Thursday, December 1, 2011

So, you wanna adopt a Black kid?: Black Folk 201

I think it's absolutely wonderful when people tell me they want to adopt, but from time to time I'll hear people say things that make me go "hmmm."

My favorite line is "Ooh, I want one." Referring to a black child. Kids aren't puppies. You don't buy one from a breeder, or pick one out at a shelter. It's a human being, and you get what you get.

I don't know if it's because Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock made it cool, but for a while I was beginning to wonder if it was some kind of strange fad.
When I lived in Utah I saw this all over the place. I'm going to be honest, at first I was a little concerned. I met mothers frustrated with their daughter's kinky black hair who didn't have a clue how to manage it, and black children who had never seen people who look like them. And worse... reading stories of parents who abused these children. Thankfully the latter was not as common.

When I attended Black Student Union at BYU, there were events for these families to come and socialize with one another and, I guess, let their kids see other children who look like them. I asked the parents how they came about adopting transracially and heard a variety of responses.

One mother told me she wanted a biracial child because she thinks they're adorable, another told me the waiting list was so long for white children so they broadened their search. Another told me it was more affordable.


A baby on sale? That broke my heart, but I'm giving them all the benefit of the doubt. While their initial intentions may have been questionable to me, I pray they're loving parents.

These days my feelings aren't so harsh toward families who want to adopt transracially. In fact, I think it's great that people can open their hearts to children who don't even look like them, and take them in as their own forever. It's a sad fact, but according to some studies, black children are 7 times less desirable than other children. This is why there are programs that offer subsidies to help families adopting a black child. And let's face it... There aren't enough black families adopting either.

I think (hope) counselors do this anyway but I've thought of some advice for parents choosing to adopt a black child.

1. Learn how to manage black hair: Take a class, ask for help, do what you've gotta do so your daughter doesn't have a matted mess that can't be tamed and has to be cut.
2. Study black-culture and history to share with your child.
3. Have a variety of books, dolls, and toys that show people who look like them too.
4. Get involved in diverse play groups, so your child can see others who also look like them.

I also found a helpful article with more information on transracial adoption.

Actually, I think the list above is great for anyone. Being in an interracial marriage myself I am trying to be more aware of my daughter's growing variety of books, dolls and immersion.

When people say "Black babies are so cute!" Not that I don't agree, but is that specifically why you'd want to adopt a child? Ultimately a family is a family. Love is most important, and you don't have to look like your children to love them.

Someday I'd like to adopt, possibly after I have one more biological child. But I'd like to think that race wouldn't be a deciding factor in my decision.

I'm interested in hearing from others who have considered or who have adopted transracially. What has your experience been? Would you adopt outside of your race?

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