NEW YORK (AP) -- 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...For those few of you that don't know, I'm a white foster dad with two black daughters, and so at least to a small extent I'm sympathetic to the argument that there are special problems that come with that. I suspect that because a) they are young, b) they are cute, and c) they are girls, we probably have not incurred the kind of racism we would if they were, say, teenage boys.
Of the black children adopted out of foster care, about 20 percent are adopted by white families. The Donaldson report said current federal law, by stressing color blindness, deters child welfare agencies from assessing families' readiness to adopt transracially or preparing them for the distinctive challenges they might face.
"There is a higher rate of problems in minority foster children adopted transracially than in-race," said the report. "All children deserve to be raised in families that respect their cultural heritage."
Sure, we've had people tell us, in all earnest, that it's ok to have black friends so long as they don't enter your home, and we've had occasional nasty glares* at the grocery store. As a couple who entered the foster system looking to adopt bi-racial kids, were were prepared for that and expected that. And I frankly don't know that my kids' social lives will be any different if they have white parents or black at home; they'll still be black, living in the same town Gordon Parks once swore he'd never return to (he eventually did and is buried here) because of the ill-treatment he received as a young boy**.
That said, I have a few very significant problems with proposals that seek to take into account race or assign special training before black kids can be placed in a white home, because such training is superficial at best and liberal gatekeeping at worst.
I've been through MAPP classes, the classes that all foster parents and would-be adoptive parents have to take before they can work with state agencies. Rogue is even a certified MAPP trainer. So I think I can say with some authority that they are of limited utility and one will learn far more in a month with foster kids than one ever did "preparing" to get them. I really question the value of any training given by my white social workers on how to raise black kids. Far more valuable is asking a black friend for help with hair care, skin care, and other issues that I as a white parent have never had to deal with.
The second problem is with the phrase "cultural heritage," because it presumes that if you are black, there is something wrong with you taking the majority culture as your own. I guess it means that unless white parents provide rap music, saggy pants, and an unpronouncable name, the kids will never be 'authentic' or something. If you are born black, you are to be permanently, culturally segregated from the majority of your fellow citizens. It's not considered a problem if you're a Korean kid or a Chinese kid or a Romanian kid - I guess there aren't enough of them*** to worry about it - but if you're black, it's black culture for you, buddy. And you can't be named Buddy, either.
But that's not the main problem. As the article notes, black kids already languish longer in the foster system than white kids. That's a system that wounds them, whether it tries to or not, and the longer they remain in the system, the more psychological and emotional damage they accrue. Kids in the system are never settled, they are never secure, they are never "home." And if there's one thing that foster kids need, it's a home, whether mom or dad pays any attention to their "cultural heritage" or not. Anything that throws up roadblocks to getting kids adopted - especially if it allows idealistic, young, childless social workers to act as gatekeepers to keep kids from getting adopted - is going to destroy more kids than will ever be helped by having parents whose skin tone is acceptable within a politically-correct margin of error.
* though more to my wife than I. When she's alone she's seen as a white mom with black kids, when we are together, we're seen as a white couple caring for black kids. They are two completely different things.
** On the upside, it's amazing and heartening how quickly a white couple can be accepted at the "black table" at any event when they show up with black kids. The girls are not mascots (hat tip: Snoop) but they are occasionally keys that can open pretty stubborn doors.
*** Or enough racially-conscious social workers of their particular skin hue, yet.
Image blatantly stolen from Adopt-a-Negro, where you can pick one for your website and never have to put up with social workers checking your CD collection for fiddy.