Adoption doublespeak

Posted: May 27, 2008 in Commentary, Mentoring, Our children

NEW YORK (AP) — Several leading child welfare groups Tuesday urged an overhaul of federal laws dealing with transracial adoption, arguing that black children in foster care are ill-served by a “colorblind” approach meant to encourage their adoption by white families.

Recommendations for major changes in the much-debated policy were outlined in a report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

“Color consciousness — not ‘color blindness’ — should help to shape policy development,” the report said.

Groups endorsing its proposals included the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Child Welfare League of America, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the National Association of Black Social Workers.

At issue is the 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act — and revisions made to it in 1996 — governing the adoption of children from foster care.

One part of the law directs state agencies to recruit more adoptive parents of the same race as the children. The new report says this provision hasn’t been adequately enforced and calls for better funded efforts to recruit minority parents.


A key recommendation in the new report calls for amending the law so race could be considered as a factor in selecting parents for children from foster care. The change also would allow race-oriented pre-adoption training. (more…)

Several points went through my mind as I read this article this morning.

#1 – If race is to be used as a factor as to who can adopt whom based on race, I propose that the same standard should be applied based on the sexual orientation of the potential parents. The very same arguments that are being used in this case (White parents are ill-equipped to educate Black kids on the nuances of race) can also be applied to gay parents who wish to adopt “straight” kids (can a person with effeminate tenancies train a boy to become a man?). Same also applies to lesbians. Why can’t the same ying-yang that is kicked about gay parents as just as loving as straight parents be applied for straight White parents?

#2 – Once again, this issue portrays Blacks as weak and lacking the ability to adapt to unique situations that could ultimately help them. Whites adopt Asian children all the time and very little noise about development is brought up. In fact, the media celebrates it. Why? Because the assumption is that Asian kids can easily adapt. Same treatment has been seen with Whites who adopt children from African. Black American kids? Black assembly required.

#3 – Possibly the strongest out of the 3 points is that White parents raising Black children do not fit the narrative “Never trust Whitey”. Let’s be honest here, if you are Black and born in this country, you have been told by at least one parental figure in some form or fashion not to trust White people. You can work with them, live near them, play with them, but never trust them as you would your own. Part of this is just plain ol’ tribalism that can be found in any race. But the other part, IMO is rooted in foolishness at the expense of tens of thousands of Black children who, for various reasons will not be adopted by their own.

Interracial adoption is a topic I have written about many times in the past and my opinion about it has not changed. I believe that if a couple or a family is willing to love, nurture and invest all that is needed to into the life of a child, the race of the parent should NOT be something taken into consideration.

Now, would White parents be able to translate every nod, gesture, comment or any other form of communication that is made amongst other Blacks? Probably not. On the flip side, would those same White parents have the experience to train up their adopted Black kids to think generational when it comes to things like finances? Probably so.

One of the biggest problems that I have with this whole debate is that while many Black ideologues turn up their nose at White folks taking care of Black kids, it is their own biases that are robbing these children from something many of them had as children: A family.

  1. Seth says:

    This is the same insipid race based argument that certain groups float every couple of years.

    These race based adoption groups, don’t care that there are far too many Black kids in foster care, not having the love and attention of a permanent family, not able to form with confidence these familial bonds that take us through life.

    The problem is they have a very low opinion of other Americans of different color, When if not now, are we going to create a color blind society, an equal society without regard to color or gender, or are we doomed to listen to those rear looking groups who are afraid of change as this would threaten their own power base.

    Children are just that, children. They are neither Black or White, just our little miracles, and it’s those adults Black/White who need to grow up and appreciate this new multi-racial world that we are on the cusp of creating.

    There is always this statement “it’s not me, it’s other who will have a problem” well actually it’s you, it’s really you.

  2. Darrell says:

    This country needs to move forward. The more people we continue to support choices based on race the more we separate this country. Unless you are a first generation immigrant you are American and that’s about it. You’re not Irish, Scottish, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, African etc you are Americans. We owe it to all kids to give them the best that we are able. This country has to many issues at the moment and we cannot afford not teaching every single kid good values and leadership. You have racists growing more racist in every ethic background. It’s time to forget the past and move forward. When I read articles about foster care selected by race it makes me rage. Having adopted ten children of all races I will inform you that these kids excel in every area. With so few people willing to adopt the last thing these children need is less chances of becoming successful. With all the unwanted children, drug problems and inadequate parenting why do you think it satisfactory to isolate the only group of people making a difference. Foster parents do not need this and I will inform you that these kids need to belong and they are happy just to find a home regardless of the race.

