Friday, March 6, 2009

The Unblinkable Difference

As promised, I am serving up some information that I learned in
my research for my term paper. As I read study after study that sought to quantify the effects of transracial adoption, measuring adoptee's self-esteem levels and factors relating to the development of positive racial identities and the like, they all began to sound rather similar. Generally, those who have been transracially adopted have positive experiences. There are exceptions. There are unique challenges. But generally, studies consistently show transracial adoption serves as a positive means of providing essential care and a sense of belonging to children who might otherwise never be placed in a family.

One journal article that I read, however, presented a unique angle to the transracial adoption debate. The author discussed the reasoning behind the common practice of biological matching within the adoption world. She then compared and contrasted this approach with what occurs in transracial adoptions. She concluded that transracial adoption offers some distinct, though perhaps understated, benefits. Here is what I learned (based largely on J. Swize's article, "Transracial adoption and the unblinkable difference: Racial dissimilarity serving the interests of adopted children" in the 2002 Virginia Law Review):

The obvious racial dissimilarity inherent in families formed by transracial adoption has been termed the “unblinkable difference." It has been proposed that this unmistakable reality actually serves to directly benefit transracially adopted children by facilitating open communication about adoption within families, promoting positive associations with adoptive status and racial identity, explicitly confirming the desirability of a particular child for a particular family, relieving disappointment regarding dissimilarities between parent and child, encouraging acceptance of unique traits and interests, and developing insightfulness regarding family and humanity. Beyond these direct benefits to the child, there may be indirect benefits achieved because of unconventional parental expectations based on the unblinkable difference. Such benefits are linked to the discouragement of unrealistic assumptions of generational similarity, increased awareness of a child’s uniqueness, and greater recognition of the child’s own role in his or her accomplishments.

Reflecting on these proposed benefits gave me hope for our future adopted children; however it also gave me pause and made me analyze how my biological assumptions with my daughter, Abby, and easily assumed biological connections with my white adopted son, Ethan, could actually negatively impact their lives. That was a twist that I had never really considered before!

Finally, I just wanted to report that we received results from Ethan's psychological review. He did tremendously! For a child who did not have the advantages of consistent loving care in his early life and who exhibited obvious developmental delays when joining our family three years ago, how amazing is it that he tested completely average! (maybe even a little above average in some areas--wow!) We praise God for the redemption of lost time! "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" --Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)

1 comment:

Smith Family said...

Very interesting research Kristy.

Way to go Ethan!