Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society

By Katarina Wegar | Go to book overview

13
Interracial Couples,
Multiracial People, and the
Color Line in Adoption

HEATHER M. DALMAGE

A couple of years ago my husband (a black man) and I (a white woman) went through the process of adopting a child. Throughout the process, I had a sense that we were not being treated with the same level of respect as white couples. During a class we were asked to attend, for instance, the social worker spoke about the “rules” of adoption and the costs. It turned out that she was only speaking to the prospective parents of white children. When I asked for clarification, she became flustered. A few days later, we got a call from an agency social worker who stated that they had “red flags” about us and in a subsequent meeting began to run down a laundry list of false accusations (including that we had an attitude and were always late). When we attempted to defend ourselves, we were told, “Don’t be so defensive, no one is accusing you of anything.” After much unnecessary stress and anxiety, our story ended happily and yet 1 was left wondering if other interracial couples experienced mistreatment because of race. In the summer of 2003, I began an exploratory study in which I interviewed five members of interracial couples who had adopted in the previous two years. Through open-ended, unstructured interviews, I discovered that various forms of mistreatment were, unfortunately, experienced by each of the interracial couples I spoke with.1 This chapter will explore the ideological and structural reasons behind the unique experiences of interracial couples and multiracial people in the world of adoption. I will explore the social factors that set the stage for the creation of a separate category for “biracial” children. And I will highlight, from my interviews with interracial married adoptive parents, the racial thinking that sets the stage for the mistreatment of interracial couples. Their experiences demonstrate the need for adoption workers, agencies, and policy makers to better understand—not ignore—the role of race in the adoption process.2

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