Finding Families for Black Children; A New Study Calls for Amending Adoption Laws to Talk about Race

By Miranda, Leticia | Colorlines Magazine, November-December 2008 | Go to article overview

Finding Families for Black Children; A New Study Calls for Amending Adoption Laws to Talk about Race


Miranda, Leticia, Colorlines Magazine


IT'S TAKEN 15 YEARS, but at last adoption agency officials are realizing that race matters.

A new study shows that the current "colorblind" adoption laws are failing to get Black children out of foster care at a faster rate. They're also not preparing white families who adopt Black children and need help dealing with the realities of race and racism in the United States.

The study, "Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race & Law in Adoption from Foster Care," conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, found that a 1996 amendment to adoption laws has not closed the racial disparity in the amount of time Black and white children spend in foster care before being adopted. The amendment prohibits federally funded adoption agencies from considering race in their adoption practices. Those violating the law receive large fines. Although the overall number of adoptions has increased since the amendment was passed, Black children still stay in foster care an average of nine months longer than do white children.

The study found that about 20 percent of Black children in foster care are adopted by white families. Because race is not considered or discussed in adoption practices, many of these parents are not prepared for anything, from routine hair care to the racism their child will experience in life. Transracial adoptees, as a result, may often suffer from feelings of isolation, depression and low self-esteem.

"It was painful, because while I perceived racism all around me, I didn't have people around me to talk to who had experienced what I was experiencing and who could validate and share my perceptions," said John Raible, a Black transracial adoptee and a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who specializes in transracial adoption issues. …

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Finding Families for Black Children; A New Study Calls for Amending Adoption Laws to Talk about Race
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