  3. Suzy says:

    I am mother of six sons, five of those are non-white. They were adopted from infancy and raised to know that they are children of color. Oh yeah we have a mirror so they figure it out on their own too.

    A student from a local university came interviewed my older children who were in their late teens about being raised by white parents. She found that they had not been harmed by the experience. Child number one is his second year of college at William & Mary, child number two leaves for his apprenticeship as an electrician working on the naval shipyard in a few weeks, horrors!

    Children 4-6 are honor roll students, athletes and all around good people. They are raised to care more about others than themselves, something this generation isn\’t learning in most homes regardless of race.

  4. Give it a rest! says:


    You appear to be totally missing the point here. Now I have working in a goverment run childrens welfare agency and I can tell you first hand that these black children in Foster care are the FORGOTTEN children of this world.

    Believe it or not it is very difficult to even get black folks to adopt these children. West Indians with the means and desire to adopt generally adopt children from their own country, Africans in American also do the same thing. The Latinos also adopt children with the same heritage. Whites will generally adopt ANYTHING but a black child from the inner city. A majority of African-Americans with the mindframe to adopt end up careing for children of their OWN relatives.

    The point you are missing is that the people that deal with this problem on a day to day basis are just being down-right realistic here! When it come to children and adpotion Colorblindness is a bunch of BS. When you deal with the few black parents that want to adopt you will find that guess what, they want AA children and not children of other race. Like it or not most people want to truly raise these children like their own family and NOT create a new situation that does resemble FOSTER CARE in the child’s eyes. This is America and it IS hard to raise a child of another race, it is not like we all live in intergrated coummunities!

    The goal here is to make it more conducive for blacks to adopt black children. Getting black folks more involved in this game is HONESTLY the only real hope for these kids. We have no problems getting blacks to be foster parents, where they get PAID$$$$ to do so, but actually keep the child and make him/her a real part of the family, NO! It cost too much and the money stops coming in.

    Suzy, my heart does go out to you. You are truly one in a million! For the rest of the black folks here going on about how this should be a color-blind society, GET FREAKIN REAL ALREADY! If you really care contact NYC ACS they have countless black children under their care that do need real homes.

  5. Michael D. Houst says:

    This drive to require additional training for white adopters of black children is a thinly veiled attempt by racists to prevent the adoption of black children by whites. Very pretty disguise under the false flag of “cultural preservation”.

    The minute cultural preservation takes precedence over the well-being of the child is when an organization has failed in protecting the child. Look at the successful blacks in America today and you will see people who place the “economic culture” ahead of “black culture”. That doesn’t mean giving up their roots, only not being dominated by them. Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, and many others are successful for two reasons: One, they don’t define their primary selves as being Black; and two, they immersed themselves in becoming the best they can be in the fields they choose to work in.

    These two reasons condense into one truism. If your sole claim to pride is your “Blackness”, then you have no more claim to power or uniqueness than someone who is Irish, Italian, Japanese, Indian, etc. Pride goeth before the fall, and to too many people “Black” means poor, diseased, uneducated, violent, drug abusing dropouts living in run-down inner cities or poor sharecroppers; not exactly an image to take pride in, is it?

    Black children adopted by whites can choose what culture they want to identify with when they grow up. They (generally) have the benefit of living in a successful family since most adopters have considerable discretionary income. They receive educational equality. In short, they have no cultural baggage to hold them back. Sure, they run into racial bias. But they know how they are supposed to be treated, and they have fewer problems with getting treated as they should. They know how to play the game and it isn’t as a victim, but as a winner.

    Finally, if cultural education is a requirement for adoption of blacks by whites, it is an unconstitutional requirement. Cultural education should not even be an option. Why should it be available only for whites adopting blacks? Why can’t whites choose to have their white children be brought up in a black cultural setting? Does that sound stupid? If it does, then it’s just as stupid for any other combination too.

  6. DM3 says:

    This article makes me sick, my wife and I are white as you put it and can not have children do you medical reasons, and we adopted two children who are not white. We love our kids and could not image life not having our kids. This is not a black or white thing, it’s a love thing! If there are families who want to adopt, it should not matter if they are white, black, brown or rainbow color.

    I think every parent who wants to have children should go through the exhausting process (background checks, numerous house inspections, the cost, etc…) like adoptive parents do, there would be a lot less unfit parents out there. Try focusing your efforts on educating the unfit parents and maybe the number of disadvantaged children would drop.


