As a psychologist, counselor, educator, and researcher, my worked has spanned each of these disciplines but has always been focused on the central themes of adoption, race, culture, identity, and counseling/therapy. I have been fortunate to have the mentorship and support to formulate theoretical frameworks and postulate new conceptions for understanding the intersection of these themes. Although you can learn more about the published results of my work by looking at a selected list of my publications, I wanted to share information about a few of my more foundational scholarship that has both guided and emerged from my work in transracial and international adoption. The Cultural-Racial Identity Model and the construct and process of Reculturation are two frameworks that I have collaboratively constructed.

Briefly, the Cultural-Racial Identity Model is a way of understanding the unique identity experiences of transracial and international adoptees (TRIAS). Given that TRIAS are predominantly adopted by parents who are racially and culturally different from their birth origin groups, distinctions must be made between racial experiences and cultural experiences and how those impact the identities of TRIAS. This model recognizes that adoptees may have varying levels of ability and interest in identifying with people from their own, their adoptive parents’, and other racial groups. Furthermore, adoptees also have a range of identification levels with their birth cultures, adoptive parents’/lived culture, and other cultures. I collaborated with Dr. Robbie Jean Steward to create this model. To learn more about the Cultural-Racial Identity Model, click here. 

The construct of Reculturation was formulated in response to the need to better understand the experiences of TRIAS as they develop their relationships with their birth cultures and their lived cultures. A common misconception of TRIAS is that adoptees’ lived cultures are the same as their birth cultures. However, few TRIAS are truly raised within their birth cultures and instead may visit or tour representations of their birth cultures. As a result of their adoption and placement into a culturally different family, most TRIAS essentially lose their identification with their birth cultures and must go through a process of reclaiming that lost birth culture. This framework is the result of a collaboration with Lisa M. Treweeke and Dr. Muninder K. Ahluwalia. To learn more about Reculturation, click here. 

Click the links above to learn more about each model.