Article in the NYT

I’m quoted in the NYT article, "De-emphasis on Race in Adoption is Critical."

Doing this article was another example in which I feel we adult adoptees always have to be vigilant in the way we are represented. I have a good working relationship with the reporter of this piece (about two years ago he had interviewed myself and several other adult transracial adoptees but unfortunately the piece did not make it to print).

However, on Saturday, I received a call from a photographer who wanted a photo to accompany the article. The photographer asked if my parents were in the city. Baffled, I asked why he wanted to know this. The photographer then said that he wanted my parents in the photo with me, and asked if I had a photo of them that could be run in this article since they don’t live close to me. I told the photographer that in principle, I objected to having a photograph with my parents because I didn’t see what my parents had to do with this article.

I was interviewed as a social worker who also happens to be a transracial adoptee. But, at almost 40 years old, I am frustrated that an article – that is NOT about ME (that is, it is not my personal story), has to include a photo of my parents. Would the photographer have asked Dorothy Roberts, a black child welfare legal scholar, to include her parents in an article in which she talks about racial disparities in child welfare? I mean, that would be relevant right? She’s black, so is her parents, and she talks about child welfare issues in the black community.

When will I be able to be seen as a separate entity apart from my parents? Yes, I was adopted. But why do I need to be seen in the context of my parent’s child at my age?

When will adoptees be able to have their professional and personal views accepted as the individuals we are?

*more articles about the Evan B. Donaldson report:

Washington Post

Chicago Tribune

Associated Press



Authors: Susan Smith, Ruth McRoy, Madelyn Freundlich, Joe Kroll
Published: 2008 May. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Document Type: Policy Brief (58 pages)
Availability: PDF Full Report |
Executive Summary |
Web Page |
Press Release

Institute report is the most thorough examination to date of the
often-sensitive, controversial issues relating to transracial adoption
and calls for major changes to better serve the needs of children of
color and to improve their prospects of moving to permanent, loving
homes. Among the study’s findings are:

  • The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994
    and the Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEP) of
    1996 have not resulted in equity in adoption for African American
  • The "color blind" interpretations of MEPA-IEP
    that have served as the basis for its enforcement run counter to widely
    accepted best practices in adoption.
  • MEPA’s call for
    "diligent recruitment" of prospective parents who represent the racial
    and ethnic backgrounds of children in foster care has not been well
    implemented or enforced.

This paper is being
endorsed by a broad range of national child-welfare organizations: the
North American Council on Adoptable Children (whose executive director,
Joe Kroll, is a co-author), the Child Welfare League of America, the
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Adoption Exchange Association,
the National Association of Black Social Workers, Voice for Adoption,
and the Foster Care Alumni of America. In addition, the National
Association of Social Workers – which has no policy for supporting
research papers per se – endorses its recommendations, which include:

  • Amend
    IEP to permit race to be considered as one factor (but not the sole
    factor) in selecting parents for children from foster care, and allow
    the preparation of parents adopting transracially.
  • Enforce
    MEPA’s requirement to recruit families who represent the racial and
    ethnic backgrounds of children in foster care, and provide sufficient
    resources to support such recruitment.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

One thought

  1. That is an odd request. All of these articles seem to want to include photos of trans-racial adoptive families.
    As to the articles, I haven’t been keenly aware of this law or its effects on the adoption process. When we first began looking at adoption in the late 90s we thought about African American children and I do remember feeling an influence to not do so. It made a real difference in what direction we headed in.
    Adoption is entirely about the children, but the party in the triad with the most choices are prospective adoptive parents. Secondary to efforts to reduce the need for adoptive parents in the first place, I feel we need to find a way to better educate people before they adopt. Before they are in the process.
    It is unfortunate to realize that has been hampered by this law.
    I remember sitting in parenting class and listening to other soon to be parents say things that were obviously foolish and likely destructive to their adopted child’s well being. And I remember thinking why isn’t anyone saying anything to them about it?
    The majority of adoptive parents I have met since I became an adoptive parent managed to cause at least one of my eyebrows to raise at some point.
    Then again I can say the same thing about all of the bio parents I know.

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