Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption (Hardcover)

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A man, a woman, and their biological children, all of the same race, the mythical "nuclear family" has been the bedrock of American cultural, religious, social, and economic life since the Revolutionary War, and even with all the changes we have absorbed in the last sixty years, it essentially remains so. Current trends in adoption, however, have begun to shift the dominant paradigm of the family in ways never before imagined. Professional estimates show that in the United States today, seven million families have been formed by adoption, and 700,000 of them are interracial. These still-growing numbers have begun to radically change the face of the traditional American family.

Barbara Katz Rothman, a noted sociologist who has explored motherhood in four previous books and has more recently explored the social implications of the human genome project, now turns her eye toward race and family. Weaving together the sociological, the historical, and the personal, Barbara Katz Rothman looks at the contemporary American family through the lens of race, race through the lens of adoption, and all-family, race, and adoption-within the context of the changing meanings of motherhood. She asks urgent and provocative questions about children as commodities, about "trophy" children, about the impact of genetics, and about how these adopted children will find their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities

Drawing on her own experience as the white mother of a black child, on historical research on white people raising black children from slavery to contemporary times, and pulling together work on race, adoption, and consumption, Rothman offers us new insights for understanding the way that race and family are shaped in America today. This book is compelling reading, not only for those interested in family and society, but for anyone grappling with the myriad issues that surround raising a child of a different race.

About the Author


Barbara Katz Rothman is a professor of sociology at the City University of New York. She has served as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and of Sociologists for Women in Society. Her previous books include "The Book of Life, Recreating Motherhood, The Tentative Pregnancy," and "In Labor." She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Praise For…


What a fine and complex book this is! Barbara Katz Rothman takes us, with lucidity and (often brave) good humor, through the tangle of pains and satisfactions that come with her family's challenge to the racial status quo.--Rosellen Brown, author of Half a Heart and Before and After

"Is it right for white parents to adopt African-American children? How does a white parent expose her black daughter to two cultures? Protect the child from insensitive remarks? Sociologist Barbara Katz Rothman . . . doesn't just describe what it's like to be the white mother of a black girl. Rothman skillfully debates adoption ethics, the commodification of children, and the politics of inequality in America."--Anne E. Stein, Chicago Tribune

"In Weaving a Family, the sociologist and white mother of an African American girl provides an accessible, sensitive portrayal of the inherent sociological complexities of mixed-race adoption and parenting."--Melissa Chianta, Mothering

"A bold and passionate autobiographical account . . . of a white mother raising her adopted black daughter. Rothman is a loving mother and also a fine sociologist. The blend of these gives us an honest and insightful book. A must read."--Arlie Hochschild, author of The Commercialization of Intimate Life

"A revealing personal account which combines sound sociological knowledge and current data with a firsthand, intimate portrayal of multiracial family life. For families contemplating transracial adoption, or interracially adoptive families, this book should be read."--Professor Howard Altstein, University of Maryland School of Social Work

"Weaving a Family makes a remarkably original contribution to the literature on race and adoption. Writing as a mother and a sociologist, Barbara Katz Rothman provides insightful, urgent lessons on mothering children in a racist world . . . Weaving a Family is ultimately hopeful about the possibility of building just and loving relationships across racial borders."--Dorothy Roberts, author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare

Product Details
ISBN: 9780807028285
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: May 15th, 2005
Pages: 288