Features Nov 27, 2008 at 4:00 am

On Race, Silence, and the Changing American Family



They're not adopted, but...My brother's kids are bi-racial (black + white) My husband's brother's kid is bi-racial (white + korean)My husband's sister's kids have two moms. My sister's boy (just plain white) his first girlfriend was born in Mexico. These kids are growing up loved with families who try to help them through anything and I just hope the the rest of the country gets over itself. Oh wtf- People are messed up and kids grow up to be messed up or not no matter who or what their parents are.
Well Done Jen, well done
"It would be easier for white people if race did not exist." That's one of the most racist things I've EVER read in The Stranger. FYI "White" people are a race too.
Thank you Jen for this story that cracks the seal open on a difficult topic; another Stranger piece worthy of an award.

I was adopted as an infant by white parents and at age 30 I am just now beginning to understand that I am Hispanic, but I don't know how to be Hispanic. So for now, I guess that I'm still white.
I did the test at the Harvard site and:

"Your data suggests a slight automatic preference for White people over Black people."

I like to think that I'm less racist than my neighbours, but this forces me to remember that I automatically make negative assumptions about people based on their dark skin.

"Your data suggests a strong automatic preference for Barack Obama over John McCain."

The door is closed. There is a black woman at the front of the room, near the blackboard. She is facing a black man who is sitting down and talking fast....A young Korean woman goes next. She says she has tried to find her birth mother, but the Korean authorities have stopped her...There is a young Korean man. He is gay. He is also transgender. He grew up in a white Christian family in a white Christian town. He had to escape.

See Spot. See Spot run. See Jane. See Jane run...
This is one of the best articles I've ever read in the Stranger. I hope more like it come along. I wish an article like this could be printed in a national news source, it's really revealing and honest.
Jen, this is an brilliant article.

I am a white foster parent of a child of color. Your article gave voice to thoughts I have had, but have not been able to articulate. It has inspired me to look even more closely at my own privilege, and how much my foster child has lost: not just his birth family, but an easily accessible sense of cultural identity.

Our foster son lost his daily contact with his mother and siblings due to poverty, mental illness, domestic violence and racism. This is a tragedy. Yet the number one comment white people make when they learn he is living with us is that he is "so lucky." There is nothing "lucky" about his situation, and I never want him to feel obligated to be grateful to us.

I'm very inspired by this article and will share it far and wide with other foster parents and social workers. Thank you.

Blah. I have a black foster kid. And I'm white. And I live in Columbia City. I feel so trendy. It makes me very uncomfortable...it feels like it's seen as some sort of status symbol. "Look how unracist I am!"

But the truth is, there's lots of kids of color in foster care. And if you don't specify that you want a white one (I'm not sure they ever asked), you'll probably get one that's not white. Especially if you live in a more diverse area. So, what do we do? I haven't changed my friendships, because that feels false. I don't want to seek out friends just because of their race. That's weird. But I feel guilty for not having many black friends.

This was a great article. I don't know the answer, but it seems like a first step is talking about it.
This is a sticky wicket. I don't think this is as clear cut as either "side" would have the reader believe. Yes, kids are lucky to be in a loving home, and yes, transracially adopted kids have lost a piece of themselves and their culture in the process. Which situation is truly better: waiting for a family of your own race to adopt you which may never happen, or losing and hungering for that piece of your culture/identity if you are adopted by people not of your race? Who can say?
One other point: there are so many multiracial children now with more in every subsequent generation, will this debate be moot in 50 years? 100 years?
Hmm. That feeling of loss that transracial adoptees feel for a missing cultural identity...Maybe part of this is due to the mismatch between their physical appearance and their culture, but I believe this feeling of loss is also a normal part of the mainstream "white" culture. For the most part, "white" in America isn't any particular ethnic group or culture--it's just the catch-all category for people who have assimilated and lost their ethnic ties, their peoplehood, their tribal identities. I know many white people who feel this loss acutely, particularly if their families more recently assimilated.
Annnnd this where us liberals wimp out.

Seriously, people. Why there is even a debate over this is harmful!

I'm white. My daughter is Cambodian. Has she ever wondered "Why are my parents white"?


But then there's the fact that we love her just as much as we love our black son, and our white foster child.

Love is enough. Do I think that transracial might be better with parents of the same race? Oh, yes.

But that's not going to happen in America. Most adoptive parents are white. And I'd rather have my children in my home then being shuttled around in a faulty foster-care system.
I'd be interested in an article where instead of "black" and "white", we'd have "straight" and "gay," or "Christian" and "Jewish", and so forth.
I agree with the previous poster. These children are being raised in families that have lost their own cultures. I remember reading in my middle school history book about the glorious American melting pot. But we never received a satisfying replacement for what we lost.

Nigga please...
I am a lesbian who grew up in a straight redneck household. Perhaps I should have been adopted by a nice gay family? I've got a good friend who had a biracial daughter, whose black father wanted nothing to do with her. Shit happens. This article is seriously annoying. Home is just a place where you grow up for a few years. Go out into the world and live your own life after that! Don't sit staring at your navel, feeling sorry for yourself about where you come from! People have children by accident all the time, with absolutely no screening, people grow up in all sorts of households with plenty of reasons to feel sorry for themselves, and we should all be so lucky to have been fed and given a place to sleep until we could do it on our own. Some people just have too much time and resources to spend looking for excuses for their problems.

