Fall 2023 - Race, Adoption & Foster Care

Rachael Murphey
LS 780-01
Fall 2023
Wednesdays, 6-9 PM
Rueben-Cooke Building 127 [new location]

Instructor: Rachael Murphey, PhD

Course Description
The primary goal of this course is to unpack the dense intersection of race and the adoption and foster care systems in the United States. We will do this by studying the policies and practices of domestic transracial and international or inter country adoption and foster care. We will critically interrogate issues of power and privilege among and between individuals as well as sovereign nations and we will learn from all members of the adoption triad (birth/first parents, adoptees, and adopting parents). We will consider academic research, novels, documentaries and feature films. We will also have presentations from the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, social workers, Guardian Ad Litems, adult transracial and intercountry adoptees, and adoptive parents from Orange and Durham county.

Additional goals for this course include sustained opportunities to engage in debate and discussion, as well as opportunities to research, write persuasively, and present your findings to a larger, non-academic audience.

Course Learning Objectives

After completing this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the historical and systematic factors that fuel adoption and foster care in the U.S. and abroad, including major events, leaders and legislation.
  2. Understand how the US child welfare system functions, under what authority, and the major provisions that guide and fund it.
  3. Identify and explain the ethical issues and conflicts in the history and current policies and practice of intercountry/transnational adoption between the U.S. and Africa, China, Latin America, and Russia.
  4. Identify and critically interrogate how concepts of race, adoption, and foster care are represented through popular culture (television, social media, movies, etc.) in the U.S. and abroad.
  5. Identify and explain how race is understood as a factor of analysis in foster care and adoption placement in Durham and Orange County, North Carolina.
About Rachael Murphey
Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Rachael Murphey is Director of Program II and Dean for Trinity Transfer Students. She manages the Trinity Arts & Sciences Graduation with Distinction Program. Dr. Murphey earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her research centered on the nature of the relationship between racial identity and academic culture and the extent to which such a relationship explains the critical political engagement (CPE) of African American intellectuals.