White or Other: Who Do Transracial Adoptees Pick as Partners?

By Guest Writer Sunny J. Reed - No, really. I want to know.

2 years ago

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Style blogger Eliza Romero wrote an illuminating piece on Asian girl/White guy relationships. Romero suggests that:

Asian women have been societally influenced to think that white men are more attractive than Asian men because western media has emasculated Asian men.

Whitewashed beauty saturation is Western society’s hallmark. So what happens to the love lives of transracially adopted Asians/Blacks/Browns?

If White is all they know, it may be natural for transracial adoptees to both identify as White and date White.

Racism complicates things. If a transracial adoptee encounters racism within the family or community — but isn’t equipped with survival skills — then gravitating subconsciously toward the favorable group makes sense. (Undetermined: Whether this is a protective measure or true preference.)

I was raised White. White became both my battlefield and my [dis]comfort zone. Like other researchers have surmised, the “desire to play a White identity” might override a person’s entire self-perception, leading them to consider in-race dating unfavorable.

Eliza Romero later wrote that Asian men who “pull white girls” as wives or girlfriends are still disadvantaged. Romero considers them contributors to White supremacy, with Asian males feeding off the White girl’s privilege. (Not that I agree, but it’s an interesting proposition.)

Here I’d argue that emasculation of Asian men presents an additional puzzle for transracially adopted males: They’re raised within the group that’s sometimes romantically unreceptive to them. Kim Park Nelson’s observation — “the powerful role of whiteness as a race-neutralizing human identity” — might not work so well for Asian males as it does for their female counterparts.

Consider this as well: Kumiko Nemoto observes that “the media has bombarded society with images in which white female beauty is associated with symbolic capital as a source of power and status.” Would Asian males — especially adopted ones — really use interracial marriage to claw their way to the top of the racial hierarchy?

I believe no one would conciously make such a futile effort or a choice. Still, the negative messages society sends people of color undoubtedly influence romantic paths. By choosing White partners, are transracial adoptees elevated to their White family’s status?

Photo of Asian man and white woman

Your Turn

Academic research has focused on interracial relationships, but transracial adoptees need their space, too.

Transracial adoptees, help me (and the industry) out: How have your relationships aligned with this emerging research?

Transracial adoptee parents: How have you viewed your son or daughter’s choice of partners?


Sunny writes about transracial adoption, race, and the American family. She also contributes to Intercountry Adoptee Voices, an adoptee-led site supporting research by intercountry adoptees. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Published 2 years ago