Commenter number one is right: No one gets an ideal family. This doesn't deserve issue status.
Black America and the N-word:

One more thing--none of the rest of us get to choose our families. We don't get to choose how sensitively they raise us, either, as long as our parents obey the bare minimum of laws.

This is such a non-issue. Dangerously sentimental. Should gay parents be allowed to adopt straight children?
Wow! Go Abby Writer!
I did not read this article as an argument to restrict white people from fostering or adopting kids of color. I read it as an argument to have this discussion, and to stop pretending this isn't an issue or problem.

As the article said, we have to deal with the discomfort rather than just denying it or making lame white-guilt liberal white guilt arguments about "love being enough." White defensiveness is part of the problem.

Comparing the experience of racism in America to white people "losing their culture" is offensive, lame and clueless. You don't get it.

And Abby, so you feel that your bad childhood negates other people's right to have their own experience of their childhood? Is it a contest? Get some therapy.

I'm not sure that you didn't mean this the other way around, but saying, "Should gay parents be allowed to adopt straight children?" doesn't fit. Straight children adopted by gay parents will never go to schools populated by solely gay teachers and gay students. It is nearly impossible to cut a child off from straight culture; it is nowhere near as difficult to totally immerse a child is white culture, even when the child is not white. Furthermore, gay people are generally raised by straight people among other straight family members, meaning gay parents can't be as ignorant about straight people as white people can be about black people. The analogy of your earlier post (I'm a lesbian; should I have been raised by homosexuals?) is more fitting. And maybe that’s what you meant.

Although, honestly, you might get a lot of people saying "yes" to your earlier question if homosexuality in a child was as evident as a child's race. But, like it or not, we aren't able to look at that three year old that Mr. and Mrs. Jones want to adopt and figure out if s/he is gay or straight. So it's rather a moot point.
I connected with your article in many different ways. Great discussion piece. Well done.
foster mom: I wasn't comparing racism to white people losing their culture, and I'm sorry you misread it that way. Certainly transracial adoptees experience racism, and this article mentions that, but the main issue this article is raising seems to be something slightly different: do white parents rob non-white children of their tribal affiliation/birthright/peoplehood by adopting them? Transracial adoptees feel this as a loss, but I was proposing that most white people feel some similar loss.
Thank you, Stranger. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Jesus. Quit it with the white fucking guilt already. Big left wing babies. You make me ashamed to be called a liberal.
I live in holland. I have friends of all races, religious beliefs, sexual preferences, etc. And i honestly dont see color. I mean... what makes black people, white people and asian people so different? honestly? It seems as if in america people try to get rid of racial prejudice so hard they only make it worse. Its as if they are trying to make all races equal. Why? All people are different, but everyone cares for same little things in life. Disregard of skin color. It doesnt make sense to equalize everyone or put everyone in little groups. What people should learn is how to live together and not be silly.
Anyone who doesn't favor their race is fucked up. I'm not saying it's right, but it is absolutely human. I am continually amused at liberals trying to raise their children according to the child's color/national origin. It is hilarious and sad at the same time. Raise your children with love and respect, they'll become themselves eventually. Chicken and watermelon don't make black children feel more black, the misguided gesture does.
Kids don't care about race or religion or orientation. Kids treasure love and caring above all else. As long as a parent can provide that, the child has a good chance of overcoming obstacles.

And don't group all white people together as a race. I do not consider myself to be of White heritage- I am a second-generation American of Italian descent. Grouping all white people together is as insulting as saying all black people listen to hip-hop and eat watermelon.
I'm always a little wary when it comes to talk of "loss of culture", especially when the implication is that only minorities ever have that. Presumably white people are somehow less "complex" or needy or something. Culture and cultural identity are not genetically coded - it's taught. You teach the child (or, rather, their peer group does) that they are missing something - that "hunger" is simply a fantasy that everyone else apparently gets for free. As if the life that the child has lived until adulthood has no substance because it doesn't have the official minority seal of approval (presumably assigned by whites).

Yeah, America is a long way away from being post-racial, and pretending issues don't exist when they do is absurd. But so is the idea that lifestyle is genetically determined, and no dark-skinned child could be whole without filling themselves with elements of a modern, transitive, temporary culture. You are what you've been up until now - letting yourself be that defined by social constructs and the opinions of people you will likely never interact with is a weakness, not a virtue.
I think it was an excellent article. I am a white person with a Chinese adopted daughter. I have immersed us in the Chinese culture for her sake. My friends are now the parents of her friends and are Chinese. You don't have to give up your old friends, just make new ones. It doesn't have to be fake. But if your child is a child of color, they need to learn how to function as such. When you are not around, they will not have the umbrella of protection of "white privilege." You may not see it or believe it but it is there. Just do it. I joined a Chinese church, we go to Chinese school, and we choose a school because it has Chinese kids. Many of my friends are black for 20 years. Spending time with those friends taught me how important that race is to kids. Most people of color that I know have cautioned me how important it is to raise a child in her race. Most white people tell me it doesn't matter, "She's an American," they say. Most white people don't get it.
Something about this topic bothers me.