  7. michelle says:

    Fact of the matter is African Americans have a long history of adopting children that dates from slavery when families were sold from one another. My grandparents died when my mother was 2. Her mother, ill with tb found homes for all six of her children before entering the hospital. She did not expect to die but when she did these families kept the children. Of course this was the 1940’s and they were placed without the intervention of the state.

    I wonder if this could have happened if the state was involved. Sure there is an idea of not trusting white people however I think that that biggest issue is having people get into your business. There are plenty of acceptable African American candidates that might consider adopting until the consider having the state all up in your business. Nothing in our history as African Americans says that is a good thing.

    There is an emphasis of trying to place foster children’s with their parents when a parents rights are terminated. Often this just makes no sense. Their parents are a product of these families.

    Kids in foster care go through so much at such a young age that the idea that someone is going to adopt them and their love is going to cancel all they have experienced is plain silly. How any problems kids adopted by white parents, to their parents skin color after what these kids have experienced is beyond me totally.

  8. DM3 says:

    Your last statement makes no sense, love and caring is a starting point for these kids, and then the trust will come in time.

    As for your comment of: ‘having the state all up in your business’, what are you trying to hide? Are you saying black families trying to adopt should be able to bypass the ‘process’ to they don’t have to jump through the hoops of the adoption process.


  9. DM3 says:

    Your last statement makes no sense, love and caring is a starting point for these kids, having someone who cares about them, and then the trust will come in time.

    As for your comment of: ‘having the state all up in your business’, what are you trying to hide? Are you saying black families trying to adopt should be able to by pass the adoption ‘process’ so they don’t have to jump through the hoops of the adoption process and go through the typical background/life/financial/home checks like the rest of us just because they are black and want to adopt a black child. That is a silly statement!

    Making the adoption process ever harder than it is now sounds like a wonderful idea, I’m sure more families will jump right in the adoption process, good luch with that!


  10. Rebecca says:

    I just noticed the article on CNN.

    I am mortified that this is even an item of discussion by our society. In situations where sadly children are even in the foster care system to began with I think it is disgusting that this is what the focus is.

    One, how obsurd to hold onto the fact that you didn’t know how to fix your hair when you were younger. My mother who is white and grew up in her own family – had curly hair that people used to refer to as ‘black’ hair, noone taught her how to fix it. They were poverty stricken and she instead focused on more important things – like caring for her siblings. In turn she didn’t teach my older sister how to fix her hair either. But my older sister learned, as a parent I know it isnt possible to teach my own daughter everything. I am going to miss something, it’s inevitable… and if I instead strive to be her only influence how will she ever grow into her own person.

    Two, my family adopted my sister from South Korea, so race if it is an issue needs to be addressed from all spectrums not just the white and black. My sister lacks the culture of her heritage as well – the only being or beings at fault for her loss of that knowledge are her biological parents. How obsurd to suggest that the adoptive parents are at fault for the lack of culture in the child’s life. My parents aren’t Korean – obviously they know that – but they are willing to offer their love, their support, their home and their heart to care for a child that is in need of these things. Now as my sister has grown, she’s blossomed into a beautiful person – she may have struggled at times to fit in LIKE EVERY CHILD DOES AT ONE POINT IN THEIR LIFE, but my parents have gone above and beyond to fill in for that fact, the fact that they aren’t Koren. We have friends and family with others that have choosen to adopt children from Korea and/or Asia, we are apart of an organization that celebrates the asian history and tradition throughout the year, my sister took classes to learn the Korean language, the adoptive agency holds camps for the adoptive children as well to talk with one another – not about their race – but about their struggle from being adopted as a whole. You see every child lacks something depending on their perspective – even the children you bring into this world by birth. My parents took my sister to Korea to learn more and meet her birth mother as well, we currently have a South Korean exchange student living in our house at the moment that is close in age to my sister.

    My parents know they aren’t Korean, they know they would never be able to give her culturally what her biological parents could – like other families who adopt outside their race know they aren’t the same as their child’s biological parents.

    However my parents offered her more then her biological parents did, they offered her a home, a family, love and support and encouragement and opportunity. The opportunity to be more, to be better, better then how she was unfortunately treated when she was a baby, abandoned.

    How incredibly absurd to make race a divide for people who are trying to care for the ones that need it the most. I won’t even get into what people might say about multi-racial couples who have children, like the fact that my husband is mexican and my daughter is half white and half mexican.

    Am I required to take a class?

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