Less of Paige

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Color and family

This post from American Family has had me thinking for two days now.
I didn't comment in the comments section because I don't have all the thinking worked out. So, I am working it out here.

The initial articles are a series of articles, basically about a black family attempting to adopt a white child.

I have several thoughts on this issue. I like the theme that culture and adoption are not simple matters. Because they are not. Hence all the thinking on my part.

To be fair, I will fully disclose: I am white. I have not adopted. I am a social worker. I have worked with biological families at risk of losing their children due to abuse and neglect, with adoptive families adopting primarily from other countries, with families who are adopting or have adopted through foster care, as a state foster care worker, and my current job which is brand new as a private agency therapeutic foster care social worker. That's about 2/3 of my resume, but those are the parts that apply here.

I have always been incredibly passionate about the children I work with. I left my job as a state social worker in foster care in Los Angeles because it was so hard for me that I could not properly advocate for the children in my caseload. I left my job as a social worker in intercountry adoption for many reasons, one of them being that I am at my very core passionate about the children in this country who so desperately need help. Please do not get me wrong, though: I strongly believe that children across the world have no families, are in incredible suffering, and need help of all kinds.

That all being said. The question is- could a black (we will use black, even though it is ridiculous, to avoid the African-American/Jamaican/cuban/etc etc debate) family adopt a caucasian child. They went to several domestic agencies and were finally directed to adopt internationally, from Bulgaria.

I struggle struggle struggle with this. For one thing, what then is the true motivation to adopt??? To prove a point!?!? I cannot think of anything more assinine. Then, my next question: why are they insisting on a white child? I must be very shallow because I do not understand. Is this because they saw white gay people with a "black" child? So, did they think, "let us see: Can we do the same offense to them??"

The problem is, that in this country (and for the sake of length ha ha ha I want to stick with this country), there are many, many black, or African American children who do not have homes. As there are many Caucasian, Hispanic, and a few Asian. And there are, for some reason, not enough foster families or adoptive families. There just aren't. There aren't enough period. There aren't enough "black" families for the "black" children, and so on. So, when there is a family, and there is a child, and they are a match, in the "field", the priority ends up being, can we find this child a family?

Again, please don't get me wrong. Social workers do take ethnicity and culture into account. We really, really do. We try. If there is a black child who needs a home, we will first try to locate for them a "black" family. And so on. However, the grim reality of adoption and foster care in this country is that it's just not that easy. Too many children, not enough families.

That's the bottom line, I guess, for me. Too many children, not enough families. Not enough families who are diverse. The ethniciities of the foster and adoptive families do not perfectly match the ethnicities of children in need. I'm not enough of a sociologist to comment on why that is. But, it is.

I'm not saying that for all pieces of the population who foster and adopt- whether it is a private domestic, or an intercountry adoption, or a foster care of an infant, or older children- that race, culture and ethnicity should be ignored. It should not. because it is a crucial piece of these children and families' lives. But so is having a family, for many of these children.

I know I don't make tons of sense tonight. But this provoked so much thought for me, and I have not yet brought it up with anyone I work with, and needed a place to work it out.


At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Amber said...

While those articles are about a Black family looking for a white child to adopt (which is pretty unusual I would guess), I actually do know of a number of African American families who chose to adopt from China.

If I remember correctly, their reasons were the same as ours: stable program, no chance of the adoption falling through, relatively good health and young age, not dealing with the US foster system, etc.

The topic of the articles is very interesting to me. On the other hand, I think they are somewhat poorly written which leads to more questions than answers when you read them. I also am not exactly sure they could possibly be true given the way the facts were presented.

At 1:36 AM, Blogger FAScinated said...

I just wanted to thank you for your passion for adoption from foster care. You sound like an awesome social worker! (I had insomnia tonight and I found your blog quite by accident, but I'm glad I did!) ~Kari

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a really interesting topic, one I hope you explore further! I'm not sure how I stand on the issue--I think I would have to read the articles you are referencing.

Happy holidays!

Karen/naked ovary


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