Transracial Adoption

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Transracial Adoption

What is Transracial Adoption?

The term transracial adoption means the joining of racially different parents and children together in adoptive families. (Silverman, 1993)

What legislation exists concerning transracial adoption?

*The Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA), prohibits an agency or entity that receives Federal assistance and is involved in adoptive or foster care placements from delaying or denying the placement of a child on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the adoptive or foster parent, or the child involved.
*In 1996, Congress enacted a law amending MEPA, the Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEP), which forbids agencies from denying or delaying placement of a child for adoption solely on the basis of race or national origin. The Provisions: removed potentially misleading language; stated that "discrimination is not to be tolerated;" strengthens compliance and enforcement procedures, including the withholding of federal funds and the right of any aggrieved individual to seek relief in federal court against a state or other entity alleged to be in violation of the Act.

MEPA-IEP specific intentions include:

*decreasing the length of time that children wait to be adopted.
*facilitating the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents who can meet the distinctive needs of children awaiting placement.
*eliminating discrimination on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the prospective parent.
(Hollinger, The ABA Center on Children and the Law, National Resource Center on Legal and Court Issues, 1996)

How many families are adopting transracially?

*The most recent estimate of transracial adoption was performed in 1987 by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The findings revealed that only 8% of all adoptions include parents and children of different races.
*1% of white women adopt black children
*5% of white women adopt children of other races
*2% of women of other races adopt white children (estimates include foreign-born). (Stolley, 1993)
*An estimated 15% of the 36,000 adoptions of foster children in FY 1998 were transracial or transcultural adoptions. (US DHHS, 2000)

What does the research show?

*The research that has been done to date suggests that transracial adoption is a viable means of providing stable homes for waiting children. Nearly a dozen studies consistently indicate that approximately 75% of transracially adopted preadolescent and younger children adjust well in their adoptive homes. (Silverman, 1993)
*In a 1995 study, transracial adoption was not found to be detrimental for the adoptee in terms of adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, peer relationships, parental and adult relationships. (Sharma, McGue, Benson, 1995)


Hollinger, J.H. and The ABA Center on Children and the Law National Resource Center on Legal and Courts Issues. (1998). A guide to the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by the Interethnic Provisions of 1996. Washington, DC: American Bar Association.

Sharma, A.R., McGue, M.K. and Benson, P.L. (1996). The emotional and behavioral adjustment of United States adopted adolescents: part 1. An overview. Children & Youth Services Review, 18, 83-100.

Silverman, A.R. (1993). Outcomes of transracial adoption. The Future of Children, 3(1), 104-118.

Stolley, K.S. (1993). Statistics on adoption in the United States. The Future of Children: Adoption, 3(1), 26-42.

This material has been taken from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Web site as reviewed and approved for addition to this site on January 12, 2004.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, can be reached toll free at 1-888-251-0075,or by e-mail at:

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (

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