This rush to downplay race ignores the truth of inter-racial adoption

Yes, a loving home is important, but as a black man raised by white parents I see the benefits of same-race families too

By Joseph Harker

November 2, 2010 / guardian.co.uk

According to the children's minister, there is "no reason at all" why white couples should not adopt black or Asian children. Instinctively, many people would agree with Tim Loughton when he says: "If it is a great couple offering a good, loving, stable permanent home, that should be the number one consideration." After all, isn't being in a loving, caring home all that counts?

Well, ideally, yes. But as a black person adopted as a child by a white parent I believe this notion is simplistic. There are about 65,000 children in care at present, 20% of whom are from racial minorities. Approximately 2,300 were approved for adoption last year, of whom 500 were of black or Asian origin.

There has long been a shortage of black or Asian families willing to adopt, so in the 1960s and 70s it was common for white parents to be approved to raise minority children. At the time, little attention was paid to the child's cultural needs, and many grew up feeling disconnected from their racial background.

As a result, black campaigners successfully changed adoption procedures so that the default position was for black children to be adopted by black parents. This would have worked well, but in practice the shortage of black would-be adopters left many children languishing in care for years. No one would now say this was acceptable, and in 1998 the then education minister Paul Boateng – whose wife Janet had been prominent in the same-race campaign two decades earlier – relaxed the rules to make it easier for transracial adoptions to take place. "The importance of family life to a child cannot be overstated," he said.

Since then, for the most part, though race has been an important factor, individual decisions have sought a balance in the best interests of the child. Loughton's comments, however, appear to tip this balance so that race is at risk of being downplayed altogether. His priorities seem to be finding a nice family and placing the child quickly. Presumably well-spoken middle-class types will be at the front of every queue.

My own Nigerian father abandoned my Irish mother before I was born. Three years later she married an English local, who later adopted me, and I took his name. I was never short of love, support and encouragement. But when race regularly collided with my life I was ill-prepared. I found it difficult to cope with the playground and classroom taunts and, as I grew older, the disconnect with my African heritage became more of an issue. I've spoken to many black people of similar upbringing and they often talk of the same experiences.

The media often likes to talk to children about how they feel about being transracially adopted. Every time I hear these reports I know they are asking the wrong people – because it is only in later life that one can appreciate what has been missed.

The stridency of Loughton's words gives me little faith that he understands these issues. Moreover, his thinking entirely fits a mainstream political agenda running for most of the past decade, which scorns multiculturalism and tries to deny difference. An agenda which says that in order to be accepted in Britain, migrants and minorities must speak the language fluently, adopt "British values" (whatever they are) and ditch their religious beliefs: to assimilate into this country rather than maintain their cultural traditions and historical ties.

On Monday, paradoxically, an elderly black couple went to court to claim that they'd been denied the chance to become foster carers because of their Christian-based views on homosexuality. They didn't believe it was an acceptable lifestyle. Clearly these views are outdated, but the fact remains that they are held by many who originate from strongly religious countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. So, if the couple's claims are correct, would the adoption rules now in effect state that black and Asian children can no longer be adopted by those who share their cultural heritage? If so, combined with the message Loughton is sending out, we could be moving towards an effective whites-only adoption policy.

There was a time when politicians claimed to welcome difference, declaring that it strengthened Britain by connecting our country to the rest of the world. Now it seems the government believes that black or Asian families have little to offer children from their own background. The common heritage is either irrelevant, undesirable, or something so meaningless that a white parent who's visited their local library's diversity section could do just as well.

The fact is, race will always be a factor in a black or Asian child's life, and having a parent who understands this through their own direct life experience is a huge benefit. Indeed, one needn't get too hung up on whether the parents precisely match the racial makeup of the child, which can often be complex. Whether the couple is black, mixed or Asian, they'll almost certainly understand the importance of a non-white child's cultural needs.

Yes, stable homes are always better than living in care. But to deny the importance of race is not only insulting to minorities, it also risks causing unnecessary confusion and distress to those vulnerable children who look to the state to protect them.

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Good, I'm glad.

On Monday, paradoxically, an elderly black couple went to court to claim that they'd been denied the chance to become foster carers because of their Christian-based views on homosexuality. They didn't believe it was an acceptable lifestyle. Clearly these views are outdated, but the fact remains that they are held by many who originate from strongly religious countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

People like that have no business being parents of anyone, especially given the potential of the kids turn out to be queers.

That said, I find it fascinating that it's the Black couple that gets snagged for these views, with the further highlight that Carribean, African and Asian PAP/PFPs will be the ones screened out.

This is false dilemma thinking, e.g. hm, which is preferable, being adopted/fostered by clueless whites or antigay Blacks. Neither is acceptable, not that any kid is ever asked.

Someone ought to take the archives at PPL and see which parents are killing their kids due to religious beliefs. I seriously doubt "Carribean, African and Asian" homo-haters are any more lethal or damaging than their Euro counterparts.

One further, I find it funny that "transracial adoption" always, INVARIABLY means nonwhite kids adopted/fostered by whites, as if this is the preferable outcome.

"Transracial"-anything NEVER refers to nonwhite parents adopting white children. I doubt such parents are even considered suitable parents for whites, regardless of education, religious outlook, income, etc. except perhaps in the cases of fostered white adults with severe disabilities.

'Raising Katie', in America

Published April 23, 2009, in Newsweek:  Raising Katie:  What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race in the Obama era.

 As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn't being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, "Are you OK?"—even though Terri is standing right there.

Is it racism? The Ridings tend to think so, and it's hard to blame them. To shadow them for a day, as I recently did, is to feel the unease, notice the negative attention and realize that the same note of fear isn't in the air when they attend to their two biological children, who are 2 and 5 years old.

