book's contents, the case for transracial adoption, I focused mainly on the studies which concerned black children being adopted by white families. 

Chapter 5, which discussed the Simon-Alstein 20-year study of transracial adoption, provided an excellent and in-depth summation of the magnificent and complex research in regard to black children adopted by white families. Perhaps to give the readers a clearer understanding of the research, the authors divided the research in phases. The research discussed the adoption experience of the families involved in the studies, including what type of neighborhoods the families resided in, and the type of schools they attended. The research included interviews of the adoptive parents and siblings, and interviews of the adoptive children.

Overall, I found the entire study to be quite interesting and most impressive. Apparently, the research basically argues that during adolescence, and later as adults, transracial adoptees were clearly aware of, and comfortable with their racial identity. The research implies that transracial adoptions can satisfy the "best interest of the child." "The best interest of the child." In my opinion, this should be the first and foremost criterion for adoption agencies. If the adoptive families are found to be a suitable and safe environment for the children, I would support transracial adoptions over children having to be submitted to a life of institutional living or foster care.

The authors point out that one of the unexpected, yet not surprising, consequences of foster care is that minority children are significantly overrepresented in its ranks. Minority children also remain in foster care one-third longer than white children. I would like to prevent a child from becoming subjected to "foster care drift", whereby a child is drifted from foster home to foster home until age of majority and then discharged into society. No child should be exposed to this type of life, especially since it can be possibly prevented.

One should not completely dismiss the arguments against transracial adoptions. One must pay some credence to organizations such as the NABSW. The authors suggest the arguments against transracial adoptions are based completely on rhetoric and ideology. They write the NABSW have never presented scientific data to support their position. Although in this instance this may possibly be true, one must acknowledge the members of the NABSW. For they are the ones who work closely with the children. Thus, one should assume, in regard to their respective knowledge and experience, their arguments may have some merit. It was interesting to read about the NAACP's resolution in regard to transracial adoptions.

At its annual convention in July 1992, the membership of the NAACP passed a resolution that stated, "If black families are not available for placement of black children, transracial adoption ought to be pursued as a viable and preferable alternative to keeping children in foster homes." I seem to concur.

Although the authors provided some excellent and interesting research, one should not be completely married to its findings. It would be very naive to think all black children adopted by white families grow up emotionally and socially adjusted, and aware of and comfortable with their racial identity. Although to their credit, the authors discussed some examples of this occurring, one must wonder if it occurs more often. The Case For Transracial Adoption is an excellent and informative book which compells readers to think about and possibly discuss an issue which involves the lives of many; especially those of black children. It is an issue that prior to the reading of the book, some may have taken for granted, or possibly may have not known even existed.

Although it may be advantageous or possibly "desired" for a child to be adopted by his or her own race, the authors make an interesting plea during the last paragraph of the book. They write, move the thousands of children who are available for adoption out of the institutions and out of their temporary foster placements, and into permanent homes! Apply the standard best interest of the child as the first and foremost criterion in child placement. Make the move without regard to race!

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Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:37:53 -0600
From: Sarah Elizabeth Niziolek <senizio@.ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Simon, Case for TRA (Niziolek)

By Sarah Elizabeth Niziolek

In Illinois alone there are 2,600 children waiting to be adopted, 48% of these children are minorities. The number of parents waiting to adopt these children is significantly smaller, at only 1,183. Many white couples are willing to adopt black or mixed-race children but according to the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) this transracial adoption cannot be allowed. The NABSW feels that transracial adoption is harmful to the children. They would rather the child stay in an institution or in foster care. "The Case for Transracial Adoption" addresses this issue and why transracial is, in fact, in the childs best interest.

The opposition for transracial adoption is led and organized by the NABSW who believes that "Transracial adoption is a massive conspiracy on the part of the white community to steal black children." The NABSW has gone before a Senate committee with their president, William T. Merritt, saying they "...believe the placement of Black children in White homes as hostile act against our community. It is a blatant form of race and cultural genocide." He also claimed that these transracially adopted children "...suffer severe identity problems.", " not develop the coping mechanisms necessary to function in a (racist) society...", and that these children will eventually end up back in foster care.

After making all these claims he gave no evidence to support them. The NABSW's case against transracial adoption is based soley on ideology and rhetoric. There is simply no emprical or scientific evidence to show that transracial adoption is not in the best interest of the children. Another arguement those opposed to transracial adoption have is that the standards to be an adoptive parent are set to white middle class standards. They feel that Black families cannot make the cut when it comes down to it. Many people also claim that there is no data available to show transracial adoption is more beneficial than an institution or foster care.

One of the most prevalent arguments against transracial adoption is that White families simply cannot teach a black child to survive in a racist society. Non-whites opposed to transracial adoption believe that because Whites are white they cannot experience racism or what it feels like to be a minority. So how can they teach a child to deal with something they have know experience with. It would be equivalent to trying to describe what it feels like to be shot in the gut when you've never even seen a gun!

In discussing the law regulating transracial adoption, Simon points out that all U.S. states have their own statutes which deal with adoption, however, it is unconstitutional for any state or agency to prohibit adoption due to race. Following this same trend the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that it is not unconstitutional to consider race as a factor during the adoption process. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with this decision and went on to add "that the respective races of the participants is a factor to be considered in a child's placement determination but, as with all factors, can be no more than that-a factor." After taking a longer look at state statutes, there are only seven states which actually "prohibit the use of to deny an adoption or placement" of any child.

