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November/December 2001Vol. 2, No. 6Study Considers Role of Birth Culture in Adjustment of Transracial Adoptees

A new study suggests that while children adopted across cultures can benefit from learning about their birth culture, doing so is not a requisite to healthy psychological development.

Researcher Amanda L. Baden, Ph.D., of St. John's University, presented her findings at the American Psychological Association's 109th Annual Convention in San Francisco in August. Fifty-one adult adoptees (ages 19 to 36) who were transculturally adopted by Caucasian American families were surveyed to assess their racial and cultural identity and psychological adjustment. Participants included African Americans and Latino Americans adopted by white American families, as well as intercountry adoptees from Asian and South American countries.

Baden found that identifying with one's birth culture is not necessary for positive adjustment and suggested that other factors, such as family and peer relationships, may be more influential. She also noted that there was some evidence showing a relationship between adequately functioning in the culture of one's adoptive parents and successful psychological adjustment.

Although transracial adoptees adapted well without being immersed in their birth culture, Baden does not encourage adoptive parents from turning their children away from their roots. "I don't want to give the message that transracial adoptees do not find any strength or solace from learning about their birth culture," said Baden. "Transracial adoptees form a unique identity that is composed of a combination of identifying with the 'minority experience,' knowledge and values from the White culture, and aspects of their birth culture intermingled in some significant ways."

To obtain a full-text copy of Dr. Baden's presentation (session 2268) "Psychological Adjustment of Transracial Adoptees: Applying the Cultural-Racial Identity Model," contact the APA Public Affairs Office by phone at 800-374-2721 or by email at

Related Items

Visit the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse ( for the following related items:

  • Transracial and Transcultural Adoption fact sheet
  • Transracial Adoption statistics (this publication is no longer available)