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The Ethics of Transracial Adoption [Hardcover]

by Hawley Fogg-Davis
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 17, 2002 0801438985 978-0801438981 1
Transracial adoption is one of the most contentious issues in adoption politics and in the politics of race more generally. Some who support transracial adoption use a theory of colorblindness, while many who oppose it draw a causal connection between race and culture and argue that a black child's racial and cultural interests are best served by black adoptive parents. Hawley Fogg-Davis carves out a middle ground between these positions. She believes that race should not be a barrier to adoption, but neither should it be absent from the minds of prospective adopters and adoption practitioners. Fogg-Davis's argument in favor of transracial adoption is based on the moral and legal principle of nondiscrimination and a theory of race-consciousness she terms "racial navigation." Challenging the notion that children "get" their racial identity from their parents, she argues that children, through the process of racial navigation, should cultivate their self-identification in dialogue with others. The Ethics of Transracial Adoption explores new ground in the transracial adoption debate by examining the relationship between personal and public conceptions of race and racism before, during, and after adoption.

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Editorial Reviews


"The Ethics of Transracial Adoption is an indispensable resource not only for those contemplating adoption across racial lines, but also for those interested in reexamining the ways in which our current racial classification systems affect racial identity construction, our notions of the family dynamic, and what elements are best deliberated when determining the placement of a child in adoption policy. . . . The Ethics of Transracial Adoption is a valuable contribution to the field of multiracial studies and race relations in the United States."—Kimberly Cooper-Plaszewski., March 2002

"Fogg-Davis creatively proposes a thoughtful experiment: What would happen if all agencies adopted a policy of racial randomization, where color was totally eliminated as a consideration in adoption? White children would be adopted by black families as readily as white families adopt black children. . . . A brief summary cannot do justice to this work's theoretical, philosophical approach. . . . This work is recommended for graduate students, faculty, and professionals."—Choice, September 2002, Vol. 40, No. 1

"The Ethics of Transracial Adoption is an important scholarly contribution not because it resolves dilemmas of race and adoption but because it helps to reframe the inquiries. It poses questions that should be fundamental to the race and adoption debate, yet for too long have been absent from it."—R. Richard Banks, Stanford Law School, Perspectives on Politics 1:2, June 2003

"I recommend this book for social workers, government agencies making the decisions regarding transracial adoptions, and prospective adoptive parents. It is easy reading, yet it provides excellent information."—Charlie Spencer Lackey, Duke University Medical School Library, MultiCultural Review, September 2002

"Arguments over the rules that should govern transracial adoptions ignite great passions. Professor Hawley Fogg-Davis' The Ethics of Transracial Adoption adds much needed rigor to those debates. Her book displays deep philosophical reflection, an admirable willingness to accord respect to opposing perspectives, a keen eye for nuance, and lively, accessible writing that will provide an excellent basis for discussion in a wide range of disciplines."—Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

"The Ethics of Transracial Adoption skillfully weaves together contemporary political philosophy, social theory, and critical theorizing about race, to produce real conceptual clarity on a difficult and controversial topic. This is a powerful book, and it should serve as a model for how to bridge the gap between theory and practice in a serious and morally illuminating way."—Michele M. Moody-Adams, Professor of Philosophy, and Director and Hutchinson Professor of Ethics and Public Life, Cornell University

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (January 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801438985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801438981
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,943,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Interesting and Insightful July 29, 2002
By A Customer
This is a wonderful book! As someone with personal experience with transracial adoption, I found the book very insightful in trying to sort through some of the difficult issues at stake in what is usually an emotionally charged debate over whether whites have what it takes to raise black children. The author is an academic-a political theorist-and she is clear and upfront about the parameters of her project: she describes her use of transracial adoption as a "case study" for examining the racial assumptions we all bring to social life in America, including the way we build our families and interact with each other. Most people want simple answers to America's race problem. This book is brave enough to discuss the complexity of navigating and negotiating racial categories, taking an extremely intellectually challenging route. This is not a book of personal stories, but rather a serious philosophical meditation on the "ethics" of the racial decisions we make in our private and public lives.
If you want a serious and well-balanced discussion of race and adoption definitely buy this book. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing Take July 20, 2002
By A Customer
An excellent read! Fogg-Davis brings refreshing analytic rigor, sensitivity, and penetrating philosophical insights to the controversial topic of transracial adoption. By mining political theory, the author brings a new lens to bear on an issue that has been mired in predicatable policy debates and an increasingly unimaginative therapeutic literature. Perhaps the most impressive achievement of the book is the author's ability to imagine and accord senstivity to the positions of children, parents, and the various groups that have a stake in this issue. Her deep philosophical reflections furnish more insights on race, social identity, and the predicaments of transracial adoptive families than most interview-based studies. Anyone who cares about the issue of transracial adoption and the dilemma of race in the United States should read this book.
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16 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother June 16, 2002
By A Customer
This was an incredibly disappointing book. It isn't even about transracial adoption--it's all about theorizing about race. The author talks about her theory of "racial navigation" as if she invented the idea! And you can't get a handle on what she's really talking about because it is totally removed from the reality of transracial adoptees' lives. If she had ever talked to someone who lived the situation she might realize that regardless of what she calls it, people are always doing it. I mean, if you are black and you have white parents and you've grown up around white people then you have no choice but to figure out how to "navigate" that. It isn't some great revelation that she bestows on us. It's a lot of pontificating supposedly about ethical choices adoptive parents make, but all she really talks about in that sense is whether or not it is racist for white parents to choose to adopt white kids. This is not a useful discussion. Don't waste money on this book.
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