Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Adoption Across Racial Lines

While sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic along I-4 in downtown Orlando yesterday, I was listening to the Michael Baisden radio program. The topic of discussion was about the foster care system in America and whether white families should be allowed to adopt black children.

While most callers felt that any loving home willing to open itself up to orphans would be worthwhile, some felt that it would be better for African American children to remain in an orphanage or the foster care system rather than become adopted by white parents.

While I understand the thinking that raises concerns about the realities of black children raised by white parents, I also think the overall needs of the child may be overlooked. A statistic quoted on the program caught my attention. It was stated (and backed up here) that "80% of prison inmates have been through the foster care system!" Did you catch that?! Eight out of every ten prisoners were at one time in the foster care system. In addition, 1 out of every 9 African American males between the ages of 20 to 34 are currently in prison. This is a tragedy that needs to be addressed.

Although some feel the solution to these problems is to hire more cops and build bigger jails, I wonder if a better response can be offered. If it is true that 80% of prisoners come from foster care backgrounds, I would think that if those individuals had been adopted as young children by loving parents then the chances of them escaping a criminal lifestyle would be dramatically reduced.

I have some white friends that have adopted black children and it certainly is not without its challenges. Although my friends, along with others in similar situations, may love their adopted children unconditionally, society is going to look at these children differently. They may get stereotyped or treated differently because their parents look different than them. To ignore the inevitable challenges could create even more difficulties. To naively enter into a trans racial adoption without appropriate training and counseling would be unwise. But in the whole scheme of things, isn't it most important that kids longing for a loving and nurturing home get that opportunity when willing adults step forward and make themselves available?

I have nothing but respect for those individuals that have taken the courageous step of adopting kids that need a home. Who knows, perhaps my wife and I may do the same one day? For those that fault white families for adopting black children, my question would be if they have attempted to adopt those children themselves? If they feel so strongly that black children need to be adopted by black parents then they should follow-through on their convictions. If not, then they should support and encourage those that wish to care for these children. Our personal preferences need to be put aside in favor of the interest of children that need a home.

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