by Guest Contributor Sara M. Erdmann, MFA, PhD
The image of the American adoptive mother has emerged gradually since adoption’s inception in 1851, but it has always existed within a racialized and heteronormative context (“Massachusetts Adoption of Children Act, 1851”).
According to the American adoption narrative, adoptive mothers are white, heterosexual women; their decision to adopt a child is an act of goodwill, and, in cases of transracial adoption, even a badge of racial acceptance.
This particular adoptive mother has become an accepted, albeit marginalized, part of mothering culture and is the one for whom books are written, organizations formed, and resources developed. This adoptive mother has defined the adoptive mother identity in modern America and become one of many voices within the larger motherhood narrative.
Yet, research confirms that white, heterosexual women are not the only ones adopting children: many Black and queer (*) non-biological children, but, save for mentions in a few isolated academic texts, their experiences are almost entirely absent from the larger adoption narrative. Continue reading