“It’s Just Easier”: Reflections on the Intersections of Kinship, Race, and Ethnicity in Asian American Adoptive Families

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Journal of Family Social Work

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This paper reports Phase II findings of an exploratory study of 26 families who have adopted children with Asian heritage, where at least one parent is Asian American. In-depth interviews provided a rich exploration of parents’ motivations to kin through adoption, the ways in which race and ethnicity factored into their child-selection preferences (if at all), their assumptions about their ability to create kinship bonds with an adopted child, and strategies for racial and ethnic socialization. The themes of approximating or performing family and inconspicuousness were repeated by parents when they considered how race and ethnicity factored into child-selection preferences and their assumptions about creating kinship bonds. The adoptive parents in this study were measured and nuanced in weighing the role of race and ethnicity for Asian adoptees, but the implicit strategies of modeling, mentoring, and intergenerational transmission were described less as strategies, and more about belonging and being a part of an extended tribe that was more authentic because of a shared identity as Asian Americans. Ultimately the question of whose interests are being served when race and ethnicity are considered has been dynamic and shifting throughout adoption history. This study sought to contribute in a small part to moving the conversation beyond the polarized Black-White racialized paradigm and provides direction for further research.


Adoption; Same-face; Interracial; Asian; Asian American


Asian American Studies | Social Work



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