Maybe it's the almost impossible decision white parents must make if they want their adopted black children to connect with their racial/ethnic background: which aspects of African-American culture do black children need to experience or feel a part of in order to feel "black enough"? How on earth is a white parent supposed to decide which parts of the American black experience are appropriate or "authentic" enough to make her transracially adopted child feel at ease in his own skin? Do biological children of black parents feel more at ease in their own skin, just because their parents are black? Who decides what it means to be African-American (beyond the mere fact of skin color), and who is to say that all African-American kids are comfortable with the way their African-American parents are modeling what this means for them? The black community is not one monolithic voice, and does not lay claim to one set of values.

Completely anecdotally, all the white adoptive parents of black children I've known have exposed their kids to cherry-picked aspects of the "black experience" based - it would seem - on socio-economic status. The kids read about civil rights leaders and go to African American barbershops/salons to get their hair done, but they won't be going to school with any black kids because they are choosing to homeschool instead.
Thank you X for bringing up another excellent point: "white" heritage is not the same for all of us. I identify strongly with my Eastern European, German, and French roots and celebrate them all. Those are the cultures I am from and the ones from which I draw my family traditions. Celtic, British, Scandinavian, Iberian, Italian, these are all as foreign to me as my roots are to them. I suppose it can also depend how strongly each family held onto their culture and how long ago they emigrated. We are all a sum of our parts, but no one part defines us.
I appreciate this article deeply. As a Caucasian mom to an Asian daughter, I am hit in the face with the reality of racism on a very frequent basis, including my own. I also do not know what the answer is, but I do believe acknowleging the issues has to be the first step. As a mom to a child I love more than I can explain, it's hurtful and terrifying beyond words that I will likely cause her road to be harder because of what I do not understand in terms of her adoption, different race, and loss of her birth family and culture. It leaves me wanting answers as her mom, and a blueprint for how to get it right. I so wish one existed.
JUST to sum it all up -

Brown is the new black AND white.

Two more generations and all this is mostly moot. Sorry, but mother nature want the gene pools to mix, and, so they will.

Look around. Lingering on all the stuff from the last 200 years is basically useless - of course - many will cling.

I come from six national and ethnic strains - and who gives a fuck - not me, nor anyone I know.

Melting pot comes to fruition - indeed - and it is good biological stuff, sexual attractions, and breeding and new age families and BROWN is the new America.

By the way, in my family, going back a generation, ALL the white women married non white males, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and even the fags have partners that are not white.

Education wins too, ma nature's logical partner!!!
This is an excellent article! It is very balanced and susses out a lot of the many issues in transracial adoption. Some may see it as biased against white adoptive parents--but this is only because of the very phenomenon the article is addressing--the silencing of race discussions in adoption.

Whether an African-American child has any same race role models/examples in his life is important, but not as important as the recognition by white parents that race still matters and will be a factor in their child's life.

Like Obama I was raised by white people in a primarily white environment, I experienced racism, angst and a search for identity, but my white mom never tried to feed me pap about how my struggle with the racial order wasn't "real" because of the unity of humanity. She never thought her love would be "enough" to make my experiences as a non-white person irrelevant, she thought her love would help me cope, and it did, but her recognition that race and racism is real helped even more. This is some of the same idea that children can get from an association with Black culture.

As an adoptive parent I have encountered too many other aparents who can't even make the basic step of accepting that race will matter for their child, and that it matters for them. (much less that it mattered before when they were just white people in the world) That is why articles like this are so needed.
I am a 23 year old Mexican born girl adopted by white parents at infancy. My parents also adopted my then 8 year old half brother five years later.

My birth mother, whom I have met, was poor, unmarried, bipolar. While I'm incredibly grateful she gave birth to me instead of having an abortion, I do not think of her as my mother.

My adoptive parents, who raised me, cared for me, will always be my parents. When people say that Wwite parents can't raise children of color, I take it as a personal affront to them. Before adopting me, my parents had lived in DC, Ethiopia, and the Navajo Reservation. They were broad minded, but did not have Mexican (though they do have Hispanic) friends. My childhood role models were Harrit Tubman and Teddy Roosevelt, a black woman and a white man.

I grew up with some white privlilege by proxy, and it's a double edged sword. Speaking english as a first language, getting a liberal arts education, has opened all sorts of doors for me. But I "talk white," and I grew up in New Mexico, where there is a much felt white/hispanic divide. At school, I felt like I never belonged with either the hispanic kids or the white kids. Whoever wrote that comment that "kids don't care about race or orientation" obviously has never set foot in an integrated junior high school. Sometimes I cried and wished I was white, sometimes I got offended when people didn't realize I was Mexican.

I can promise you, Abby, that this sure as hell was never a "non-issue" for me and my brother, who are both queer, by the way. There are lots of white gays and lesbians who like to play the homosexual card as though it is equal to the race card, and it isn't. I'm living in a very homophobic country in Eastern Europe right now (people shot water guns filled with acid at people in the last gay pride parade) and I am very careful about whom I out myself to. But I can't hide my skin color.

Last time I flew to the States, a customs officer started speaking to me in Spanish--after I handed him my U.S. passport. When I tried to get a CT driver's license at school, they asked me for a green card.

