Event Title

Contextual Diversity and Microaggressions in the Lives of Transracially-Adopted Children from China

Start Date

13-5-2016 8:00 AM

Description

A large proportion of transracially-adopted (TRA) children experience challenges related to their ethnic and racial identity alongside their adoptive status (Baden, 2015). TRA adoptees grow up in a different country and family from their culture of origin, which may be a barrier to opportunities to learn about their race. Therefore, it is critical to study factors that may contribute to a TRA child’s understanding of race and adoption. Microaggressions are particularly concerning in young children because these subtle messages may influence a child’s understanding of their race at an age when they are unable to fully understand social categorization and biases due to their cognitive developmental levels. Middle childhood, which ranges from ages 6 to 12, is a critical period to study the development of biases because children are exposed to school and classmates as a new context for growth. Certain factors may affect a TRA child’s awareness of these microaggressions, such as racial diversity and exposure to other adoptees. However, literature in the field offers conflicting arguments for diversity as a protective factor for ethnic identity or a risk factor for increased exposure to microaggressions and biases (Lee & Quintana, 2005; Vashchenko, D’Aleo, & Pinderhughes, 2011). The present study intends to examine the specific relations between contextual diversity and a TRA child’s awareness of adoption and racial microaggressions in the school, classroom, and community with consideration of developmental differences. Using a sample of 42 children from ages 6-10, this study will examine TRA children from China. Child interviews were coded for adoption and racial microaggressions and a child’s awareness of these messages. Racial diversity for school and community contexts was generated with data provided by the US Census and Massachusetts Department of Education. Classroom diversity and adoption exposure were coded based on parent perception. These indicators of diversity will be used to examine contextual influences in TRA children’s awareness of adoption and racial microaggressions, with consideration of age and developmental level. Preliminary analyses with 27 children found that TRA children from China tend to experience more adoption microaggressions than racial microaggressions. While there is no significant correlation between community diversity and number of microaggressions experienced, trends show a negative correlation and suggest that children growing up in more diverse communities experience fewer microaggressions. Furthermore, trends suggested that a more diverse context promoted a greater awareness in TRA children of adoption microaggressions but not racial microaggressions, even though on average, children tended to have greater awareness of racial microaggressions compared to adoption microaggressions. These preliminary findings suggest that for children at this age, adoption is more salient than race in their experiences. Findings will be reported with the full sample. Studying contextual influences and how TRA children understand microaggressions may allow us to study potential promotive and protective factors and develop age-appropriate interventions for TRA children or inclusive educational curriculums for all children.

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May 13th, 8:00 AM

Contextual Diversity and Microaggressions in the Lives of Transracially-Adopted Children from China

A large proportion of transracially-adopted (TRA) children experience challenges related to their ethnic and racial identity alongside their adoptive status (Baden, 2015). TRA adoptees grow up in a different country and family from their culture of origin, which may be a barrier to opportunities to learn about their race. Therefore, it is critical to study factors that may contribute to a TRA child’s understanding of race and adoption. Microaggressions are particularly concerning in young children because these subtle messages may influence a child’s understanding of their race at an age when they are unable to fully understand social categorization and biases due to their cognitive developmental levels. Middle childhood, which ranges from ages 6 to 12, is a critical period to study the development of biases because children are exposed to school and classmates as a new context for growth. Certain factors may affect a TRA child’s awareness of these microaggressions, such as racial diversity and exposure to other adoptees. However, literature in the field offers conflicting arguments for diversity as a protective factor for ethnic identity or a risk factor for increased exposure to microaggressions and biases (Lee & Quintana, 2005; Vashchenko, D’Aleo, & Pinderhughes, 2011). The present study intends to examine the specific relations between contextual diversity and a TRA child’s awareness of adoption and racial microaggressions in the school, classroom, and community with consideration of developmental differences. Using a sample of 42 children from ages 6-10, this study will examine TRA children from China. Child interviews were coded for adoption and racial microaggressions and a child’s awareness of these messages. Racial diversity for school and community contexts was generated with data provided by the US Census and Massachusetts Department of Education. Classroom diversity and adoption exposure were coded based on parent perception. These indicators of diversity will be used to examine contextual influences in TRA children’s awareness of adoption and racial microaggressions, with consideration of age and developmental level. Preliminary analyses with 27 children found that TRA children from China tend to experience more adoption microaggressions than racial microaggressions. While there is no significant correlation between community diversity and number of microaggressions experienced, trends show a negative correlation and suggest that children growing up in more diverse communities experience fewer microaggressions. Furthermore, trends suggested that a more diverse context promoted a greater awareness in TRA children of adoption microaggressions but not racial microaggressions, even though on average, children tended to have greater awareness of racial microaggressions compared to adoption microaggressions. These preliminary findings suggest that for children at this age, adoption is more salient than race in their experiences. Findings will be reported with the full sample. Studying contextual influences and how TRA children understand microaggressions may allow us to study potential promotive and protective factors and develop age-appropriate interventions for TRA children or inclusive educational curriculums for all children.