Transracial Adoption in the UK: Education, Voice, and Racial Justice

There is a pressing need for resources that support adoptees of colour. Current adoption narratives often centre on adoptive parents, promoting white saviourism and neoliberal agendas. This focus undermines the needs and identities of adoptees and often ignores the trauma associated with adoption which is particularly significant for transracial adoptees, who frequently experience cultural dissonance and a lack of identity. 

A Knowledge Exchange Project

Project Background

There is a pressing need for resources that support adoptees of colour. Current adoption narratives often centre on adoptive parents, promoting white saviourism and neoliberal agendas. This focus undermines the needs and identities of adoptees and often ignores the trauma associated with adoption which is particularly significant for transracial adoptees, who can frequently experience cultural dissonance and a lack of identity. 

Introduction

In May 2023, Centre Partner Annalisa Toccara-Jones (Director of Family Narratives) and Alina Laurent-Olive (Senior UX Designer and Founder of March Grove: Design for Social Impact) collaborated on a knowledge exchange project with postgraduate researchers Merissa Brown and Macole Lannaman. This project offers resources for adoptive parents of transracial adoptees, improving their ability to support their children’s racial identity development and act as anti-racist allies.

Project Details

Merissa Brown and Macole Lannaman, with their wealth of knowledge and skills, played a pivotal role in the project, co-creating the resources, generating detailed summary reports, and supporting the development of learning products. The resources were developed using a transformative and dialogical approach, guided by a decolonial theory lens and informed by qualitative research. 

Transracial Adoption Course for Adoptive Parents

This course offers a comprehensive learning experience designed to empower parents to support their transracial adoptees. It aims to help parents create a nurturing environment that embraces diversity, celebrates cultural heritage, and fosters a sense of belonging. Parents will gain the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of transracial adoption, promoting resilience, cultural awareness, and empathy within adoptive families.

Course Development

Developing an adoptive identity is crucial for transracial adoptees, who often face challenges due to racial microaggressions. This course supports adoptive parents in confronting racial discrimination and bias and in becoming anti-racist allies. It was designed using a Design Social Impact process, which addresses real-world problems and defines opportunities for change by deeply exploring issues through qualitative research.

Learning Approach

The course employs transformative and dialogical pedagogy. Dialogic pedagogy leverages the power of discussion to enhance thinking, learning, and problem-solving. Transformative teaching encourages learners to critically examine their contexts, beliefs, values, knowledge, and attitudes, fostering self-reflection, appreciation of diversity, and critical thinking.

Second Resource: Unpacking White Privilege through Tarot Cards

This project’s second resource is a unique blend of ‘White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’ and the 26 Major Arcana Tarot Cards. This innovative approach fosters an understanding of white privilege and racism for adoptive parents of transracial adoptees.

Reasoning Behind Using Tarot

Often associated with a Eurocentric game, tarot cards are repurposed here to challenge and transform their traditional use. This resource combines design principles, Critical Race Theory (CRT), tarot symbolism, and Gestalt Psychology into a tool for exploring complex social issues.

Purpose and Design

The card deck is a catalyst for discussions on racism and white privilege. It provides a platform for adoptive parents and others to engage in meaningful conversations, thereby enhancing their understanding and ability to support transracial adoptees. Integrating CRT and Gestalt Psychology ensures the resource is both educational and reflective. By turning the traditional tarot game on its head, this resource opens up new avenues for exploring and addressing racial justice issues in the context of transracial adoption.

Find out more about Family Narratives here.

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