Yes, gays and lesbians are treated like second-class citizens, but as a Mexican born American, I'm often treated like I'm not a citizen at all. And there are lots of hardworking, law abiding, tax paying, undoccumented persons in this country who would give an arm and a leg to have the US passport it took me a mere 6 months of beaurocratic bullshit to get. And I feel guilty about that.

I've spent most of my life trying to come to terms with my identity. I've learned Spanish but I'll never speak it like a native. I have hispanic friends, but I don't kid myself and pretend I'm one of them. I sought out my birth mother because I wanted answers but realized I'm too confused and angry to have a relationship with her yet.

I've definately lost something, but it feels somehow imperialist to try to claim it back. I went on stike and protested for "Day Without a Mexican," and I felt like an impostor. There is an emptiness created (that, Lady_cow is right, I think many White people also feel) whenever people have lost their culture. But, as someone should tell white rastafarians everywhere, trying to emulate someone else's culture only shows you are arrogant enough to think its your right to take it as your own.

I will probably adopt children, if I have children. I will probably adopt children of color, because they're the ones who need homes. They will probably struggle, as I've struggled. I will endevour to love and support them and not feel guilty about it.
I think Jen is a great writer, but she is completely missing the point on this topic. Everyone is this story, including Jen, comes across as insufferable, self-centered assholes. Not one of you understands what it's like to be raised in extreme poverty to unfit parents, or to be in state foster care without parents and being old enough to understand the situation. Goller-Sojourner's search for an "identity" (which is a bullshit idea of someone of privilege in the first place) does not good public policy make. As someone who was not wanted or loved or adopted at an early age, let me assure you, you fucking are lucky to have parents that love you and adopted you. Any person who actually group up welfare-poor will tell you, it’s not some cultural badge of honor or a romantic good time. It’s depressing and it sucks and it kills your soul. People become happy and great in spite of being poverty-stricken not because of it. My point being, if you are being put up for adoption, 99% of the time it is for a better life. I’m not speaking for everyone, as this article so clumsily does, but having a safe environment to live in sure as hell trumps some near-mythical idea of a perfect “heritage”.
My partner and I are a white gay couple. Our 1-year-old son is biracial, black and Latino. His mother selected us out of a pool of adoptive parents, and we now have an open relationship with her (visits once every six weeks or so). We underwent extensive training on transracial parenting, based largely on studies of the reported experiences of now-adult transracial adoptees. The training was required both by our home-state agency and by our out-of-state placement agency.

From the training and extensive reading, I take away a couple guiding principles for my own transracial parenting:
* never, ever downplay the reality of race consciousness and racism in U.S. society;
* prepare your child in advance -- through age-appropriate discussion and role playing -- for bigotry (in our case, both racist and homophobic bigotry); and
* assure through whatever means necessary (personal friendships or otherwise) that your child has same-race (or, again in our case, same races) role models.
* Oh, and one more: never, ever let your kid go outside with bad hair!

Interestingly, I think the research and certainly the first-hand experiences I've read or heard are mixed about the value of bringing up black kids in black neighborhoods. Many adoptees think that this made it harder and made them feel more estranged, especially if there was a class divide between them and their black peers in addition to a family divide. Research also seems to be mixed about the degree to emphasize specific cultural heritage. Some is good, certainly. But I've heard adoptees complain that it was overkill or inappropriate (e.g. celebrating a Chinese identity when a child might actually have a very different Chinese-American identity).
93% of all blacks murdered in the USA every year are murdered by other blacks. Blacks make up only 12% of the USA, which means "crime-age" black males make up less than 6%, but somehow over 52% of all murders and over 34% of all rapes in our country are committed by that less-than-6%. Black men raped at least 37,460 white women in 2005, but in the sample survey of over 20,000 people, they found that white men raped between zero and ten black women that year. Blacks have committed the vast majority of murders in the Seattle area in the last year and most of the victims were black. Until those numbers and situations change drastically, blacks and guilty-white-liberals who whine about "white racism" can go eat shit.
Um, Kris, as one white man to another: go fuck yourself.
Thanks, Jen--and everyone, especially everyone who is skeptical, read Borderline's comment, above. It's eloquent.
My response to Kris was rightly removed because of its tersely abusive nature. But it also served as an example of the kind of response that, in future conversations with my son, I will likely teach is appropriate when he encounters similar non sequiturs, designed merely to mask racial anxieties, racism, and racial fear. (Unless it's a cop he's dealing with, in which case I'll teach him to save his pride for those without sticks and tasers!)
@ D.D.

I would've liked to heard the point-of-view of non-white foster children who aged out of foster care without ever being adopted. Would they have agreed with the transracial adoptees or would they (like you seem to be saying) that any stable home would have been better than foster care.

@ Kris Kime

go fuck yourself.
@yucca flower:

I know someone like that. She'd been in foster care for about 10 years and aged out. She was with her last family for something like 1.5 years and they would have adopted her, but she got better financial aid by being legally family-less. Most of her foster parents had been white, and she thought that white people should never adopt black kids.

Now she was 19 at the time, so maybe when she gets older she'll change her mind. I don't know. She's just one person.

She also had trouble with foster parents of color, and her longest and last placement was with a white couple she referred to as "her moms," she liked them a lot. She just felt entirely adrift as a black girl floating through the white world.
@ Kris Kime

Die in a fire.
Jen, thank you for this open-hearted and thought-provoking article. It (or some version of it) deserves a much wider audience. Utney Reader maybe? Hope it garners awards.
I think the idea that white people are culture-free is piffle. It's just more difficult to see because we float in it all the time. I would venture to guess that, in fact, there are many types of white culture based on class, local variations, and country of origin.

I can't say anything in particular about transracial adoption. I can say that my first father died when I was three and I was adopted by my Dad when he married Mom. (All three parents are white.) I felt, particularly in my teens and twenties that there was something missing because I never knew my first father. I suspect that it is a common phenomenon when your life changes radically as a child, that regrets and what-might-have-beens haunt you. I'd also guess that minority children need to know how to handle racism in ways that white cultures don't have the tools for, so they do need specific knowledge that may only be available from people of their own heritage.
Just for the record, there are NO white gated communities in Northern Minnesota. We may sound podunk to you coastal folk, but there are only about 3 gated communities in the whole state, and all are in the Twin Cities metro area. Additionally, MN has a non-profit organization committed to helping the adoptive parents of black children raise their kids with positive racial identity and black role models in their lives. Additionally, the kids interact with each other and are thus not alone in their experience with (at times) clueless parents. If the Seattle area doesn't have a similar organization, maybe you could at least refrain from generalizing about one that does.
Barack Obama may as well have been a transracial adoptee.

He grew up with white grandparents, without black role models. His Kenyan father and his Kansas mother were not constant presences. As an upperclassman in high school, he realized what it meant to be black in a white world and became sick with the particular loneliness of a transracial adoptee.

You're right, Jen ... no doubt it was Barack's white family that caused him to turn to drugs. And it was probably his white family that kept him from realizing his full potential before this. In fact, I don't recall a single African American I know who turned to drugs unless he was raised white. Had he been raised by an AA family, I have no doubt Barack would have avoided all contact with the drug culture, started college at Harvard, not lowly Occidental and become president at age 35, sparing the world 8 years of George W Bush.

It is common knowledge that our prisons are filled with African American men who grew up knowing the particular loneliness of transracial adoption. It's a lesser known fact, but gangster rap and some of the worst nihilistic impulses within the AA community are actually "white" culture that was forcefed to vulnerable transracially adopted AA's. The foolish focus on sports success versus academics ... ditto. When we compare the stunted success of transracial AAs (or blacks raised "white" like Barack) to the universally recognized success of black people raised black, we can only conclude that this is part of an isidious plan to drag the AA community down from it's lofty position.

Thank you, Jen. While others are celebrating Barack Obama of an example of African American achievement, only you have the strength of logic to point out the vicitimization he suffered at the hands of uncaring caucasians and the negative impact his allegedly "loving" family had on his development.
Dear Jen,

You wrote, "Her point: If you don't silence these disgruntled adopted adults, then adoption policy could become race-conscious, and if adoption policy becomes race-conscious but white people still mostly aren't, then white people could be denied the right to adopt, and if that happens, then children of color are going to go without good, permanent homes.

"Don't talk is the idea—it can't lead to anything good. All it leads to is shouting, and suing, and then, finally, resilencing."

Jen, you are not being honest. That was NOT my point, but there must have been something in what I wrote - in my family's experience - that did not fit well with your argument, because instead of just ignoring what I wrote, you revised it.

Who is silencing whom?

Wow, a glimpse into the minds of naive liberal white Seattle people and the "uplifter" delusions from which they suffer. The obvious solution to everyone's complaints is for whites to stop adopting black children ... OR for blacks to adopt more white children. This article accidentally made one of the best arguments for voluntary segregation that I have ever seen.
"In international adoptions, the poverty of the parents is usually blamed on corrupt governments or bad political situations, Pam says. "But when it's domestic, we blame the parents."

Could this be because we have a government that gives help to people in need in the form of welfare, and other countries do not?

as someone jen interviewed for this article but ultimately did not include, i gotta say good on ya jen! whether or not you agree with anything in this article, she has had the courage to put this out there and for that she deserves commending. i hope to god this gets picked up nationally.

before you ask, no i'm not a transracial adoptee (my sister is) and my family is friends with pam and bill and their two beautiful children. i gave this article to my mom and sis to read, and i'm waiting to hear back from them, as they know far more about transracial adoption then i do, and far more than fuckbrains like soul on ice (eldridge cleaver, well aren't you one hip dude?).

jen, let's hope this starts a national dialogue. again, great job!
So I'm curious how Columbia City's "young black man on a bus" and "black woman yelling from the car" would do on the Implicit Association Test.

Seriously all of humanity is messed up, shouldn't we try and find the least messed up families available a the moment to raise children in foster care or orphanages? Give them the best chance we can?

Just a question.
You know. I bet Kris Kime smokes Kool cigarettes. Get it? Ok if you dont KKK.

On a real note. Hey Kris! Did you know that the disproportionate amount of black on black crime can be traced to a legacy of racism and poverty enforced by whites. Oh and your fun little rape citation. You are talking about REPORTED and PROSECUTED cases of rape. Did you know that most cases of reported rape at the hands of a white man are never prosecuted but that almost all cases of reported rape at the hands of a black man are prosecuted? And of course that is just what is reported. Did you know that if you have sex with a drunk woman that she is unable to provide consent and that makes you a rapist? Do you think every time a drunk woman has sex that she reports that she was raped? Do you think that those things might skew your statistics.