The majority of states actually make no mention of race in their adoption laws. Adoption agencies also have a great influence in the process of adoption. Their influence is so great for two basic reasons. First, the formal laws governing adoptions are based on a general principle which is simply the child's best interest. And it is none other than the experts (the adoption agencies) who decide what is in the children's best interest. The second powerful influence agencies have comes to play very early in the adoption process in a very shady area. It has been said that agencies, especially in States where statutes prohibit denial of adoption based on race, may deny applications for adoption from white couples wanting to adopt black or mixed race children.

Agencies often have the ability to place black or mixed race children in foster care instead of with white adoptive parents. It is because of sloppy laws. It is clear that race as the sole reason to deny adoption is unconstitutional but using it as a factor is okay. But there are no laws governing how this factor can or should be used. There is only one group that has been allowed to deny outsiders adoption of their children. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 "gives tribal courts exclusive jurisdiction over child custody proceedings involving children who reside or are domiciled on the reservation, as well as concurrent but presumptive tribal jurisdiction over a child not domiciled on the reservation" (19). This act was evoked to protect the "cultural setting" of the tribe. The removal of its children "seriously impacts a long-term tribal survival."

Finally, there is a discussion on Inter-country adoption and the laws governing its practice. There are three different bodies of law that must be cleared before a foreign child can be adopted and brought to the U.S.. First, there is the law from which the child is from. Second, the regulations of the Immigrations and Naturalization Service must be met and followed in order for the child to be allowed into the United State. And third, the laws of the state the adoptive parents are from must also be followed.

Rita Simon's case for transracial adoption was based on her 20 year empirical study. She began her study in 1971 using 204 families from five cities across the mid-west. The families were all members of the Open Door Society and the Council on Adoptive Children. The parents and their children were interviewed for a grand total of 204 parents and 366 children. Her sample contained transracial adoptions and white children adopted by white parents. The study was a comparison of these two groups. She contacted the families every several years and did more interviews to see how the family was adapting or how it had adapted. After reviewing her data Simon found no evidence suggesting transracial adoption is not in the best interest of the child.

In fact, she found that "transracial adoptees grow up emotionally and socially adjusted and aware of and comfortable with their racial identity." While the NABSW never gave any scientific data to support their claims against transracial adoption. Simon's arguement for transracial adoption is packed full of it, almost to the point of overload. In response to questions of identity for black children raised by white families, Simon found a 1983 study conducted by Ruth McRoy and Louis Zurcher which showed 20% of its 30 subject families, acknowledged the adoptees' racial identity and the need to provide black role models for them. These parents put their adopted child in integrated schools, they moved to racially mixed neighborhoods, or became members of a church located in the black community. Within this study, another 20% of the families had adopted more than one black child and now "acknowledged that their family was no longer white but interracial."

Despite what the NABSW and others opposed to transracial adoption say, research has shown that transracial adoption is in the best interest of the child. The transracial adoptees do not lose their racial identities, they don't display indifferent or negative attitudes about themselves. Finally, these children and their adoptive families have as high of a success rate as all other adoptees and their families.

This book does as very good job of giving all sides of the arguement. And it doesn't just stop with black children and the NABSW. The arguements given by the NABSW, I feel are completely unfounded and there practise would lead to nothing more than black children growing up in cold institutions without the love and support of parents and a family. The NABSW tries to use the Indian Child Welfare Act in their favor but I feel these are two completely different issues. Indian reservations are considered seperate nations, they should, and do, have the right to deny non-Indians the adoption of their children.

To me it is no different then a foreign country dening Americans the right to adopt their children. The proof is now here, transracial adoption is not harmful to the adoptee. What will it take for the NABSW to see and understand that. It truely frightens me that they would rather see these innoscent children grow up in institutions or be shuffled from foster homes than to have the love of white parents. If that is not racism than I don't know what is. Overall I found this book to be very informative.

All sides of this hot issue were covered fairly. The NABSW's arguements and the reasoning behind them were given. Perhaps if there was evidence to support their arguements their side might be more convincing. I believe Simon went into this with the objective of learning what was honestly in the best interest of the child. I believe she found it, now maybe the NABSW will see it too.

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Date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 16:15:42 -0500
From: Melissa Lauren Taverna <mltaver@.ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review; The Mask of Benevolence, (Taverna)

The Mask of Benevolence, by Harlan Lane

How would you feel if you were forced to learn a language that you could never understand or use a language that you could never speak? Harlan Lane argues in his book that this is the plight of the deaf person. He opens our eyes to the world that a deaf person lives in and the hardships that they endure. In attempting to get his readers to fully understand their perspective, he discusses deafness as a culture, not a disability, the role of the professionals who educate and work with deaf people, and the role of the medical establishment.

The fact that a person can not hear does not make them disabled. Deafness is a culture, not a disability. Just as any other culture is free to express themselves to show that they are proud of their culture, deaf people should be able to do the same. Deaf people want to use their own manual language to communicate. Lane argues that denying them their own language is denying them their culture and freedom to express themselves. Deaf people are very loyal to each other.

Just like other cultural groups, members of the deaf community believe that one should marry another deaf person. They have their own art, history, and social structure. Lane states that deaf people can be said to have something in common with the Hispanic community because each have a unique language. They can also be said to have something in common with the gay community because most of the time they do not share their minority identity with their parents. Lane says that "if we respect the right of people in other cultures, including those within our borders, to have their own constitutive rules, which may differ from ours, then we must recognize that the deafness of which I speak is not a disability but rather a different way of being" (21).

