Book review: Intercountry Adoptees Tell Their Stories by Heather Ahn-Redding and Rita J Simon

Intercountry Adoptees Tell their Stories


Heather Ahn-Redding and Rita J Simon, Lexington Books

ISBN 9780739118566

Although I was eventually won over by the case studies featured in this book, it starts less auspiciously. The book’s introduction refers to a study titled In Their Own Voices, which focused on experiences of black children placed with white adopters.

The authors then declare that they wish to explore the same issues raised in that study with “non-black transracial adoptees”, reared in “unconventional transracial combinations”. From a UK perspective, I was immediately troubled by some of the American terminology and an absence of discussion of the methodology, limitations or reliability of either study.

Indeed, the overview of American research about transracial adoption seemed surprisingly positive and I began to question the book’s relevance for practice over here. However, my attitude changed after I read the fascinating and emotional stories of the 21 “experts from experience”. Many talk about the importance of a positive self-identity and how this relates to more than race and cultural background at birth. Two women (described as “sad and bitter” yet survivors of horrendous abuse and neglect) give clear messages about assessing potential adopters, communication with young people and building resilience.

The stories are really worth reading, but prepare to do your own analysis of the study.

Lynn Baxter is a senior social work lecturer at Greenwich University

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