This narrative inquiry study focused on the research question: How do lived experiences during college contribute to racial identity formation of Black or biracial students who were adopted domestically by White parents? The purpose of the study was to better understand the racial identity development of transracial adoptees (TRA) during the college years. Data consisted of over 35 hours of interviews conducted with five TRA college juniors and seniors using a series of three interview protocols. The first interview focused on childhood and hometown experiences, the second on life experiences during the college years, and the third interview focused on the meaning participants made from the first two sets of questions. Three principle themes emerged from the data, as well as a variety of sub-themes. The first theme was labeled Difference, with sub-themes of Fitting in, Navigating Black Societal Norms, and Common Experiences. The second theme, Racism, included sub-themes labeled Racist Encounters, Color-blindness/Parental Education, and Preparation Against Racism. The final theme was labeled Resilience, and included the sub-themes Connectedness, Faith, and Counseling. Analysis of interview data revealed three main supports that participants perceived to be instrumental in their racial identity development during college: study abroad experiences, mentors, and diversity/ethnic studies courses. Implications for practice include adding adoption-related items to admissions questionnaires, situating supports for TRA students within a specific office such as Multi-Cultural Centers or Wellness Centers, and adding training in adoption issues for on-campus counselors and student affairs professionals.
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© Copyright by Anne-Elizabeth C. Powell 2017