Deaf identity is very highly valued. If a deaf person adopts hearing values, and looks down on other deaf people, they are seen as traitors by the deaf community. Deaf people's values can be much more salient than other cultural groups. Their school ties are very important to them. Often times deaf people refer to the school that they attended, and they keep in close contact with the friends that they made there. All of this seems simple enough, but there are too many hearing professionals who view deafness as a disability. The obstacles they put up can be extremely detrimental to deaf people, and deaf children in particular. The professionals who work with deaf people include teachers, counselors, interpreters, speech therapists, psychologists, and others. These people are there to help deaf people learn to read and speak just like a hearing person.

But, the problem is that deaf people do not want to assimilate with hearing people. They want to use their own ways of communicating. Lane calls all of these hearing professionals audists. The audist's job is basically to force deaf people to be just like hearing people. He describes audism as "the hearing way of dominating, restructuring, and exercising authority over the deaf community" (43). 

The professionals discourage deaf people from using American Sign Language, and they block deaf teachers from teaching deaf students. Instead of letting deaf teachers educate deaf students, they place deaf students in classrooms with hearing pupils and teachers. There is no way that a deaf child is going to be able to learn anything in this setting. Instead, educators just blame their inability to learn on the deaf students. They say that they are not as smart as hearing students because they do not understand "true" language. It is thought by the audists that deaf people should only be taught speech because sign language is only broken English. Lane argues that no language is better than any other.

"Languages have evolved within communities in a way responsive to the needs of those communities" (125). This is to say that deaf people need American Sign Language to communicate, just as hearing people need verbal language to communicate. This seems very obvious, so why are the audists so persistent in assimilating deaf kids with hearing kids in the schools? This question can be answered simply. The hearing professionals are viewing the child's deafness as a disability. They think that since the child is disabled, he or she is already at a disadvantage, so they may as well make him or her feel as normal as possible. The audists are not looking at it from the proper perspective. Deaf students need to be taught the manual language by deaf teachers who are sympathetic to a deaf child's needs. Deaf children are also not getting the proper education because these audists convince the deaf child's parents that they know what is best for the child.

A lot of children do not have the chance to get a good education if they do not have deaf parents to teach them manual language. Unfortunately, most deaf children have hearing parents who do not know the first thing about deaf culture. The audist's role is not limited to the education of deaf children. It is also seen in the medical community. Surgeons, audiologists, and speech/language pathologists have teamed up with the development of the cochlear implant. This implant is supposed to help deaf people learn to speak by converting sound waaves into electrical currents that are delivered to a wire implanted in the child's inner ear. Parents must be committed to having daily speech therapy sessions with their child. Schools must also focus on oralist practices.

Once again, the audists are pushing deaf children away from learing manual language. There is no indication that these devices are any more beneficial to a child than if he or she were to be taught manual language by a deaf educator. Also, most of the time the children are too young to make an informed decision about receiving the implants. The parents make the decision to have the implants put in their child because they are hoping that their child will not embrace a culture that is unfamiliar to them. Lane argues that any medical intervention on deaf children is not necessary because they already have a language, a culture, and a history. The fact that cochlear implants are only in the experimental stage is just one ethical concern. There is also the concern that the parents do not know what the child wants. Parents themselves are often poorly informed, and then they can not discuss it with their child.

It should be accepted that deafness is a culture, and no matter if or when a child receives the implants, he is most likely going to rely on manual language, not oralism. Lane state that "even if we could take children destined to be members of the African American, or Hispanic American, or Native American, or Deaf American communities and convert them with bio-power into white, Caucasian, hearing males - even if we could, we should not. We should likewise refuse cochlear implants for young deaf children even if the devices were perfect" (237). I have to admit that when I first started to read this book I had a very closed mind. From the description of what the book was about, I did not understand why a person would not want to do all he or she could to hear sound.

But, as I continued to read the book, I started to understand what Lane was saying about deaf culture. I realized that even though I had considered deafness a disability, deaf people do not see themselves as disadvantaged. They have accepted their inability to hear and established themselves as a culture with their own art, history, and language. Even though I accepted Lane's idea of deafness as a culture, and agreed with his whole discussion about audism, I still had a hard time stretching my agreement to include the ideas about the cochlear implants. If a person is born deaf, I think that they sould be taught manual language by deaf teachers, and not be forced to use oralism. But, I feel that as adults, deaf people should be able to hear sound if they choose. I do not think that children should be implanted because they are too young, but adults are able to make more informed decisions. If the implants are improved to the point where it is obvious that they can be beneficial, then I do not see why a deaf person would not want to try them.

Lane compares deaf culture to African American or Native American culture, but I do not completely understand this philosophy. A person can not change their skin color or heritage, and they should not want to. A deaf person has the choice to be able to hear sound which is such an important part of communication. It helps us understand the world around us. If a deaf person chooses not to take advantage of the cochlear implants, I would not look down on them. Similarly, I do not think that the deaf community should look down on deaf people who choose to try and assimilate with the hearing population.

Harlan Lane definitely made me look at deafness in a whole new light, and I think other readers will do the same. Deafness as a culture may be hard to understand at first, but after reading Lane's book, I think most readers will walk away with a clearer understanding of their lives.

