Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Valerie Gunter, Ph.D

Second Advisor

William R. Donner, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Cynthia Bradley-King, Ph.D.


Numerous studies have been conducted regarding transracial adoptions, many of which address the racial and cultural needs and the development of positive self identities in the children involved. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to evaluate the racial identity development in youth who have turned 18 and aged out of the child welfare system, in relationship to their willingness to be placed transracially. This study sought to discover if a relationship exists between the level of racial identity development of African American youth and their opinions with regards to being adopted by White families. The length of time the youth have been involved in the child welfare system will also be examined as it relates to their perceptions of transracial adoption. Additionally, literature regarding racial identity development in African American youth indicates the importance of a positive racial identity in increasing the likelihood of the youth achieving successful emotional, academic and social outcomes. Positive racial identity is assisted by the socializations messages African American youth receive from their parents and other adult caregivers. This study sought to discover if a difference exists with regards to the level of youth's racial identity and to what extent they received racial socialization messages. To address this issue participants were given the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity-Teen (MIBI-t), and the Teenager Experience with Racial Socialization scale (TERS) to gauge their current level of racial identity and the racial socialization messages they have received. In-depth interviews were also conducted to provide the perceptions of these youth with regards to the transracial adoption of African American children by White families. The data obtained and its relationship to this group's willingness to have been placed with a White family rather than age out of the child welfare system will provide information to those on both sides of the transracial adoption debate, as well as child welfare organizations that are in charge of obtaining permanent placements for youth.