A report released today by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute suggests that minority children are not best served by what they term a â€ścolor-blind approach.â€ť
Citing statistics that show over 50% of children waiting to be adopted are children of color, the Institute recommends the Multi-ethnic Placement Act be amended to include race as a factor to be considered when placing children for adoption.
This is an adoption â€śhot-buttonâ€ť issue, emotionally charged, and with serious ramifications. On the one hand, no one disputes the fact that there are children now, who need stable homes now, regardless of the color represented in that home. The argument is that stability, of any flavor or stripe, is better than abuse or neglect, and this is true.
However, as a bi-racial woman, I can say that I have had life experiences that my Caucasian mother has not. Nor can she understand the constant agony I had when pressed by friends to â€śchooseâ€ť sides in a bi-racial tug of war. She didnâ€™t understand how much I hated the forms â€śback in the dayâ€ť that forced me to choose only one ethnicity, and how by choosing only one, I felt I was betraying the other â€śpartsâ€ť of me.
Studies by those more learned than I have shown I am not alone in the feelings of isolation I had growing up as a person of color in a predominantly white household, and in communities of color.
So, whatâ€™s the answer? There is no easy fix. The report out today raises the (very valid) issue, and proposes that at least the issue be on the table, out in the open for discussion. If caring, competent families of color are available, children should be matched. If not, families willing to diligently seek out resources and promote the childâ€™s racial identity should be the next tier.
I was recently participating on one of my knitting boards. The discussion was about a local yarn shop that appeared to be discriminating against people of color. Many people chimed in. Most self-identified as â€śnot of colorâ€ť yet said they â€śunderstoodâ€ť how the person of color felt because someone had treated them â€śrudelyâ€ť too. My statement was, and is, unless you have truly experienced it, you cannot understand. You can be enraged, outraged, and boycott the joint, but please do not say you â€śunderstand.â€ť Your intent is appreciated, because you are trying to be empathetic and supportive, but in so doing, you make the situation worse because there is no possible way to understand how it feels to be followed around in a high-end store you can easily afford to shop in, solely because of your color, unless it has actually happened to you as a person of color.
Should children be denied loving homes because a â€śculturally competentâ€ť family cannot be found? No, thatâ€™s not the answer. But, for so long the question of race has been pushed aside, and thatâ€™s not the answer either. Iâ€™m just happy that the discussion is out in the open, and we can at least dialog about the elephant in the room. By doing so, we can at least acknowledge the issue, and those on all sides of the discussion can contribute and make it better for all involved.
For more reading (Note: at the time of this writing, all links were freely available, however many online periodicals archive stories after a set period of time, then subscription fees apply):
Pact: An Adoption Alliance (Articles on Race and Adoption)