Overlooked Adoptees

This photo was taken in March of 2021 shortly after the Atlanta spa shooting.

The Effects of COVID-19 Racism and Ethnic Identity on the Psychological Well-Being of Chinese Transracial Adoptees in the United States

An independent research project by Zoe E. Seymore


Previous research has shown how Asian Americans have experienced discrimination during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and how that discrimination has impacted their mental health (Cheah et al., 2020; Litam & Oh, 2020; McDermott, 2021). Transracial adoptees have been shown to have more identity crises due to their ethnicities being different compared to their adoptive parents. This causes them to feel like an outsider because they have no links to their birth heritage (Chen, 2020; Li & Nicholson, 2020; Reny & Barreto, 2020). Adoptees who experience ethnic-related discrimination have been shown to suffer from various mental and physical stressors, including depression and sleep issues (Ferrari et al., 2017). Thus, this study looked at the effects of perceived discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic and ethnic identity on the psychological well-being of Chinese transracial adoptees in the United States. Results indicate that adoptee identity, ethnic identity, and prejudice were not significant predictors for psychological well-being. However, ethnic identity was found to be a significant predictor of collective self-esteem. Moreover, common themes surrounding connecting with Chinese and adoptee identity were shown through interview analyses.

Keywords: Asian American racism, COVID-19 racism, adoptee identity, psychological well-being, ethnic identity

important terms

transracial adoptee

refers to a person adopted into a family where at least one parent is either a different race and/or ethnicity from their birth family (e.g. a Chinese child adopted by a white mom) (Ferrari et al., 2017; Park, 2012; Stefon, 2015).

international adoptee

refers to a person adopted into a family from a different country (e.g. a Chinese person in China adopted by an American family in the United States). These adoptions are not always transracial (e.g. a Chinese person from China adopted by a Chinese family in America) (Stefon, 2015)

Chinese American transracial and international adoptee

this refers to an individual who was born in China and was adopted by a family in the United States where at least one parent is of a different race and/or ethnicity as them. While the adoptees themselves may not identify with all of these titles, this is how they are referred to in the study