Transracial Adoption: What’s the problem?*

When Transracial Adoption Fails
Paul Girard Egbers-Kane writes about his experience of being adopted transracially.

I won’t sugar-coat it, most transracial adoptees claim their adoption was the best thing that happened to them; they were well loved and cared for and they have no interest in finding their birth family. Then there are TRAs like me for whom TRA was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire ie, the adoption was a catastrophic failure and finding our birth families was the only good outcome.

When you wake up one day and find yourself at the mercy of Born Again Christians, you know you hit rock bottom, in the same way many homeless and destitutes have found themselves in a church-run hostel being controlled and told what to do, and orphans in war-ravaged countries find themselves at the mercy of charity workers who end up abusing them. This is not to sound ungrateful or bite the hand that feeds me: obviously there were some benefits to being transracially adopted but sadly the high price some of us pay in terms of the devastating lasting damage to our confidence and mental health far outweighs the benefits and pros. Let me clarify something from the get-go: any family could have adopted us; we could have had a completely different upbringing with a different name in another part of the country; so we adoptees do not owe anyone anything. We were not lucky and we do not have a debt of gratitude to our adoptive families, in fact they were lucky to have us and we would have grown up somewhere with someone anyway.  I am not saying that were I White my adoption would have gone without a glitch and we would not have had half the issues, but it did not help that I ended up at the mercy of an abusive religious narcissistic mother and a narcissistic enabling family that ended up becoming an actual religious cult. Anyone who has seen Carrie or The People Under the Stairs can relate.

From my experience there are three primary reasons why my adoption was a catastrophic failure and it completely broke down when I was 15 and I was taken into care. 1) not being TRA per se but the fact that we moved out to an exclusively White village  where we stood out like a sore thumb and we were sitting targets for the far right racists and we ended up literally under siege; 2) my adopted family are evangelical pentecostalists which made us even weirder and more marginalised plus the religious abuse behind closed doors, cutting us off from the wicked world, and setting us up to fail in the real world; 3) having a malignant narcissistic adoptive mother who held the whole family hostage to her narcissistic abuse, control, gaslighting, the end result being we all fled to the four corners of the earth and the whole family is split up now and mummy is driving daddy into an early grave but we are powerless to stop her. So it’s the isolation, the religious mania and the toxic narcissistic family which is why my adoption irretrievably broke down and why I keep banging on about keeping Mixed Race and TRA kids in racially mixed communities, where they will not be sitting targets for racist abuse or lambs led to the slaughter as in our case.

When my adoptive parents moved us into a £2million house in a Hertfordshire hamlet, they were only concerned with their upward mobility; being upper middle class and having a big family in a huge house with 4 cars, au pairs, swimming pool, piano lessons, a caravan and a boat. They were not interested in meeting the cultural and spiritual needs of the child[ren], they were only interested in their religious agenda and what a shining example of a Christian rainbow family we were and colour doesn’t matter.  The harsh reality however was that colour mattered very much to the extent none of the White kids or neighbours wanted to associate with us and we were ostracised and subjected to racist gangstalking driven I have to say mostly by working class Whites whose racist name calling emanated directly from the Vicarage Road football terraces, which is why I have an issue with working class racism because it stems directly from socioeconomic jealousy. 

The adoption papers specified the adopters should be able to meet the cultural religious and ethnic needs of the child and my TRA family failed on all three requirements because we never talked about race, Black history, Caribbean culture, how to combat racism and bar one ‘minstrel’ type character in church I never met any Black people until I was 25. We had no frame of reference for identifying with other people of colour and building a sense of pride in being Black / Mixed Race, and that we truly have a stake in society and a place in the world. We only learned about what it means to be a person of colour through the racist gaslighting and gangstalking which went on for 13 years in the class room, in the playground and outside school. Needless to say 13 years of sinister and blatant racist abuse at school coupled with 15 years religious narcissistic abuse behind closed doors took its toll on my mental health and I am spending the rest of my life in recovery from the resultant Complex PTSD, depression, paranoia etc.

As far as the future of TRA I feel on the whole it is a good thing because there are many success stories and there are so many BAME (especially Mixed Race) children waiting for a decent placement, and I’m pretty sure the success stories outweigh the grand fails.  It boils down to the assessment process which is probably more stringent and thorough re meeting the child’s ethnic cultural and spiritual needs than it was 50 years ago, in spite of my adoptive parents indignation at the level of scrutiny but then a narcissist’s greatest fear is exposure.
Extract from When Transracial Adoption Fails” by Paul Girard Egbers-Kane Publ 2022. Download full article below:

*Transracial Adoption: What’s The Problem? – People in Harmony ( by Marie Macey Published 1998, updated 2006