Adoptions plagued by racial bias
By Enrique Rangel
October 25, 2009 / lubbockonline
AUSTIN - Over the years a good number of childless American couples have traveled to China, Guatemala, Romania and other faraway countries to adopt a child.
But children in Texas' Panhandle and Southern Plains as young as a few weeks old and as old as 20 may wait three years to find families - longer than the state average of two years.
Data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services shows that in 2008 there were 6,375 children waiting to be adopted in the state. Of those, 174 lived in Lubbock County, 64 in Randall County and 26 in Potter County.
Johana Scot doesn't like those numbers.
"The problem is that we take too many kids away from their homes," said Scot, executive director of the Parent Guidance Center, an Austin-based advocacy group.
Scot and other critics of Texas Child Protective Services believe the agency is too quick to remove children from their parents or other relatives if social workers suspect abuse or neglect.
More children would stay with families if social workers were to spend more time on child abuse prevention, Scot said.
Instead, "the Family and Protective Services are very adversarial in their approach," she charged. "They say 'we're going to take your kids away and terminate your parental rights.' They take the kid and ask questions later."
Social workers remove disproportionate numbers of non-white youngsters from families suspected of abuse or neglect, according to state records. The children wait longer to find new homes than white children, according to records.
Black and Hispanic children account for more than two-thirds of all Texas youngsters waiting for adoption, according to Family and Protective Services figures.
Half of the 174 children waiting for adoption in Lubbock County last year were Hispanic, even though the county's Hispanic population is 30 percent.
Statewide, a white child waits 28.7 months to be adopted while an African-American youngster waits 31.7 months and a Hispanic child 29.2 months.
Those figures don't surprise Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, a nonprofit group in Alexandria, Va.
"Let's face it, the adoption process reflects the racial prejudices and biases in our society," Wexler said. "An African-American or a Hispanic child is more likely to be taken away from his or her parents than a white child. And when a white child is up for adoption he or she will find a home sooner than an African-American or a Hispanic child."
Regional CPS spokesman Greg Cunningham said the agency knows of the criticism that non-white kids are more easily removed from their homes than whites and is addressing the issue.
"We have developed a cultural awareness program and we have asked the communities to get involved," he said. "In Lubbock, we're having an office in a predominantly African-American area."
The agency also understands that racial prejudices and social biases play a major role in the adoption process, he said.
"We know that it's more difficult to find adoptive parents for minority children," Cunningham said.
But with the help of a three-year campaign called "Why Not Me?," the agency hopes to create awareness and make it easier for children waiting for adoption to find a home.
"We don't deny there is a problem and we try to fix it," Cunningham said. "And folks who criticize us, we ask them to get involved to be part of the solution."
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Child protection and criminal justice
The fact Texas is too quick to remove more children doesn't surprise me at all. Texas is also the state with the most punitive criminal justice system in the world, where we see the same racial bias as in the lone star state's child protective services system. Which make you wonder if Texas CPS really removes children because it is in their best interest, or if children are being removed to punish parents.
Of course the excessive incarceration of people in Texas also has its impact on the number of children in foster care. The more parents are put in prison, the more likely their children will end up in foster care.
With a governor that derives some of his popularity due to talk about secession of the Union, Texas politics also feeds into anti-governmental sentiments, which makes it less likely parents will cooperate with CPS. Texas politics also does very little to reach out to its black and hispanic population, further enhancing the us versus them mentality that makes cooperation between CPS and families in trouble less likely.
Of course its cool to be tough, but a softer approach both to criminal justice and to child protective services could work wonders in Texas, the question is if there is political support for such a realignment. I fear there isn't.
The color of money
It's funny to see how a biased adoption plan works when you read the first two sentences of the article:
If you ask me, the bias (or preference) has little to do with color-issues; it has much to do with money, and all it can represent. It looks better (smarter, richer, more "worldly") to adopt a colored/foreign child than help assist a local who also happens to be a minority.
Biased adopting Texans are not alone. The United States has tons of people making biased adoption-plans.
It's not them damned colored causing the problems... it's poverty. If you're poor in China, Guatemala, or Romania, it's because of the no-good government. If you're poor in America, you're just too damn lazy and no good. <spitting into my spatoon>
If you're not so rich in America, and you want to foster and adopt, the only thing left to do is help the local. The big joke being, if you did that, you can get a nice little subsidy, to boot.
In fact, once you do your homework, you can see how adoption subsidies and adoption incentives are not at all the same, as each attracts it's own class of people.