Race and culture is often ignored in foster care and adoption
The NYTimes.com reports on a federal law that ignores race and culture in foster care and adoptions.
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute – a nonprofit adoption advocacy and research organization based in New York – examined the law’s impact over a decade, and found that children of color, adopted into white households, face special challenges – and that white parents require training to ensure the well-being of the kids.
Because of the research data, the report “recommends that the law – the Multiethnic Placement Act, which covers agencies receiving federal dollars and promotes a color-blind approach, be amended to permit agencies to consider race and culture as one of many factors when selecting parents for children from foster care.”
The report is endorsed by several child welfare organizations – including the Child Welfare League of America, the Adoption Exchange Association, the National Association of Black Social Workers, Voice for Adoption and the Foster Care Alumni of America.
2 thoughts on “Race and culture is often ignored in foster care and adoption”
One needs to look at the report (follow the link) and not just the brief summary above. The report does not call for an outright ban on interracial adoptions. It calls for an assessment of a potential parent’s ability to help a child cope with complex social issues–issues that will surely arise in one form or another. Whether we like it or not there IS racism in America. There are cultural differences, too. The report, wisely I think, simply asks for the law to allow assurances that a prospective parent is prepared to help a child deal with these issues.
As the adoptive white father of a black child (a man now, actually) I can assure you that cultural issues DO arise. Preparation, support and LOTS of emotional resilience are vital. My son Kenny and I negotiated many rough seas together.
As GLBT parents I think we have the potential to be among the best interratial adoptive families around. Each of us has learned to survive and thrive in a homophobic society. We have the resilience our children need, and any support we can get is precious. If we begin an open dialogue about how to support children who are adopted into multi-ethnic familes (and queer ones, of course) I’m all for it. I believe the children will benefit.
This new research seems to be a set up for more bias. It creates an Illusory Correlation between the race of the parents and the race of the adoptive children. By pointing out racial differences (non-colorblind) between the potential parents and the adoptive children, it would create an ever wider “in-group vs. outgroup” (i.e., “us” vs. “them) gap.
This report also seems to be condoning a form of racism by encouraging potential adoptive parents to specifically adopt like-raced children. How are we as a country and culture to decrease (and eliminate?) racism if potential adoptive parents are prescribed children of their same race? The color-blind approach seems to be an optimal way of closing the gap on racism. And, amending it would just be a self-fulfilling prophecy towards racial insensitivity and stereotypes.
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