Oh yeah, and ever if your argument were valid and your statistics sound: go fuck yourself.

And to all the folks who post on here about how lame seattle liberals are: why arent you reading your own local paper? Dont you have anything better to do than dog on Seattle and the sympathetics who post on these discussion boards? Do you think that maybe because you spend your free time in your mothers basement in Macon Georgia parusing left leaning internet discussion boards just to make biased not well thought out 'liberals are stupid, get over the past 200 years already (btw columbus got to this hemisphere and began the still relevant racist cultural apocalypse over 500 years ago)' then maybe you are the whiny pasty dumbass?

Yeah I know I could have a better more coherent post, but I am too busy engaging myself in the region in which I live.
"And to all the folks who post on here about how lame seattle liberals are: why arent you reading your own local paper? Dont you have anything better to do than dog on Seattle and the sympathetics who post on these discussion boards?"


No, because it is so fucking hilarious to make lameass naive Seattle liberals get their panties all in a wad. Go live in a teepee.
Great article! Well done. This topic is still a very hot one in the foster care/adoption area and needs to be addressed. Transracial adoptive parents need to be aware of these things and be prepared to embrace all of their child(ren). It's a journey...God bless.
How much of these feelings of loss and disconnectedness are attributable to being human in a hard world? Speaking honestly now, my immediate reaction is to diminish (not dismiss, mind you) adoptees' expressions of loss and disconnectedness b/c it sounds so much like what my bio brother would say about his own life. My brother and I (neither adopted) turned out so completely differently. He is a lost soul, detached from his family, who doesn't "fit in," and who gets no comfort from our best efforts. Same genes, same family though. So when I read articles like this, I always wonder about this. Any thoughts?
I'm curious what the sincerity to attention whore ratio is throughout the article. I have no problem with trans-racial adoption, but more often than not I feel that people will adopt a child of another race in an effort to "keep up with the Jones'".... I'm not saying that people don't have good intentions. I'm just questioning the people that will adopt a child of another race in an effort to make themselves look like saint's.
This is probably the best article I've ever read in The Stranger and the comments here exemplify its necessity: the article forces readers to break out of the colorblind mirage, situate themselves in the reality and ambiguity of this very powerful historical construct we call race, and actually articulate themselves.

For example, while I think KK_ just copied and pasted some bullshit statistics off of a convenient website (unless we get footnotes!), his comment also illustrates how frighteningly dismissive we can be of dialogue. It's vogue to rattle off statistics in a "so there!" fashion without acknowledging the issue at hand. I also <3 the person who called this article racist and said "FYI: White is a race too," along with the person who denies that they are white, instead preferring second-generation Italian. All of these points indicate a severe miseducation of what exactly race is, how firmly implicated each of us are in it as a social construction, how it perpetuates itself, and how conditioned we are to the way it warps our lives. But none of these things can happen without conversation! So thanks, Jen. Now if only we could get more POCs writing for the Stranger...
It seems to me that this article is way too one-sided. It looks at the bad side of transracial adoption without acknowledging that there is a good side. In an article from PBS titled "Precious Cargo: Transracial Adoption", the following study was cited:

A 1995 study also found that transracial adoption was not detrimental for the adoptee in terms of adjustment, self-esteem, academic achievement, peer relationships, parental and adult relationships (Sharma, McGue, Benson, 1996).

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.
Thank you for this Erica! I think it is important that adoptive parents understand the challenges any adoptee faces with their perception of identity, obviously potentially more so in transracial adoptions. I am an adoptee, but when my husband mentions the possibility of us becoming adoptive parents, I can't say that I would do it.
My husband and i are waiting for our referral to adopt our first child together. We have two sons from his first marriage. We don't know what race our child will be, but found this article to be amazing, informative, enlightening and at last, hopeful. There are things we can do beyond just lavishing love that can help our potential child of a different race feel at home in his/her world. We just can't pretend that the differences don't exist. Thank you, thank you, for writing this piece.
Great article. My brother and I are both adopted - I'm white, he's a mix of various Indian subcontinent/middle eastern heritage (they ran out of white babies after me) - and our parents were white. Whether by design or because that's the advice they were given, they consistently denied he was anything other than white (despite his dark complexion) and he's now essentially a basket case - a regular visitor to the local jail, has no ability to hold down a job, etc. While I doubt his life would have otherwise been trouble-free, the constant denial that his heritage was different (or even special) certainly contributed to his overall psychological mess.

Oh, and he was cheaper to adopt - same agency as me, but a discount for his color. No joke. At least this sort of dialogue can contribute to addressing such issues before they torpedo a kid's chances.
T Owens... I'm with you. I'm sure things are much much harder in a transracial adoption but I know many people who feel this way. Some are white American mutts who feel out of synch with the politics or religion of their family. Some are gay children of straight parents. Some are first generation Americans who don't feel quite Indian/Chinese/etc. but also not quite American.

For example, there is nowhere a "a young Korean man. He is gay. He is also transgender." would have felt comfortable. Growing up in Korea or with Korean parents might potentially have been even harder.