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Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 12:25:17 -0500
From: Jaime Schmitt <jnschmi@ILSTU.EDU>
Reviewed by  Jaime Schmitt

When one takes on the challenge of proving a side of an issue he/she has chosen to argue, facts and informational data are essential. This will help make a point and show there is clear-cut evidence on paper, not just numbers pulled from somewhere in space. There is a limit however of exactly how many numbers and sources should be used to prove a point. The saying, 93sometim es less is more94, can ring so true it hurts your ears. In this book, the authors recognize the lack of true numbers available to their research. It is stated several times that the numbers are far from accurate and no one knows what they really are.

Foreign countries often lie about the number of children sent to other countries for adoption, to keep themselves from looking like they can92t take care of their own children. They also might not want the world to know how many children they have in orphanages. Adoption agencies in the United States are not required to report how many children are being adopted and how many parents are waiting to adopt. Agencies also don92t want people to know how many non-white children are in foster care, group homes or institutions.

Because of these reasons, the authors decide to use the numbers they do have to give the readers some notion of the ratios are in different aspects of adoption. The obvious problem with this is the ratios are not going to be accurate if the numbers used to figure the ratios are not accurate. This is like trying to prove UFOs exist, when there is no true picture of one or an actual example of one. The media can show photographs and films of them flying, but there is no definite way of proving they exist. The analogy I have just given might be a stretch, but I hope it gets the point across.

The first chapter in the book bombards the reader with numbers and dates and numbers and more dates. When reading the book, it is impossible to try and keep track of what you just read. Believe me, I tried. I thought in order to understand what the authors were trying to portray with the numbers, I would have to keep mental notes of dates and numbers in order to compare and come to my own conclusion. Frustration sets in and unfortunately, the dates and numbers and percentages become obsolete. Overkill on the data is a downfall for this book due to the tremendous information thrown at the reader.

One becomes fixated on the numbers rather than the issue at hand85 transracial adoption. The data shows that there is a decrease in the number of adoptable children. The authors attribute these numbers to four factors. The first three would be contributed to the declining birthrates, an increase in infertility and the stigma on unwed mothers being reduced. Looking at these three factors it is common sense to conceive that it is possible for these to influence the number of children being available for adoption. The fourth factor, an increase in abortion, I feel does not have a strong argument.

The basis for the reasoning behind it is pure assumption. The authors compare the number of abortions to the number of adoptable children. When the number of abortions increase the number of adoptable children decrease. Once again, the authors do not have the accurate numbers to base the assumption on. Hospitals and clinics do not have to report the numbers. I will not use my UFO analogy again, but I could have easily done so. I think there is another saying that starts out, 93two things happen when people assume. I won't finish the saying, for I don't want to offend any readers.

My point is, I think the authors of this book are trying to finish the saying. I understand that when numbers are scarce, one has to work with what he/she has. I suppose some numbers are better then none at all. Transracial adoption is probably one of the hardest issues to have to choose a side on. Each side makes a compelling case and I think the reader of this book will be able to agree with both aspects of the arguments on each side. I was surprised at how well the authors represent the other view.

They are in fact very quick to jump at the opportunity to inform us of the lack of evidence the other side has. We the readers are told that the case against transracial adoption is used through warnings, threats, fears and predictions.20 I have to defend this side by giving them credit for recognizing that the numbers are bogus (the fact that they are inaccurate), and they choose not to incorporate them into their argument. They immediately lose the credit I have just given them by claiming that transracial adoption is a massive conspiracy on the part of white community to steal the black children. The main opponents of transracial adoption are members of the National Association of Black Social Workers and leaders of black political organizations.

Some Native American leaders also feel their children are being taken away. Both groups feel it is best if parents of their own race raise a child. There is already an Indian Child Welfare Act that was passed and is in effect that makes it impossible for non-Native Americans to adopt Native American children. Some black organizations want a similar law passed. Their argument claims that white adoptive parents cannot teach black children how to deal with racism.

They also claim that the black children will have an identity crisis when they become teenagers. According to them, transracial adoptions end up with problems that send the black children back to foster care. No evidence was provided to strengthen these arguments. They want the eligibility standards to be reformed to qualify more Black parents to be able to adopt. This point makes sense and the amount of money required for adoption is listed in the book. It is much more expensive to adopt a white child than it is to adopt a black child and even that amount is fairly expensive. Adoptive parents most often have to fit into a middle-class criteria which makes it difficult for black parents to qualify.

The case for transracial adoption is much stronger in the objective of putting the child92s interest first. Nobody argues that putting a child with adoptive of parents of the same race is the best option. Extended family and relatives are the first choice, if that is not possible, finding parents of the same race is the second best option. This is where the two sides disagree.

Those opposed to transracial adoption, feel it is better if non-white children are kept in foster care, orphanages or group homes, than to be adopted into white families. Those that are for transracial adoption argue that children are better off in a stable and secure home even if it means the child being adopted by a white family. There is a study that supports this. The children seem to adjust fine to their new families and compared to white children adopted by white parents, it is extremely close. It was also reported that the black children had no problem identifying with being black and had pride in being so.

There are so many factors and issues brought up in this book, which makes it impossible for me to touch on all of them without writing a whole other book. The two sides have disagreements that are easy to see and understand. When it comes down to the child's best interest though, I don't see how anybody can agree that being institutionalized or tossed around from foster home to foster home can be the best answer.

