The Role of Cross-cultural Experiences and Ethnic Identity in Transracial Adoptees' Self-esteem

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Stephenson, Jocylynn Briann
Leslie, Leigh A
Research into mental health outcomes of minority transracial adoptees has been fueled by debate over white parents' ability to prepare minority children for experiences of individual and institutional racism. However, studies show transracial adoptees do not differ from others in self-esteem, one criterion used to gauge mental health. Among minorities, ethnic identity is correlated with self-esteem, but studies show that transracially adopted adolescents often face ambiguous ethnic identity. Cross-cultural experiences have proven to increase ethnic identity in minorities, but little research has been done on their effect among transracial adoptees. The current study explored whether cross-cultural experiences bolster self-esteem in minority transracial adoptees through mediation of adoptees' ethnic identity. One-hundred-three transracially adopted minority adolescents completed online self-report surveys. Results indicated a significant negative link between cross-cultural experiences and ethnic identity and a moderately significant negative link between cross-cultural experiences and self-esteem in this population. Findings and possible explanations are discussed.