I think being adopted by loving parents will always be better than living with foster parents or cycling through the system. I believe we as human beings are more similar than we are different. I believe there are better answers than segregation.

You are way off the mark when you say whites adopt children of other races to keep up with the Jones. After struggling with infertility for 12 years, my greatest miracle and joy was to adopt my AA daughter. Though she does not look like me, she is as much mine as a biological child would be. This is not the first I heard this bias however (and it as biased and prejudicial a statement as anything KK has said). A black member of our church came and told me how she defended my husband and I against this charge with a friend of hers in California. She had told him that if he ever saw how we interacted with our daughter, he also would have no doubts. Do you even know any families who have raised a child of a different race?
I think it's really interesting and telling how vocal the reaction is from your readers, which hits on the fact that this was a much needed article.

As a white person who has struggled with coming to terms with my own inherent racism, I think the first reaction of many liberal whites is to ignore racism and then get incredibly defensive when it is discussed.

I don't think the goal of this article was to prevent white parents from adopting children of color. I think no one disagrees that there are already too many children in foster care or awaiting adoption.

The aim of this article is to perhaps let white adoptive parents really confront their own internal racism that their adopted children are bound to realize even if their parents do not. I know it's something I try to be conscious of as much as possible.

As a white, gay male with a mixed race (half white/half black) niece, I worry about what preconceived notions I bring to the table when dealing with her. Her father has never been part of the picture, so her main upbringing has been our doting white, lesbian grandparents and her single, white mother who has been struggling to raise her while finishing school and working to support a family.

I can assure you, there is not a single moment that my niece doesn't feel loved and cherished, but I'm still concerned that our entire support circle isn't fully equipped to prepare her for the world as it is today (and was yesterday and will still be tomorrow).

I can only hope that she turns out as amazing as other children of color raised by white parents, such as Chad Goller-Sojourner (an amazingly eloquent writer and speaker) and of course, that new guy in the White House who you know, might just save the world.
Thats great when anyone adopt a child, I just think if the child race is different then yours. then you should help them understand their culture, along with another culture. I hate when I see a white person who adopt a black child and the child hair is not groom right. little do you know this does affect ones self esteem. please to all people who adopt a black child learn how to do their HAIR.or get someone that knows how too.
I read Barack Obama's book - Dream's From My Father - and I have found myself pondering his journey for a couple of weeks now. He is half white and I have wondered if his struggle for identity would have been as deep had he been raised by his African half of the family. Wondering all the time about his white heritage. He'll (we'll) never know. But as the mother of an adopted child who is now 34 years old and of the same race as his adoptive family...his longing to fill the big empty hole that he always talked about and his journey to do just that was no less and maybe no more painful than Barack's. We all long to find our significance and our belonging. Our journeys can break us or strengthen us to become better because of it. My intention is not to minimize anyone's story - just to add my thoughts.
Nurturing Connection, Morning View, Ky
Have you heard the expression "A bird can love a fish but where would they make their home?" That was a ridiculous reason given against interracial marriage. It was thought that the resulting children (myself included) would struggle with identity and non-acceptance in either culture.

Tell me, who's fault is that really?

These adopted children have parents who love them and that will hopefully help them through any identity crises they may have as they grow and learn.

Besides, would we rather they were raised in the foster care system?

I'm not trying to rip on people who adopt out of their race. I think it is a very compassionate thing to do, however, I am very suspicious about people who go out and adopt children in the Angelina Jolie sense and treat them as is they are a good PR photo opportunity. I'm really being cynical here and I'm sorry if it might have rubbed you the wrong way.
uh, jill, it was jen graves who wrote this, not erica c. barnett.

lola, angelina jolie does not adopt children because they are a good PR photo opportunity. that's madonna's job.
A quote from Dr. Joel Odimba regarding disproportionallity carries no weight for any of us associated with the child welfare community. OAACS was a huge failure by the standards of all of us that were connected with it. Imagine being told that because I am African American, I can't use the services at my local DSHS office (like every other race of people with the exception of American Indians). Dr. Odimba was one of the many administrators charged with the responsibility for making it work. He left this position and state service after less than a year. He eventually returned as the director of DCFS in King County (Region 4). OAACS failed not only because of its lack of leadership but also because it was illegal (separate but equal) and failed to recognize the needs of mixed race families. The other lawsuits that led to the downfall of this office illustrate the problem with this discussion. A child with one African American parent and one parent of another race were by the State's standards considered African American. I don't need to give you a list of anecdotal problems with this definition. On a related note, the fact that President-elect Obama was raised by his grandmother does not equate to a trans-racial adoption. To gain an understanding of the institutionalized racism within the system, talk to the people who know the system, the families and social workers. The director will always provide the institution's perspective.
Interesting article. For a blog post from Psychology Today magazine on this issue of colorblindness and White Americans (specifically, White parents), see: http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/sc…
Here is a joke that approximates my feelings about growing up multi-racial.

A baboon walks up to a zebra and asks, “Are you a white horse with black stripes, or a black horse with white stripes?”
After a moment the zebra replied: “No. I’m a fucking zebra.”

Reading through the comments you can see that most people have complicated ways of looking at their self and simple ways of looking at others. We live in a society with many cultures and a huge number of assumptions.

