Monday, May 08, 2006

Transracial Adoption Makes Philly Headlines

The front page of the Philly Inquirer today carries a story about the lingering dilemma over transracial adoptions. Inspired of course by the recent court battle over a Black foster child who was removed from his White foster parents in Chester County, PA (you can read about the case in previous postings below), the article profiles two Black men in their 30s who have identity issues because they were raised by White parents.

The story breaks no new ground, nor illuminates any new facts. Instead the reporter informs us that transracial adoptions are still problematic for the African-American children who grow up without a sense of Black identity, for the community of social service providers who still can't decide if it is racially irresponsible to place a colored child with a White family, and for the world at large which can't wrap its collective mind around a white woman pushing a colored kid in a swing at the park and he calls her mommy. It seems nobody is at peace with the concept, especially those Black people who still consider transracial adoption "cultural genocide."

Of course what is missing from the conversation, in my humble opinion, is the voice of middle class Black people who might be in a position to adopt these children themselves. Do they have any responsibility to "take care of their own?" It's like, we don't want Whitey to have our kids, but then who will? The fact is there are just a whole lot of Black kids in need of parents. And it's not like White people are out there clamoring to get their hands on a Black child of their own. I'd bet they'd like a kid that looks like them any day, but if Black is what they get when they try to adopt in the United States, then they take that child home and try to love him/her up.

I believe when asked if he talks to his biracial son about race, Tom Cruise said it best by answering, "What's there to talk about?" And that's what scares most Black people and scars the children for life. You can't ignore RACE. Parents who adopt across color lines can't pretend that their Black child will thrive if they just pretend his Black skin is the same as their White skin. From figuring out how to care for their hair, to exposing him/her to a rich Black cultural history, White parents of Black children have to do extra. But the bottom line is, until we as a society figure out how to stop producing unwanted Black children, then we will have to figure out a way to make transracial adoptions work.

And that's all she wrote.

And here's a Melting Pot Moment:
According to the Adoption History Project at the University of Oregon, the first Black child in America adopted by a white family was in 1948 in Minnesota. Wonder what that was like?


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