Study highlights negative impacts of mixed-race adoption

Published: 06.02.13

Children with a different ethnicity to their adoptive parents are likely to encounter identity problems and racism in childhood and adult life, according to a recent study by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).
Study highlights negative impacts of mixed-race adoption

The study examined the experiences of 72 Chinese orphans who arrived in the UK from Hong Kong in the 1960s and were adopted by mainly white British parents.

Virtually all the adoptees reported some experience of racism or prejudice in both child and adulthood. This ranged from playground name-calling during childhood to serious racist attacks. More than half said they had felt uncomfortable after receiving comments about how they looked different from their adoptive family, while three-quarters admitted thinking that they wanted to look less Chinese.

More than half of the respondents described their ethnic identity as Chinese with 19 per cent identifying as British and 15 percent as British-Chinese. The remainder used individual definitions. Some adoptees reported difficulty coming to terms with separation from their birth family and being Chinese in the UK.

The study also found that the quality of the adoptive home is an important contributor to well-being as adults along with the quality of care provided in the orphanages from where the adoptees were taken.

Julia Feast, co-author of the project concluded:

"Whilst the findings are in the main very positive.... the challenges and complexities of inter-country adoption should not be underestimated."

Read the BAAF press release about the research.