Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Color Me Happy
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. In fact, some of the largest adoption advocacy organizations (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) are requesting that another look be taken at adoption of African American children into White families. I don’t think I agree with their statements.
Yes, more minority adoptive families need to be recruited, and yes, money needs to be spent on this effort. Yes, transracial adoptive families need training and counseling, not just before a child of another race is placed in their family, but as an ongoing program. Yes, White families need to be sensitive to the cultural past and present of their minority children, and yes, they should take an active stance to make sure the child maintains ties to that culture. But no, children, no matter what their race, should not languish in foster care waiting for the ‘perfect’ family to adopt them.
Of my four children, three are adopted. I am Caucasian, as is my birth son. Ashley is of Italian heritage. Jessica is Latino, and Corey is Native American. Ashley, Jessica and Corey had negative experiences in foster care. Abuse, both physical and sexual – exposure to drugs and alcohol – lack of services to address their special needs – these are just a small sampling of what they experienced in foster care. Had their social workers been holding out for the perfect family (2 parent, same race), all three may have still been in foster care, or worse yet, institutionalized. My family may not be perfect in some people’s eyes, but my children have all flourished and have grown into remarkable young men and women.
I think it is time to set aside race as an issue in raising happy, healthy children. Training, counseling and sensitivity are definitely needed, but so are permanent homes – regardless of the color of one’s skin, regardless of the texture of one’s hair, regardless of the shape of one’s eyes, and regardless of one’s abilities or lack thereof.
Here are links to two of the articles which appeared on the news yesterday: