Interacial Adoptions Essay, Research Paper
December 03, 1998
Interracial Adoptions is when a family adopts a child of another race or culture. Traditionally adoption has been a relatively straight forward procedure. Children were mostly adopted by heterosexual, dual-parent households of the same race. But, America is changing. American’s are becoming more tolerant of interracial adoptions, adoptions by single-parent families and adoptions by gay and lesbian couples. Adoptions is now more than a moral issue, it is now a ethnic issue also.
Adoptions date back to the early nineteenth century. “In 1851, Massachusetts passed a legislation that enabled parents of adopted children to have legal parental rights to their children.” (Twohig, 1997). Before Massachusetts passed this legislation, a parent had to be genetically related to a child to have any legal rights to their children. “In 1881, a Michigan legislature passed a law that required judges to investigate and evaluate the families that wanted to adopt a child.” (Twohig, 1997). Different legislation’s basically set the stage for child rights in regards to adoption procedures.
The adoption process got pretty crazy as a result of the World Wars. Numerous children were left orphaned and homeless. These children were in desperate need of homes. Because of this, there was an uprising in adoptions. The more uprising that occurred, the more legislation regulated adoptions.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s another monumental shift changed the views of adoption. With unwed mothers lessening and the legalization of abortion by the 1973 Roe v. Wade trial, the number of healthy, white infants adoptees dropped. Even though there wasn’t that many white babies to be adopted, African-American babies swamped the adoption agencies. Their weren’t enough African-American families interested or able to adopt these children. The interracial adoption debate became an ethical and moral dilemma. Childless couples only had one option and their option was to adopt a baby of a different race. There was a great deal of opposition when children were being adopted by a family of a different race and ethnicity. Major groups of opposition were from the ethnic based organizations, such as the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW).
The National Association of Black Social Workers is an international organization composed of social workers and others in related fields. The purpose of the NABSW is to address the issues of social welfare effecting African-Americans. The NABSW was primarily responsible for the freezing of interracial adoptions . The NABSW made strong public statements against placing colored children in white homes. Their primary concern was the identity crisis the children would face as they grew up and the preservation of cultural heritage. The NABSW would rather have a child in a foster home than endanger the child’s understanding of what is means to be an African-American.
In 1972, The NABSW is used a resolution opposing the growing practice of placing African-American children in need of adoptive homes with white parents. “The resolution as not based on racial hatred or bigotry, nor was it an attack on white parents. The resolution was not based on any belief that white families could not love black children, nor did we want African-American children to languish in foster care rather than be placed in White adoptive homes.” (Neal, 1993). It was said that African-American families, who tried to adopt children often had to deal with discrimination or discouragement.
“The National Association of Black Social Worker to position against transracial adoption in order to: (1) preserve African-American families and culture; (2) enable African-American children to appreciate their culture of origin through living within a family of the same race and culture; (3) enable African-American children to learn how to
cope with racism through living with families who experience racism daily and have learned to function well in spite of that racism; and (4) to break down the systemic barriers that make it difficult for African-American and other families of color to adopt.” (Smith 1994).
Those who also opposed interracial adoptions believed that White families chose to adopt African-American children simply because of the shortage of healthy, white babies. White couples who were interested in interracial adoption viewed the adoption as a positive opportunity. The majority of couples looking to adopt did so because they couldn’t have children of their own.
The National Association of Black Social Workers position forced child care agencies to examine their policies and helped highlight the inequalities in the child welfare system that did not give African-American equal access to African-American
children. It also made agencies take into consideration the concept of the importance of maintaining the child’s culture and origin.
Three studies were done to question the child care agencies. They are: (1) Barriers to Same Race Placement (1991), (2) Black Pulse Survey (1981 & 1993) and (3) Community Response to Children Free for Adoption (1984).
The Barriers to Same Race Placement study was conducted by the North American Council on Adaptable Children. It revealed that agencies run by African-Americans were successful in placing 94% of their African-American children with African-American families. It said that “Child caring agencies who are having difficulty working with the African-American community need to consult with African-American agencies to learn their successful strategies.” (Ramos 1996). It also concluded that numerous agencies have many African-American families that do adopt.
The Black Pulse Survey, showed that there were three million African-American couples interested in adoption. “There are approximately 69,000 children with the goal of adoption nationwide and 43% of these children are African-American (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990). “If only a fraction of the families
interested in adoption were approved there would be enough African-American families to adopt Black children.” (NABSW, 1994).
The Community Response to Children Free of Adoption study found out that African-American families adopt 4.5 times greater than any other ethnic group. “If the barriers that keep thousands of African-Americans from adopting were eliminated and
recruitment efforts were consistent and ongoing, Black children would be placed in African-American homes in even greater numbers.” (Ramos, 1996).
In contrast, advocates of interracial adoption questioned the motives and beliefs of the ethnic groups. Advocates for interracial adoption believed that a African-American child could be taught about his or her ethnic background by anyone who parents them, regardless of their cultural heritage. The African-American agencies that were formed to help protect the welfare of African-American children were not formed in the mid 1960’s when the problem of African-American children reached the status of an epidemic. They were formed when interracial adoptions became increasingly popular. It appeared that the African-American community did not show a strong interest in the welfare of their children until they were crossing the color lines.
Well the debates between the advocates and the anti-advocates for interracial adoptions didn’t end there. The NABSW accused the child care agencies of catering to the middle class, white couples. They also said that white social workers looked at interracial adoptions as a chance for African-American children to climb up the social class ladder. The NABSW came to this conclusion since white middle class couples were able to provide adopted children with the comforts of suburban life.
It seems that economically deprived families, white or back, are willing to adopt if they had the resources. Studies show that poverty is more rampant in African-American communities. Historically, families in the lower class have higher birth rates and don’t have the resources to provide for their offspring, let alone a adopted child. “Because of the economic and social status, African-Americans are said to contribute more babies to be put up for adoption, as opposed to being the ones able to adopt them.” (Bates, 1993).
Interracial Adoptions have increased due to the shortage of white babies available for adoption. Contrary to the popular belief, interracial adoptions have little effect in decreasing the numbers of children in care because most of them have special needs and are teenagers. Only 4% of children available are infants. Most of the white couples who
consider interracial adoption want infants and toddlers. There is no shortage of African-American families for such children.
In 1995, Liberal Democrat Senator Howard Metzenbaum proposed a bill to prevent discrimination in adoption cases because of race. This bill has “thrown away” by the Department of Health and Human Services because of the opposition of transracial adoptions by black social workers. They called it “Racial Genocide” (Hunt, 1995) Due to the new welfare bill approved by the House Ways and Means, it is illegal for adoption agencies that get federal funds to discriminate.
Because of the black social workers, thousands of black children have been disadvantaged. “There are as many as 100,000 children in foster care today waiting to be adopted and 40% are African-Americans” (Hunt, 1995) These African-American children wait twice as long as white children to be adopted.
One concern of some African-American families is that an adoption can cost some where between $5,000 to $10,000. These prices can amount to economic discrimination. To make it easier for adoptees. The GOP contract promises a $5,000 refundable tax credit for adoption for anyone making up to $60,000 a year.
“There is no suggestion from proponents of interracial adoptions that White children who are “languishing in the system” be adopted by African-Americans or other people of color (Anderson, 1971). Most of the time, African-American families who have tried to adopt white children have been blocked by child agencies and courts.
There have been numerous cases against adoption agencies, hospital, and state courts concerning interracial adoptions. “Forty-three states have laws that encourage public adoption agencies to match a child with prospective parents of the same race.” (Holmes, 1995) Again, it is brought up that social workers want to preserve the child’s cultural identities and they often use these laws to keep black children in foster care in order to conduct searches for black families willing and able to adopt.
Sue Dows, a recent adoptee of a African-American child, is proud of what she done. Her and her family consider their adopted son as one they gave both two. She always get weird looks and stares from people. But, she pays no attention to them. It makes her want to smile and hug Jared (her son) more and more. She feels the “hasslers” just simply lack understanding and compassion. In a year or two they are looking to adopt a brother or sister for Jared.
Adoption is supposed to be a service to children, not parents. Adult adoptees of all races say that they have a human right to know their heritage. They are demanding more openness in adoptions and search for their birth parents. “Children placed with families of the same culture and race suffer great loss issues due to their separation from their biological families. Children placed interracially suffer a double loss because they have lost their cultural and racial connections as well (Neal, 1993).
I personally feel that a child is a child, no matter what race they are. Either way the adopting family will care and love that child through thick and thin. If they wouldn’t then they shouldn’t be looking to adopt. I don’t see why there is such a huge debate about interracial adoptions. I understand everything about culture and heritage, but they child could be doing so much better with a family rather than sitting in a foster home “waiting” for the right parents.
Now that I am older and matured, I fully believe that the race issue in America will never be defeated. No matter what new laws the government makes there will still be racist people out there. It is wrong, but really we have all tried to change people’s views and we can’t continue to beat a dead horse. The white house and reporters need to focus on more important things such as the race problem rather than spending too much time on irrelevant things, such as the situation with President Clinton.
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