The Audacity to Adopt

The recent tragedy in Haiti has no doubt seized our attention while simultaneously tugging at our heart and purse strings. And rightfully so. As I watched the news reports and looked at the devastation I began to wonder … what will happen to the Black children who have lost all they have ever known … including their parents?  

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Well, is it just me or is anyone else noticing the apparent absence of Black couples adopting these displaced Haitian children? I figure that most of these children and adoption cases were already in the pipeline and the conditions since the earthquake have helped expedite things but … DAYUM! They make it seem like you can just go to the store, sign a paper and they will deliver your little Haitian child “within 7-10 business days or if you are an Amazon Prime customer you can get him or her overnight”! Of course I’m being facetious and the issue is indeed a serious one but if my eyes (and the media) aren’t deceiving me a few questions for us all to ponder rush to mind:

1) Why aren’t any Black folk shown adopting these Haitian children?

2) Why are White folk so quick to adopt these Haitian children?

3) Why aren’t more folk from any group adopting the Black children from the foster care system right here in America?

Each question begets yet another but to be fair this issue of adoption has been around for decades and Black children right here in America could use some love.

Note to Reader:  This writer sees the issue of Race in just about everything. Of course I am aware of and recognize all people of color but my default is Black & White. Over the years that has been the most volatile and contentious relationship. And if we get that one right, the others will be a piece of cake. In fact, whenever I am accused of “playing the Race Card “, I always let folk know that I didn’t deal the hand. It has been my experience that if you ask “why?” long enough eventually it will come down to Race.  And if it is between or amongst people of the same color, Class becomes the issue. But we can argue about that in another post at another time.

It would seem that White folk are comfortable as can be adopting children of any color, from anywhere – Asia, India, Haiti … hell, even Africa (Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Madonna come to mind most immediately). But what’s wrong with the Black children that grew up right here in America; the little Black children born here in our cities; the little Black children who live in group homes that none of us seem to want in our neighborhoods; with parents who were born here … but for whatever reason couldn’t handle raising such a gift?

With instances such as these it’s tough to holler “RACE” because Black folk make it easy for White folk to say, “Forget it”.  I have heard Black folk say, “Who do they think they are? How are White folks going to raise Black children? They have no idea what it’s like to be Black”! And maybe they don’t … but they don’t know what it’s like to be Asian, Indian, Haitian or African either. And wouldn’t a better question be centered on whether or not the adopters were emotionally, physically and financially able to provide a loving home for the adoptees? Or another question is why aren’t the people asking adopting? Some have gone so far as to compare this scenario of White folk adopting Black children as sort of a soft genocide, if you will. For the record, this writer happens to find that declaration a wee bit dramatic though I understand the thinking that brings the opponents to this conclusion.

In its 1994 position paper entitled, Preserving Families of African Ancestry, The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) makes the following assertion:

“transracial adoption of an African-American child should only be considered after documented evidence of unsuccessful same race placements has been reviewed and supported by appropriate representatives of the African-American community”.  

Proponents of transracial adoption believe this represents a somewhat softer point of view, claiming that the NABSWs 1972 stance came closer to the soft genocide statement. Nevertheless the point is the NABSW suggests that Black children adjust/develop/respond better with Black families. That sounds sound. But let’s look at some numbers in an article from www.adoption.com :

“Opponents of race matching contend that the numbers now seem stacked against the possibility of same-race adoptions. Of the estimated 500,000 children in the U.S. foster home system, more than half are minorities. Of those available for adoption, 40 percent are black, although blacks represent only about 13 percent of the general population. What is more, according to the National Adoption Center, which keeps track of so-called hard-to-place children, about 67 percent of such children are black and 26 percent are white, while 67 percent of the waiting families are white and 31 percent are black.”

Now I am sure there will be those who will read this and say, “My family adopts … in fact, they adopted me!” and they will go down a list that reads like that fifth chapter of Genesis in the Bible inserting “adopt” for every “begat”. And while that is good for that particular family, that family and those like it are the exception and not the rule. So if you are among those who feel I am “preaching to the choir”, based on the aforementioned numbers, I humbly submit that the choir ain’t singin’! In the passage quoted above it would appear that we will soon have far more Black children needing to be adopted right here in America and not enough Black families to adopt them all. So who picks up the slack? Is it better for them to grow up devoid of many cultural customs or do we leave them to languish until they age out of a troubled foster care system feeling more and more unworthy as years go by?  Or am I oversimplifying?

Beyond the issues already discussed I am sure there are economic factors to consider as well. Adopting is an intense, expensive endeavor and the legal process is as lengthy as it is costly. I have often wondered about adoption. Could I make a difference? Sure. Could I handle it financially? Less sure. But perhaps somebody out there is ready and this is just the catalyst they need to begin to get the process started. Maybe there are those out there who don’t have kids or for whatever reason are unable to conceive. Maybe you have enough love, energy and desire stored up in your home. Go ahead … make a difference … I dare ya!

The Audacity to Adopt © 2010 by Wendell F. Phillips