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New York University Press

Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America

Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America

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[An] empathetic study of the meanings of cross-racial adoption to adoptees.--Law and Politics Book Review

Can White parents teach their Black children African American culture and history? Can they impart to them the survival skills necessary to survive in the racially stratified United States? Concerns over racial identity have been at the center of controversies over transracial adoption since the 1970s, as questions continually arise about whether White parents are capable of instilling a positive sense of African American identity in their Black children.

Through in-depth interviews with adult transracial adoptees, as well as with social workers in adoption agencies, Sandra Patton, herself an adoptee, explores the social construction of race, identity, gender, and family and the ways in which these interact with public policy about adoption. Patton offers a compelling overview of the issues at stake in transracial adoption. She discusses recent changes in adoption and social welfare policy which prohibit consideration of race in the placement of children, as well as public policy definitions of bad mothers which can foster coerced aspects of adoption, to show how the lives of transracial adoptees have been shaped by the policies of the U.S. child welfare system.

Neither an argument for nor against the practice of transracial adoption, BirthMarks seeks to counter the dominant public view of this practice as a panacea to the so-called epidemic of illegitimacy and the misfortune of infertility among the middle class with a more nuanced view that gives voice to those directly involved, shedding light on the ways in which Black and multiracial adoptees articulate their own identity experiences.

Author: Sandra Patton-Imani
Publisher: New York University Press
Published: 11/01/2000
Pages: 236
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.79lbs
Size: 9.10h x 6.05w x 0.60d
ISBN: 9780814766828

Review Citation(s):
Library Journal 11/01/2000 pg. 116
Publishers Weekly 12/04/2000 pg. 67
Women's Review of Books 09/01/2001 pg. 10
Univ PR Books for Public Libry 01/01/2001 pg. 32 - Strongly Recommended

About the Author
Sandra Patton-Imani is Professor of American Studies at Drake University, where she teaches Anthropology, Sociology, and Women's Studies. She is a former postdoctoral fellow at the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Maryland, College Park in American Studies with a graduate certificate in Women's Studies. She earned a B.A. in Radio/TV/ Film and American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. She is the author of BirthMarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America, New York University Press 2000, as well as numerous scholarly articles on adoption, race, gender, and family. She and her spouse Melanie Patton-Imani, created the documentary, Sophie Has Five Mothers, based on this research conducted for this book.

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