Security and stability are somewhat essential to survival and a peaceful mind. I think we tend to forget that maybe the answer to what is best in the child92s interest might be found by asking the child itself.

Date: Thu, 04 May 2000 10:17:32 -0500
From: Paul Herrick Peterson <>
Subject: [Fwd: The case for Transracial adoption]

By Paul Peterson

Should the love that is directed towards a child be color bound? There are those who believe that Minority, and imparticular Black, children should only be placed in homes with members of the same racial makeup. One of these groups is the National Association of Black Social Workers. They believe that,"The United States is a racist society"; White families, even with the best intentions, cannot teach children how to cope in such a society".

This makes a case for transracial adoption. Rita J. Simon, Howard Altstein, and Marygold S. Meli are the authors who conducted a study that began in the fall of 1971, and ran for 20 years. They authors met with the families four times over the twenty year period, and what they did was survey them to find out how they all compared together. They were all asked the same questions. The results of the book were outstanding, but not too unpredictable. They found that the minority children that had grown up in the white households had relationship with their parents on the same level as the birth children.

The point of this book is that regardless of race, children should be put in loving homes. The authors do state that if a suitable same race adoptive family is available, the adoption agencies should match the children up according, but if that is not available, the children should be placed in homes that have parents that will love and care for them. It sounds silly, but this is the sort of book that should not have needed to be written, nor was it necessary for a 20 year study to be done. I think that it is completely awful that there are people that need a study like this to help persuade them to adopt, or stop fighting transracial adoption. If one looks at the alternatives, institutionalism and foster homes vs. a loving home that will care and support a child for the rest of theirs lives.

The decision is an easy one for most, but others still need help I guess. That is where the National Association of Black Social Workers comes into play. They believe that the culture of the black community is more important than love for a child. In other readings they have sited examples of their culture as being the way black people do their hair, and that white people would not be able to deal with that correctly. I suppose that makes a whole lot of sense. Let's put the importance of black communities hair above the life and love of a child. When the parents were asked about the ability of a white family to raise a black child, "Almost all of the parents thought that the position taken by this group was contrary to the best interest of the child and smacked of racism".

There are also the statistics that state that there are actually black families out their that have wanted to adopt some of the black children, but they get turned down in overwhelming numbers. Approx. 85 % of black families that apply for adoption get turned down for various reasons, but one of the main ones being money. The cost for adoption ranges from 2,000 9,000 per child. The NABSW has equated this with the slave market and that the black babies are being sold like slaves to the white community. It is has been called a sort of genocide by forcing the assimilation of these children that don't have a voice into whether or not they want to go into the white community.

This, as they say, will be a community that they will not understand, and will never accept them. This is ludicrous. The NABSW solution is to allow the black families, that may be unsuitable and have been denied, a chance to adopt a black child. This notion that we should lower the standards for the sake of likeness is shameful. Would they do that for an Irish family, or for a child from Eastern Europe? The answer is no. This position is preposterous, and dangerous. How can we give a child to a family that does not meet minimal qualifications? How can the safety and well being of the child be ensured? Families have hard enough times making do, and getting by without lowering the standards and placing children in unsuitable homes.

There is a very strong hypocrisy here, it it lies in the acceptance of a group of people. We have white families that want the chance to love a child, not a black child, but a child. We have people in our communities that are not just looking beyond racial lines, but a group of people that don't even notice a racial line. The interesting twist here is that the NABSW is the group saying that their should not be this acceptance. They think that by white people accepting the children, that is in itself a blatant form of racism and genocide.

This bring home the point of this class to me. What we all most do is preach the equality of man (woman). What we must do is fight the people out their who have more love for their movement than for the children that are homeless tonight dreaming of a loving home, not a loving black home.

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Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2000 19:00:52 -0500
From: Amy Smith <amsmith4@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review of the Case for transracial Adoption

Reviewed by: Amy Smith

Race is a concept that America has been struggling to deal with and overcome for centuries. In schools, work places, friendship families, people are stepping over racial dividing lines. Should this elimination of division include parent- child relationship? How does transracial adoption effect a child? How does transracial adoption effect minority groups?

These are some of the issues looked at by Simon, Alstein and Melli in The Case for Transracial Adoption. The authors begin by explaining the historical trends in transracial adoption and intercountry adoption. Transracial and intercountry adoption began after World War II with the adoption of children orphaned by the war. It gained momentum in the late 50ís and again in the late 60ís. The authors claim that transracial adoption came about more as a result of necessity then because of social change. The number of white children available for adoption dropped significantly, while white parents remained the largest group seeking to adopt. Availability of birth-controll, abortions, and the rising acceptability of single parents raising children made in-racial adoption more difficult.

Second, the authors explain the various laws governing transracial and intercountry adoption. Adoption policies in the United States are governed by the individual states unless specific federal legislation is provided. A majority of states do not mention race in adoption statutes, however, a large minority of them do. Approximately ten states require that the race of at least one of the adopting parents be included in the petition for adoption. Seven states prohibit the use of race to prevent an adoption. Finally, three states prohibit discrimination on the basis of race in adoption. 

