Adoption Institute Proposes New Parameters for Transracial Adoption

Current federal law mandates a "color blind" approach to white families seeking to adopt African-American children — but new recommendations released Tuesday by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute suggest that adoptive families’ race and readiness to help their children deal with prejudice and discrimination should factor into placement determinations. The Institute also criticizes current law for doing too little to identify and provide services to African-American families seeking to adopt.

Significantly, the study reports recent research on adopted children that finds that "when parents facilitate their children’s understanding of and comfort
with their own ethnicities, the children show more positive adjustment
in terms of higher levels of self-esteem, lower feelings of
marginality, greater ethnic pride, less distress, and better
psychological adjustment."

The report assesses the efficacy of the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994, legislation intended to address disparities in number of African-American children adopted permanently and the length of time African-American children spent in foster care compared to children of other races. The report finds that "The adoption rates of Black children (as well as Native Americans) have
remained consistently lower than those of other racial/ethnic groups" and that "While the time that all children remain in foster care has declined due
to the reforms legislated by the Adoption and Safe Families Act,
African American children still stay in foster care an average of nine
months longer than do White children."

The Institute’s key recommendations are:

  • Amend Inter-Ethnic Adoption Provisions 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 the Multiethnic Placement Act’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.


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