Parental Ratification: Legal Manifestations of Cultural Authenticity in Cross-Racial Adoption
American Indian Law Review, Vol. 28, p. 107, 2003
23 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2010 Last revised: 30 Aug 2010
Date Written: January 20, 2004
This Article aims to critique the practice of judicially created definitions of “Indian” in a hotly contested and controversial area of law: transracial adoption. The evaluation of potential parents as appropriate, qualified, and situated persons to adopt and care for children of color stands as a juridical ratification of ethnic authenticity that privileges those who accede to the judicially created norm while punishing those who depart form it. At the heart of the controversy of transracial adoption is the question of what type of ethnic values can the differently situated parent impart upon the child, and whether that parent possesses the cultural consciousness needed by the child to grow up with a healthy racial identity.
For both Indian children and Black children, the future of their cultural identity in the hands of people unlike them has drawn a lot of attention. Advocates for both groups hold strong views on what constitutes a proper cultural development in the child, and what type of parent should be transmitting these values. In this Article, I will uncover the social construction of the “good parent” of the minority child. In the middle of criticism of White parents adopting minority children sits a tacit understanding of cultural authenticity. This known, the line between “good” and “bad” parents does not logically fall along racial lines, but begins to carve itself a new line within one of the existing ones. This is my target, and I wish to assail it.
Keywords: transracial adoption, adoption, ICWA, Indian Child Welfare Act, race, children
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