Microaggressions and Adoptees

19 Apr

The first time I heard about microagressions in adoption was from ABM on Adoptive Black Mom, this post specifically.  Yesterday, I was skimming through an annual report by Rudd that talked about a study on microaggressions and adoptees.  

Rudd Annual Report “[…] This was the first study to examine adoption related microaggressions that were not also linked to race or ethnicity (as in the case of transracial or transnational adoption). Based on interviews conducted with 153 adoptees in MTARP when they were adolescents, Karin Garber (doctoral student in clinical psychology) and Grotevant (2015) developed a typology of microaggressions that provides important foundational data for the field. Sixteen themes emerged from this analysis, including (a) Silence, (b) Overly Intrusive Questions, (c) Assumption of Bionormativity, (d) Recurring Confusion/Ignorance, (e) In-House Divisions, (f) Public “Outing,” (g) Using Adoption, (h) Questioning Authenticity, (i) Unacknowledged Identity Status, (j) Spokesperson for Adoption, (k) Adoptees as Nonnormative, (l) Sensitivity, (m) Negative Stereotypes about Birth Parents, (n) Adoptees as Orphans, (o) Negative Societal Portrayal of Adoption, and (p) Other.”

Then I found the study mentioned above…

A very interesting study on microaggressions that applies to areas within the adoptive family, the public, and the need for education of the public on both the positive and negative aspects of being adopted, and the need for adoption competent counselors to understand these microaggression themes, and also, how counselors can use these themes to educate adoptive parents.  Being able to name something, understand the potential impact on the one adopted, especially the adolescent adoptee.

The study is first of a longitudinal study on microaggressions and the participants are from the original MTARP longitudinal study on adopted people that started way back in the 80’s and comprises of four waves that was completed in 2015.  This was collected during Wave 2 of MTARP (1996 – 2001)  If you want to skip to page 447 you get right the topic of microagressions, what was found, and how they apply.

“YOU Were Adopted?!” Microaggressions Toward Adolescent Adopted Individuals In Same Race Families – Karin J Garber and Harold D Grotevant


Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Adoption, adoptive parents


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2 responses to “Microaggressions and Adoptees

  1. pj

    April 20, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    While I understand the context of using the term “microagression” in conversations and/or studies about adoption, I’m uncomfortable with the term. I’m a BSE, so I’ve heard ( and not heard/ “silence”) a lot ! And sometimes, as an adoptee, I’ve thought it would be easier to just say nothing.. but that is not how change happens.I believe those who have used “microagressions” against me have all been well-meaning but misinformed and view my/adoptees world from a different lens as a result of(some) not being adopted and cultural norms. In my mind, labeling behaviors as a type of aggression puts those we’re trying to educate on the defense and doesn’t help towards creating positive discourse. And silence as a” theme” of microagression just seems oxymoronic. As always, thanks for listening…


    • TAO

      April 20, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      Pj – I think the uncomfortableness is more of an age thing with us and not part of our norm, we didn’t have terms that explained things like there are today. It took me a while to be comfortable with naming things, and you’re right, for some they will blatantly disregard the message because it’s named. I think back to when I had a different specialist (or 3) coming into my hospital room for weeks trying to come up with a reason for what happened to me, until one specialist during a procedure could put a name to it. Having named and acknowledged as real – has made all the difference to me.

      Liked by 1 person


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