Yet, when it is a white couple adopting a non-white child, it's considered the greatest blessing since PBJ on sliced Wonder bread.  No alarmed stares or question about child abduction/kidnapping when a white person goes outside his/her color-sphere, are there?  'Course not...thems be humanitarian heros savin' them poor unfortunate souls! 

To put this racist trend in trans-racial adoption in better perspective, (meaning, from an adoptee's POV, especially if the adoptee was abused by an active church-member), I invite readers to read comments to The Culture of the Congregation, in particular "My dinky rural area of PA".  Nice eye-opener, isn't it?

 

What Obama Era

Raising Katie:  What adopting a white girl taught a black family about race in the Obama era.

Ugh, the Obama era, where Obama is a muslin racist gay kenyan luo tribesman who appoints anchor babies like Eric Holder X to set Shirley Sherrod's New Black Panther Party of Hip Hop Dancers loose on innocent white Christians just trying to exercise their right to clarify the 14th Amendment, and rethink the Civil Rights Act of 1964's provisions of equal access to Walgreen's lunch counters.

Feh.

The Christian Call to Adopt

Going O/T just a wee little way, I'm fascinated by the religious Christian call to adopt movement, as it seems to use the Jesus,Mary, and Joseph model quite a bit.
In a piece called A story of adoption, the author writes: 

Adoptive moms assure me that adoption is rarely ever a man's idea. And it is almost always an idea born of a woman's pain. The sorrowful heart of a mother meets the sorrowful heart of a child and together they begin a new life. But how do they get to "together?" They become a family through the courageous actions of a man who sees the pain of his wife and listens to her as she tells him about the pain of the child. Rarely, do these women beg and plead. Rather, like Mary, they trust God. They pour out their hearts in prayer and God convicts their husbands. The program director for a Catholic adoption agency assures me that this is not the case of weak, badgered men who cave to whining women. Rather, they are tender, brave men who recognize a mutual need and hear a distinct call.

The father who adopts is strong and faithful. He travels to places like Kazakhstan, Russia, China, Guatemala and even hostile Africa. He saves the baby ? often from abject poverty, illness or death. He is the St. Joseph of our times.

This confuses me somewhat, because the way I always understood the Jesus-Mary-Joseph adoption story, as it's presented in the bible, it reads a little more like this:

Mary, a good trusting God-loving female, was left pregnant yet unmarried and scared out of her mind because in those days, females who were pregnant but not married got stoned to death.  Meanwhile, elsewhere in town, Joseph was 'chosen', and as Mary's luck would have it, in the middle of the night he was convinced by God/His angels to "do the right thing" and marry the good God-loving female who mysteriously enough, found herself suddenly pregnant.  In fact, if Joseph wanted to prove his faith and belief in God, all he had to do was three simple things.

  1. Make an honest woman out of Mary, through marriage, and provide mother and child a new home.
  2. Give the unknown father's bastard child a proper father's last name.
  3. Treat that child as if it were his own. 

Indeed, no weak man can take on the burden of another man's child... but if it's the God-ordered thing to do, I guess it's the God-ordered thing to do.  [Why God didn't stay to father His own child, WITH the mother He chose, I'll never understand... but who am I to question God and His plans?] 

Enter the adoption-story kept by the inter-racial adoptee writing about race-issues in adoption:

My own Nigerian father abandoned my Irish mother before I was born. Three years later she married an English local, who later adopted me, and I took his name. I was never short of love, support and encouragement. But when race regularly collided with my life I was ill-prepared. I found it difficult to cope with the playground and classroom taunts and, as I grew older, the disconnect with my African heritage became more of an issue. I've spoken to many black people of similar upbringing and they often talk of the same experiences.

Hm...what a shocking theme.  Father left, for whatever reason, leaving mother and child behind.  A new partner/father was needed.  Now, I don't know if the boy's mother poured out her heart in prayer, convincing God she was in need of a husband, but nevertheless, a local boy did turn hero; an adoption story was born, but not without it's own natural consequences, resulting from the actions of a mysterious vanishing father. 

Boy...thinking back to when I was much much younger, I sure did wish my Adad would find and marry my original mother...but then, that would mean he'd have to divorce his current wife, and in the Catholic Church, that 'breaking what God put together' was a big sinning no-no, as per rules of the pope and church.

Oh well, back to the present Crisis Pregnancy and happy Christian-Christmas Adoption Story... 

Why is it so many Christ-following Christian organizations are calling (praying preying upon) the young Mary's of today convincing them it's best  for little baby J, if she relinquished parental rights and duties immediately after birth, so an infertile married couple (with strong religious convictions) can purchase legal rights to  the soon-to-be-born baby, instead?  [If such a character entered the Nativity scene, I'm thinking the character offering all sorts of perks and prizes for the release of a child to strangers - who may or may not discipline with the use of deprivation or an inanimate object - should be a smooth-talking snake in the grass.] 

Here's my question for the community... if there is indeed a God-given call to adopt, shouldn't religious leaders spend less time supporting 'Pregnancy Care Centers' that advocate maternal separation, and show a little more time and interest in the young male bachelors sitting in (and out) their crowded church congregations?  How about convincing young, productive, eligible men to step-up and marry those scared/worried pregnant females left by fathers with other, more self-serving, plans?  ...or does constant submissive prayer only work if you're an aching woman wishing to have what God has not already provided -- real protection?

inerrancy?

While answering an email I received from one of our readers, I came across an article from 1975, where Seymour Kurtz was interviewed about his business ploy in Mexico.

In the intervier he made the following statement:

God gives children who we think shouldn't have them, and does not give them to people who would make good parents. So we try to correct that. We put ourselves in a position superior to God, if you will.

I wonder if there are more adopters who believe they are correcting "God's creation".

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