Intercountry adoption is regulated by various parts of international law, the domestic law of the countries from which the child comes, and by the laws of the state in which they are being adopted. One federal law that is particularly important is the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1972. This act gives Indian tribal courts jurisdiction over custody issues involving any child domiciled or residing on their reservation. This law came about as a result of Indian opposition to transracial adoption of Indian children. The degree to which Indian children were being adopted by white families had the potential to greatly reduce the numbers of children being raised in the culture of the their tribe. In a already very small minority, transracial adoption was looked at as a type of genocide.

Besides the opposition of Indian tribes, the authors explain several oppositions to transracial adoption. The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), one of the strongest opponents of transracial adoption, claims that black children raised by white parents will have identity problems. The will be raised with "white psyches"(41). The NABSW also claimed that black children raised in white families will not learn how to deal with racism. 

In the second half of the book, the authors make a case for transracial adoption through a series of studies. These studies took place over a course of twenty years. The authors interviewed and tracked transracial adoptees and their families. The result of this study, according to Simon, Alstein and Melli, show that "transracial adoptees grow up emotionally and socially adjusted, and aware of and comfortable with their racial identity. They perceive themselves as integral parts of their adopted families, and they expect to retain strong ties to their parents and siblings in the future."(51)

While this study addresses the well being of the child in a transracial adoption, it does not really address the major concerns of the groups appeased to transracial adoption. Many of the arguments put forth by the NABSW and Indian Tribes have more to do with the rights of groups rather then the rights of individuals. It would be much more difficult measure the effects of transracial adoption on minority groups rather than on individual children. One argument given against transracial adoption is that the children of these adoptions are lost to their communities. Another argument, however, could be that transracial adoptions lessen the degree of racial separation and therefor help demarginalize minorities.

In the case of Indian tribes, the potential consequence of large numbers of transracial adoption is cultural extinction. In the case of many black children, since transracial adoption is often an alternative to foster care, the increased access to education and a higher standard of living for many black children may the help improve the perception of blacks in society.

One argument presented against transracial adoption has great potential to harm blacks as a group. Black professionals claim that white social works tend not to recruit black families to adopt children. They also claim that guidelines set for finding adoptive families often eliminate potential black families. Some of these guidelines include marriage and financial well being. 

A black adoption agency in Detroit explains the opposition of blacks to transracial adoption as a desire to "affirm our ability to care for ourselves and our children" and "the fear of losing control of our own destiny through the loss of our children"(45). In the policy recommendations section of this book, the authors recommend that racial matching policies in adoption be eliminated. The also support giving subsidies to families, both white and minority to make it easier for lower income families to adopt and to make it possible to get more children out of institutions and foster care.

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Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 01:24:09 -0700
From: Deidre Meyers <dlmeyer_98@YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Review of The Case for Transracial Adoption

Reviewed by: Deidre Meyers

Do transracial adoptions serve the best interest of the child? This is the exact question Simon tries answer within her book THE CASE FOR TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION. The whole premise behind the book is that children should be placed with families of other ethnic backgrounds if they can not be placed with a family of their same ethnic background; instead of institutionalization or foster homes. An example of a transracial adoption is one in which a white family adopts a black child, or any nonwhite child. Of course not all transracial adoptions occur domestically, there are also intercountry adoptions.

An intercountry adoption is one in which a child is adopted from another country. Prior to reading this book my opinion about transracial adoption was somewhat neutral. The book takes a positive stance on transracial adoption, without being dogmatic in itsí approach.

The book is based on a twenty year study of transracially adopted children. Through her study, Simon tries to obtain empirical data that supports her claim that transracial adoption serves the best interest of the child. However in the beginning of her study, Simon encountered problems obtaining data about the exact number of transracial adoptions. To quote the author, Presenting accurate, reliable, and meaningful data about transracial adoption and intercountry adoptions is not an easy task. In some cases, numbers are unavailable for political reasonsÖ.

Concerning transracial adoptions within the United States, agencies may not want to reveal that a larger than expected percentage of nonwhite children remain for long periods of time in foster care, group homes, or institutions. There are also instances in which numbers are unavailable because they have not been collected (2).

To combat this problem, Simon relied on data retrieved by other studies on transracial adoptions. The second part of the book focuses primarily on her own study of twenty families who adopted children from another ethnic group from 1971 to 1991.In order to keep the book from being purely one-sided, Simon and Altstein acknowledge counter arguments about transracial adoption. One organization that has been on the forefront of the argument against transracial adoption is the National Association of Black Social Worker or NABSW. The NABSW believes transracial adoption does not serve the best interest of the child. Rather, the NABSW views transracial adoptions as "an insidious scheme for depriving the black community of its most valuable resource its children"(39).

The NABSW also subscribes to the "Oreo Theory." The Whole notion behind the "Oreo theory" is the black children adopted by white families will be black on the outside, and white on the inside. The NABSW and other prominent black leaders fear that black children brought up in white households will be ill equipped to deal with the harsh reality of racism. To paraphrase their argument, only black families can teach and prepare black children. The NABSW strongly believes black children who grow up in a white household will develop an identity crisis, and lose all connection with their cultural heritage. Therefore in order for a child to grow up to be a well adjusted adult, he or she must be brought up in a family with similar cultural heritage. The preceding argument has been upheld by the courts.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision which stated, [Adoption Agencies] try to place a child where he [she] can most easily become a normal family member. The duplication of his natural biological environment is a part of that program. Such factors such as age, hair color, eye color and facial features of parents and child are considered in reaching a decision. This flows from the belief that a child and adoptive parents can best adjust to a normal a family relationship if the child is placed with adoptive parents who could have actually parented him [her]. To permit consideration of physical characteristics necessarily carries with it permission to consider racial characteristics. (16)

Surprisingly, organizations like the NABSW would rather see black children in institutions or foster homes, than with a loving white family. Transracial adoption has also received disapproval from the Native American community. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 outlined the major provisions of adopting Indian Children. According to the book, The most important feature of the Indian Child Welfare Act is that it gives the tribal courts exclusive jurisdiction over child custody proceedings involving children who reside or are domiciled on the reservation, as well as concurrent but presumptive tribal jurisdiction over a child not domiciled on the reservation. . . . 

