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Resources: Abstracts of American Studies Dissertations

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Patton, Sandra L. "Birth Marks: An Interdisciplinary Ethnographic Study of Transracial Adoption," American Studies Department, University of Maryland, College Park, August 1997.

Concerns over racial identity have been at the center of public dialogues concerning transracial adoption since it first emerged as a controversial issue in the early 1970s. The central question regarding the appropriateness of this social practice is whether or not White parents are capable of teaching their children African American culture and history, and enculturating them with the survival skills necessary for Blacks to survive in the racially stratified United States. This dissertation is about the social construction of identity, and the connections among identity, race, and public policy. This interdisciplinary ethnography explores the social construction of transracial adoptees’ identities in cultural, political, and historical contexts. I consider public and private narratives linking identity, kinship, culture, social institutions, and the political economy in a range of cultural sites including public policy, political discourse, news coverage, popular culture, the perspectives of social workers in the field of adoption, and the life histories of adult transracial adoptees.