Adoption between same-race children and parents is a difficult task. Filling the emotional needs of a child who has lost one or both parents presents a multitude of adjustment problems for both the child and adoptive parents. People who choose to adopt are compassionate and caring, or they would not want to adopt in the first place. The child is coming from place of familiarity into the unknown…and frightening. The support of the adoptive parents will help the child overcome this difficult time; at least that is the theory. In addition to changing lifestyles, sets of rules, friends, and everyone they ever knew, let us now add the change of who you are. Let us change your culture and beliefs as well. This is the problem that a child adopted into a family of a different cultural background must face. Inter-racial adoption is a form of genocide and hurts the child most of all.
Carol Lloyd and Hank Pellishier decided to adopt a child and ended up adopting a child over the internet. The most shocking fact of the adoption process was that they found the children and their pictures lined up on a website, like a bunch of used cars. And even more shocking is the fact that the "prices" on the children were segregated according to race. Mr. Pellisshier reports, "Children are listed here with photos, biographies and price tags attached -- like used automobiles, except that the cost variation is largely based on color. A paraplegic Bulgarian tot with a cleft palate costs $30,000, whereas a mobile and dentally normal Chinese or Guatemalan urchin runs only $15,000. And black children? Absolutely nothing. Drop in and take a dozen. The Caribbean islands of Martinique, Grenada and Barbados offer free black children to anyone who wants to fly there and pick them up. Regional markets duplicate this scenario. The price of the few Caucasians available is preposterously steep (up to $50,000), and the bidding is intensely competitive (only one-third of would-be adoptive parents ever receive their white Baby X)"1. It seems to me that this is similar to the gold standard: every baby is compared to the healthy white infant and everything else is of lesser quality.
In the end, the couple decided to adopt a child of a different race due to financial considerations. When they asked if the child would notice the difference in color, they were given the standard social worker answer, "They don't care if your skin color is green, as long as you love them and give them a home, they'll be happy." 2 Research by several psychologists supports this.
"Transracial adoption is a viable means of providing stable homes for waiting children. Nearly a dozen studies consistently indicate that approximately 75% of transracially adopted preadolescent and younger children adjust well in their adoptive homes."3
1 Lloyd, Carol and Hank Pellishier. Intrerracial Adoption.: One Couple's Story. Part one 2002.
Silverman, A.R. (1993). Outcomes of transracial adoption. The Future of Children, 3(1),
In another study conducted in 1995, "transracial adoption was not found to be detrimental for the adoptee in terms of adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, peer relationships, parental and adult relationships."1
Government agencies trying to reduce their numbers and place children, tell parents that inter-racial adoptions have no more ill -- effects on the child than same-race adoptions. But stories from the adoptees themselves would paint a different picture. In the adoption preparation class attended by Carol Hank and Hank Pellishier a Black woman adopted into a white household says, "Don't imagine that you're doing a child of color a favor by adopting it, because you're not. The suicide rate of transracial adoptees is higher than the national average. The children grow up alienated from their own race; they're not accepted by blacks, or whites either. If you sincerely want to help parentless African-American children, then work to change the laws so that it's easier for black people to adopt."2
In a later meeting Julia expresses the following feelings about living in two cultures.
"Nobody asks what transracial adoptees really feel," she exclaimed. "Instead they analyze our thoughts as if we don't know our own minds. It's very patronizing." Her analysis stems from her own sense of "racial isolation," growing up in an all-white neighborhood, seeing black people only on occasional trips to London. "As you grow older it's difficult to reenter your community of origin," she explains. "You don't feel comfortable around black people -- you've taken in all of these stereotypes from the television. When you meet your birth parents you say, 'God, I can't relate to these people.'" 3 No matter how justifiable transracial adoption may be by the numbers, none of it matters if the children are miserable.
The reasons for so many inter-racial adoptions is simple. As of 1999, "117,000 children were in foster care waiting for adoption, 51% of them black. The black children wait longer than whites; relatively few are the infants and toddlers so prized by many adoptive parents, and most have medical or developmental problems."4 The reason for so many minority children being placed into white homes is one of simple numbers. The reasoning does not take into account cultural diversity issues, which the same supporters claim to be so close to their hearts, as well.
Many who adopt children from different cultures promise to expose them to their native culture. They will celebrate Kawanza with their Black Children. They will cook Chinese
1 Sharma, A.R., McGue, M.K. And Benson, P.L. (1996). The emotional and behavioral adjustment of United States adopted adolescents: part 1. An overview. Children & Youth
Services Review, 18, 83-100.
2 Lloyd and Pellisher. The source for the comment about the suicide rate of transracial adoptees being higher was not given in the article.
3 Lloyd, Carol and Hank Pellishier. Intrerracial Adoption.: One Couple's Story. Part two 2002.
food and celebrate Chinese New Year with their Chinese children. They will take their Native American Children to Pow-Wows. The problem with this idea is that a culture is much more than the holidays that it celebrates, the clothes that it wears, or the foods that it cooks. It is a set of ideals and philosophies. We as humans are limited by our experiences. We base our idea of the world on what we have been exposed to. People of different cultures can only truly understand their own ideas. They may view other cultures from the outside, by the clothes, food, and holidays. But it is impossible to truly understand how they think and feel as everything will be judged by our own perspective, which is not of that culture.
This point is emphasized by the fact that the U.S. government recognizes this fact with the passage of a law regarding adoptions of one ethnic group in the United States. The Indian Welfare Act drives the point home that to place children in a different culture robs them of their heritage and true identity.
It sets a precedent for interracial adoptions, which is ignored by adoption agencies. Under section 1915 the act states, "In any adoptive placement of an Indian child under State law, a preference shall be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to a placement with (1) a member of the child's extended family; (2) other members of the Indian child's tribe; or (3) other Indian families. "1 The only question which comes to mind is that if the government has determined that the best place for a Native American Child is with a Native American family, why does this not hold true for children of other minorities as well. Would it not be logical that the same loss of cultural identity would occur for a descendent of the African tribes, Latinos, or Asian children as well?
Now I want to point out another act of our Congress. The 104th Senate of the United States adopted an act in 1995, "To remove barriers to interracial and interethnic adoptions, and for other purposes." This wonderful altruistic act seeks to end discrimination in adoption policies. But if we look at Section 3, Subsection f, we find, "NO EFFECT ON INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT OF 1978- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.)." 2 It seems as if the U.S. Government has a double standard concerning the right of cultures to preserve themselves. The Indian Welfare Act and The Adoption Antidiscrimination Act of 1995 clearly contradict themselves. So how do we solve, this problem? It's simple, just exclude the contradictory part. They have now created an even bigger problem with this…