Beyond Culture Camp: New Donaldson Report
From the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute,
a new report on adult adoptee identity issues:
Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy
Identity Formation in Adoption.
From the study's website:
The principal recommendations of the 112 page study include:More about the report in this New York Times article, Adopted From Korea and in Search of Identity.
Expand parental preparation and post-placement support for those adopting across race and culture. Such preparation should include educating parents about the
salience of race across the developmental course, instruction about racial identity development and the tasks inherent in such development, and assistance in understanding racial discrimination and how best to arm their children to combat the prejudice and stereotypes they will face. Preparation also should include the understanding that seeking services and supports is a positive part of parenting - i.e., it is a sign of strength, not failure.
Develop empirically based practices and resources to prepare transracially and
transculturally adopted youth to cope with racial bias. This study, as well as previous research, indicates that perceived discrimination is linked with greater psychological distress, lower self-esteem, and more discomfort with one's race/ethnicity. Hence, it is essential to arm transracially adopted youth with ways to cope with discrimination in a manner that does not negatively impact their identity.
Promote laws, policies and practices that facilitate access to information for adopted individuals. For adopted individuals, gaining information about their origins is not just a matter of curiosity, but a matter of gaining the raw materials needed to fill in the missing pieces in their lives and derive an integrated sense of self. Both adoption rofessionals and the larger society need to recognize this basic human need and right, and to facilitate access to needed information for adopted individuals.
Educate parents, teacher, practitioners, the media and others about the realities of adoption to erase stigmas and stereotypes, minimize adoption-related discrimination, and provide children with more opportunities for positive development. Generations of secrecy, shame and stereotypes about adoption (and those it affects) have taken a toll, as the respondents in this research make clear. Just as discrimination based on color, gender, sexual orientation and religion - all components of people's identity -
are broadly considered to be socially unacceptable, adoption-related discrimination also should be unacceptable. Professionals and parents also need to be better informed about the importance of providing diversity and appropriate role models.
Increase research on the risk and protective factors that shape the adjustment of adoptees, especially those adopted transracially/culturally in the U.S. or abroad. More longitudinal research that combines quantitative and qualitative methods is needed to better understand the process through which children, teens and young adults progress in confronting transracial adoption identity issues. Additional research is also needed on the identity journey experienced by in-race adoptees - and, pointedly, more of the studies of every kind need to include the perspective of adopted individuals themselves.