‘Transracial Adoption in Britain: Politics, Ideology and Reality’

Ravinder Barn, Derek Kirton

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Transracial adoptions by white parents are situated at the intersections of family and public policy. Debates on racial integration are juxtaposed with child rights and the private sphere of the family. In Britain, the practices of transracial adoption and 'racial matching' continue to invite fierce debate and discussion. Several factors, including the ongoing disproportionate representation of minority ethnic children in the public care system, the 'unavailability' of suitable minority ethnic parents, concerns about adoptees' racial/cultural identity and the 'suitability' of white parents to raise racially competent children, form the backdrop for such debates. For the last decade or so, political attention has been focused on permanence for children in care and adoption in particular. Within these wider debates, the allegedly low adoption rates of minority ethnic children, the 'delay' in finding suitable adoptive families, the 'rejection' of suitable white adoptive couples, and 'ethnic matching' are presented as some of the key concerns. This paper seeks to unravel the evidence base around transracial adoption and 'racial matching in the symbolic representational battle being fought in the 'best interests' of minority ethnic children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages12
JournalAdoption and Fostering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • transracial, adoption, matching, minority, ethnic, identity, multicultural

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