In any adoptive placement of an Indian child under state law, a preference shall be given, in the absence of a good cause to the contrary, to a placement with (a) a member of the childís extended family; (b)other members of the Indian Childís tribe; or (c) other Indian Families. The law was enacted in order to keep what Native Americans saw as "genocide" and society seeking to deny them of their future by taking away their children (39).

To counteract the argument against transracial adoption, Simon and Altstein provide extensive research and numbers that suggest a vast majority of children available for adoption are minorities. Most adoption seeking black families are denied children because of socioeconomic reasons. If the potential adoptive black families do not fit the middle class profile, they are denied a child. Not only do the adoption seeking families suffer, but the child is deprived of a home. Because there is a shortage of available white children, some white families have opted to provide a home for a child of another ethnicity.

During the twenty year study on transracial adoption, Simon and Altstein interviewed the different families about how they were or planed to teach the child about their heritage. In introducing their findings the authors write. In the early years, many of them were enthusiastic about introducing the culture of the TRAís background into the familyís day-to-day life. This was especially true of the families who had adopted Native American and Korean children.

They experimented with new recipes; sought out books, music, and artifacts; joined churches and social organizations; traveled to southwest for ethnic ceremonies; and primarily introduced books about black history and black heroes, joined a black church, sought out black playmates for their children, and celebrated Martin Luther Kingís birthday. . . .

But as the years wore on, as the children became teenagers and pursued their own activities and social life, the parentsí enthusiasm and interest for "ethnic variety" waned(87). The parents made numerous attempts to teach the children about their heritage, until the child began to show expressed disinterest. In many cases the parents said, they would have been more than willing to continue their efforts, had the child still shown interest. 

In critiquing the book, one weakness that I found was that the authors start off the book by discrediting the data in the book. As I stated earlier, the authors mentioned that much of the data about Transracial adoptions was unreliable and inaccurate due to various reasons. As a reader, I contemplated, why I should continue to read the book, if the information they were going to present wasnít accurate. The second part of the book relied exclusively on the study, they themselves performed, and this redeemed the authors. However, I still continued to question the information the authors provided. 

I questioned whether or not they may have fabricated some of the information, because there was no reliable source to compare the data to. Although the book is based on empirical data yielded from their study, I feel the authors over saturated the book with statistics. As a reader, I was overpowered by the enormous amount of figures found in every paragraph. I became entangled in the numbers and lost sight of the points they were trying to convey. Also, the graphs and tables the authors included throughout the book were extremely hard to read and interpret. The graphs and tables neither supported nor refuted the authors position on transracial adoption.

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Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 13:16:24 -0500
From: Amalia Monroe <almonro@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review of The Case for Transracial Adoption

Reviewed by Amalia Monroe

The Case for Transracial adoption is an unusual book, at least compared with other book dealing with controversial issues. It is not a book that utilizes a lot of strong, piercing words. In fact, the majority of the book is devoted to publishing and explaining research. Numbers dominate, and that is what the audience is overwhelmed by, not words. However, the authors make a strong argument for the continuation of transracial adoption. 

Through explanation of the findings of the twenty year case study, Simon and Alstein, present compelling data that supports their claims that race of adoptive parents does not seriously affect adopted minority children. One might even support transracial adoption over more traditional adoptions after reading The case for Transracial Adoption. It is not just the research that is presented, it is also the fair manner in which the opposing viewpoints are presented as well that adds to the support of the claims made about transracial adoption. As with any proper study, the authors discuss the weaknesses present in their study, so the audience does not have to discredit them in their minds. Overall, The Case for Transracial adoption is a strong book, with strong arguments, but without alienation for its readers.

In 1971 and 1972 researchers Rita J. Simon and Howard Alstein contacted 204 parents, who had a total of 366 children. All of the parents had adopted children, but not the standard adoptions of the time. These researchers were looking at an issue that has become even more controversial over the years, transracial adoption. Over the next twenty years Simon and Alstein questioned these families at several different intervals in order to compile significant data of the effects on minority children being raised by white parents. This is an area where data is still missing, and the researchers attempted to piece together as much information as possible through their own case study, and whatever available statistics could be found. In the book, The Case for Transracial Adoption, they published their findings and argue for the continued existence for transracial adoption.

The most significant findings were that the minority children that Simon and Alstein studied were not different from other adopted children raised by families of the same race. The families experienced the same problems with their children as other families who chose adoption. Only a small percentage of the families would not recommend the experience for others. In fact, both the minority children and the white family members found that they understand those of other races much more. They experienced both sides, which is unusuall and rewarding, in their opinions. 

