Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023): Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work

When ‘Good intentions’ Backfire: A Case for Non-Transracial Legal Guardianship Rather Than Adoption and Why Transracial Adoptions Are Not Trauma Informed

Chidimma Ozor Commer
University of Massachusetts, Boston

Published 06/14/2023


  • transracial adoption,
  • transnational adoption,
  • grounded theory,
  • trauma informed practices,
  • white saviorism,
  • the white savior industrial complex (WSIC),
  • social policy,
  • abolition
  • ...More


What are the consequences or impacts of transracial adoptions where the adopters are in the United States adopting either in the United States (domestic) or internationally (inter-country)? Findings from this study suggest that transracial adoptions have caused and continue to cause adoptees significant trauma and distress despite healing efforts like therapy, connecting with other transracial adult adoptees, and ceasing contact with adopters, for example. This article explores the experiences of transracial adoptees, the majority of whom use three words to describe the impact of their adoptions—trauma, grief, and loss. The primary recommendation is for the abolition of transracial adoptions, whether within the United States (domestic) or international (inter-country) as they are a harmful and legal mechanism that causes family separation and loss despite incorporating trauma informed practice. Non-transracial legal guardianship is a more trauma informed approach than transracial adoption that can ensure that children are safe and living in a home that allows them to not only survive, but thrive. These recommendations can be implemented if social workers are trained to be part of the solution of mitigating harm to children, rather than being complicit by allowing transracial adoption to continue.