Displaced Mothers, Absent and Unnatural Fathers: LGBT Transracial Adoption

81 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2012 Last revised: 19 Sep 2012

See all articles by Kim H. Pearson

Kim H. Pearson

Gonzaga University - School of Law

Date Written: 2012


This paper interrogates race contestation and sexual orientation transmission fears, showing that race and sexual orientation appear to have developed in a parallel fashion in court decisions and advocacy rhetoric. At the point of intersection in LGBT transracial adoption, race and orientation appear to be in competition, as though Black and gay cannot co-exist. Historically, courts have devalued racial identity transmission from parents of color and expressed fear of LGBT child outcomes. Over time, courts have moved towards seemingly neutral standards; however, these standards cover homophobia and racism.

Media and advocacy discourse pitting Black against gay has appeared in the context of Proposition 8 and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. LGBT transracial adoption appears to be another iteration of Black versus gay competition for the right to parent children of color. The staging of Black versus gay discourse in the context of transracial LGBT adoption reinforces stereotypes that gay fathers are male, white, and privileged, that Black fathers are absent, hyper-masculine and heterosexual, and that Black children are unwanted, damaged and dangerous. Reliance on these pernicious stereotypes creates structural costs such as obscuring the existence of LGBT families of color, concealing the history of lesbian mothering, displacing Black women as mothers, characterizing Black boys as damaged and dangerous, fixing gay men as parents of last resort, failing to acknowledge the social forces that remove Black men from the home, preventing coalition building between various groups with similar interests, and limiting the resources available to LGBT transracial families.

Keywords: race, sexual orientation, adoption, fathers, mothers

Suggested Citation

Pearson, Kim H., Displaced Mothers, Absent and Unnatural Fathers: LGBT Transracial Adoption (2012). Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 19, No. 1, p. 149, 2012; Gonzaga University School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2117484

Kim H. Pearson (Contact Author)

Gonzaga University - School of Law ( email )

721 N. Cincinnati Street
Spokane, WA 99220-3528
United States

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