These findings are the basis for the argument for transracial adoption, in Simon and Altsteinís opinion. One important aspect when considering The Case for Transracial Adoption is the heavy use of numbers. The book is presenting findings of an empirical study, therefore, numbers are a completely necessary component. However, beyond this basic necessity, one could examine the use of numbers as a strong rhetorical tool. If a person who reads this book is not well-versed in the field of empirical research, and the language that accompanies it, could become completely overwhelmed by the constant use of numbers as explanation. 

People can become lost in numbers, and trust them blindly, and therefore might be convinced because of lack of understanding rather than through their own critical analysis. Discussing this aspect of the book is not necessarily a criticism but more a reality that warrants attention. Those involved with research are not the only ones who might possibly read this book. A possible suggestion for the authors might be to write a version with less concentration of the actual statistics, but a more easily understood version with interpretation of their findings.

Another point of consideration when discussing The Case for Transracial Adoption is the fact the authors in the first few pages discuss the weaknesses in their research. Besides the fact that this is a necessary part of any quality published study, it also works in convincing the audience of the weaknesses of those who oppose transracial adoption. If there is a lack of research, a lack of statistics, then the audience might question how the opposition formed their opinions and arguments. 

Those opposed to TRA often state that children transracially adopted do adjust normally, nor do they learn about their natural race. However, according to Simon and Alstein no data really exists on this subject, and that is one of the major reasons they conducted the study that they did. Therefore, they, possibly inadvertently, discredit the opposition.

One flaw in The Case for Transracial Adoption is the inclusion of information on inter-country adoptions. The authors even state that they will not be giving a tremendous amount of information on the subject, but for whatever reason it is still included. It seems that intercountry adoptions are a different area of study than transracial adoption, and to fully explain both takes separate books. It was distracting, and might throw some of the audience off the main point of the book, transracial adoptions. Of course the two subjects are related, but the authors did not give enough information on ICA to warrant consideration in this particular book.

It is difficult to imagine anyone being against transracial adoptions after reading The Case for Transracial Adoptions. The authors present strong arguments for transracial adoptions, if suitable same-race families cannot be found. This is an important distinction for the audience to recognize, and one of the reasons this book effectively makes the case for transracial adoptions. A completely radical stance is not taken by the authors. 

They way in which the information is presented is f for the audience, with regard to the lack of controversial statements made. The findings seem reasonable, and the fact the much of the book is devoted to statistics make of the information at least appear more reliable, the rhetoric of numbers. Often, books written about controversial issues are only based on one personís opinion, or at least on only one viewpoint. The Case for Transracial Adoption does not fall victim to this weakness, and that is why it is such an effective and convincing book.

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Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 01:49:53 -0500
From: shelly spencer <sjspenc@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Transracial Adoption

Review by:  Shelly Spencer

As you can tell from the title of this book it is supporting transracial adoption. The authors studied twenty families who all paint a very positive picture of transracial adoption. This book did not show entire surveys so it was hard to tell if the authors were being selective about their findings. Also, the first two chapters of the book discuss statistical data that the authors admit is inaccurate.

Prior to giving all the data and charts the authors explain the difficulty they had complying the information because some agencies did not keep accurate or useful information and with intercountry adoptions some countries refused to release the information for political reasons. This book seemed to concentrate on white families who adopted black children. I hope that transracial adoption is viewed as a positive step to getting beyond race and that the lives of transracial families are going along smoothly.

The truth is most families go through rough times. The survey questions of the twenty families consisted of questions like as an adolescent did you feel close to your parents. Most of the adopted children said know, as would most teenagers. Then as young adults they were asked again if they were close to their parents and many of them know said yes.

Again they answered the as most young people would. The children were also asked what race were their three closes friends. During childhood and adolescence their friends where white but into adulthood they seemed to gain diversity.

Transracial adoption and intercountry adoption has been on the rise in recent years. In the past it was much easier to adopt with in your own race but with societal changes there are few children to adopt. The number of children available for adoption has gone done because of the declining birth rate, abortions and the reduction in the stigma towards unwed mothers.

An example of how these changes have affected the number of children would be that fact that prior to Roe v. Wade there were about 95,000 adoptions per year85and since Roe v. Wade there have only been approximately 50,000 adoptions per year. The book mentions the change in the stigma towards unwed mothers but failed to mention that transracial marriages and biracial children are more common and accepted today.

When families adopted out side the country it was usually because of a war or some other tragedy that caused an abundance of parentless children for example after the Korean and Vietnam wars we adopted many children from those countries. Also, here in America there have been a higher number of minority children needing homes than minority families wanting to adopt children and lower number white children needing families than white families who wanted to adopt. Do to the scarcity of white children to adopt they cost about $4,000 to $5,000 more than biracial or other minority children? So, some white families decided that they just wanted a child and it did not matter what race the child happened to be. Without transracial adoption these children would have been left in an institution or foster care for an indefinite amount of time and possible never knowing any type of permanence or family life.

Anytime you discuss custody of a child you must consider what is in the best interest of the child. And it seems to me as long as the child lives in a loving home free from abuse then that child92s best interest is being served. Unfortunately, in today's society no matter where a child who is black lives he/she will have to learn to deal with some form of prejudice at times or another in their lives. Granted that a white parent may not fully understand to what extent prejudices affects the child but all loving parents would be sympathy and do what they could do to ease their child's pain. The more people that have inter-racial relationships have biracial children and adopt transracial we will all benefit from the learned acceptance and the newfound understanding of people who have different characteristics than our selves.

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