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Judelysse Gomez

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Previous adoption-related research and developmental theories have provided a foundation for exploring the identity development of transracial adoptees. However, none of the existing models fully captured the “transracial adoption paradox,” the experience of Asian individuals adopted by White families being socialized into the adoptive parent(s)/guardian(s)’ culture, yet still being discriminated against as people of color. Most earlier research on adoptees has taken a deficits-based approach that pathologized the transracial adoptee experience. Therefore, strengths-based models and those with a comprehensive view of the intersectionality of transracial adoptees’ identities are needed. Wing’s Transracial Adoptee Identity Development Model, a strengths-based model, focused on the intersectionality among four aspects of the transracial adoptee’s identity (adoptive, racial, ethnic, and cultural) with the goal of understanding the developmental trajectory of identity for Asian transracial adoptees in the United States. Further, it privileged the voices of transracial adoptees and normalized their experience. Using a mixed-methods approach, the study examined whether the proposed model captured the transracial adoptee experience more accurately than previous models and measures related to adoptive identity and racism. Study results elucidated transracial adoptees’ experience of being not Asian enough and not White enough. The results also challenged the assumption that transracial adoptees long for connection with their birth parents and birth country. Of the four identities examined in Wing’s model, ethnic identity was found to be the least salient. The proposed model would be useful to mental health and adoption professionals, and adoptees and their parents. Findings have the potential to advance culturally relevant counseling services for, and research on the identity development of, people who self-identify in ways that do not match societal expectations.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.