Everyone of us, regardless of where or how, needs to construct our identity. Don't put on blinders about the real issue, parenting. Chad sums it up very well:
"What I'd ask parents is, are you willing to be the uncomfortable one?"

When you raise a child you need to accept that they are going to have issues and needs that you don't directly understand, but you still need to help them.

The article is long but I can't help but think that you did this to quell some white guilt that you have over your reasoning for considering a transracial adoption. Your reasoning for wanting a child of color is quite flawed and steeped in privilege. I would hate to lump all white people who adopt a child of color and live in a community of largely white people in this same group though.

The real question to ask is to consider why kids are up for adoption in the first place, which is not addressed at all. You can blame yourself for that too. But there are many couples out there that who can't have children, and who aren't the same race as their potential adoptees. Should they restructure their social lives to feel "comfortable" or less guilty? I would argue that a well adjusted home, regardless of how those homes relate to all races at all places is a better home than no home at all. In fact, it's better than a dysfunctional home.

This is a great article for introspection on reasons for adopting but when it comes down to providing a good home, love really does factor in quite a bit.
So, what is the mechanism for helping these kids (excluding foster kids who have been removed from their families) stay with their families? I am thinking of adopting a child with parents, who was abandoned because his parents were too poor to keep him. I am white, he is African. If I don't choose this road, what are my other options for giving this back his parents? I can donate to charity, but he will still sit in an orphanage. Maybe the solution is that orphanages should be rearranged to accept sponsorship from families for families, instead of the adoption option. Maybe the whole system needs to be overhauled to help support families in need, who risk not being able to keep their kids? But - what happens today to the waiting kids? Right now, what happens? This is what I struggle with. I understand all of the reasons why it is NOT the solution but I don't know how to fix things today, right now. Is losing their culture a fair exchange for having a family? What a terrible question to have to answer! And yet, I have not figured out the mechanism for eliminating the need for adoption. What is it? If there was a way to eliminate the need and keep famlies together we should pursue it. Can it be done? How quickly?
swandive7: You have to focus on the now. Changing the situation you describe involves education, access to birth control, structural inequality in the global economy, and cultural constructs around gender, child bearing, and child rearing.

None of these will be corrected anytime soon. Why not, give a child a home now while also working on the bigger picture?

I think the biggest curse of the (white) liberal (elite) is that we overthink things well into the time when we should be taking action. Is this situation complicated? Yes. But navel-gazing and hand-wringing can only go on for so long before it's time to do something.
This was a great article. Another question I'd like us to see ourselves asking is, why is it that families of color are less often in a position to adopt? The beginning of the answer is of course the intricate ties of race and class, but as with the rest of this subject, it's got to be much deeper than that. As a mixed-race person whose birth mom (who raised me) is white and has missed a few of the finer points of race and racism in our small Bible Belt town, I can relate to a lot of what is being said, even not being adopted, and sure, like these folks, I was lucky to grow up with a loving mom either way, but let's stop silencing transracial adoptees when they try to tell us about their experiences.
Apparently I have a moderate preference for blacks and a strong preference for jews. Does that mean I should adopt an Ethopian Jew?

Yeah, some people had difficult childhoods. Does that mean that social policy and family structures need to be revamped to address those difficulties?

Who knows? This article is just a collection of engaging personal annecdotes and a pointer to an amusing internet distraction. There is no data in this article that might for the basis for any conclusions.
I'm a little disappointed that the author labeled herself a "moderate racist" because Harvard's Implicit Association Test suggested that she has, "a moderate automatic preference for European Americans compared to African Americans." The test itself explains the results as follows:

"How implicit associations affect our judgments and behaviors is not well understood and may be influenced by a number of variables. As such, the score should serve as an opportunity for self-reflection, not as a definitive assessment of your implicit thoughts or feelings. This and future research will clarify the way in which implicit thinking and feelings affects our perception, judgment, and action."

Nowhere does it indicate that an automatic preference equals racism. This is an important point because so much of the current race discussion relies on the necessity of admission of white racism. It's supposed to be cathartic, self healing, and so on, but I don't think it does much to get at the roots of the problem. It doesn't ask why we feel the way we do, which of our feelings are legitimate, or how we can change those that are not. It's almost too easy.

In the case of inter-racial adoptions, I don't think the problem stems from subconscious racism in white adoptive parents, but the failure of adoptive parents to understand that race matters, and that unless they make conscious, consistent and concerted efforts to maintain and act upon awareness of race, they are going to hurt the children they love.

Because, regardless of other issues, children of inter-racial adoptions are surely loved. At the end of the day, that love may be worth a lot more than any argument against such adoptions. That love may transcends racism, and it is out of love that many wonderful adoptive parents leave their personal comfort zones behind for the sake of their children. And I don't believe the parents who live up to the bulk of the challenges presented by inter-racial adoption are free of subconscious racial preferences, but I don't believe that they are racists either.
"White Culture"... meaning what? study hard, go to college, and get a good job instead of selling crack and having three out-of-wedlock babies you can't support?
"At his school, many of the kids are black. He comes home talking black, calling her "girl." It makes her proud, that he's getting black culture, black cadence." Talking Black? You must be kidding me. Pretty sure our President-elect doesn't talk this way, pretty sure he is black...what exactly does that mean anyway "talking black"? This one statement opens the discussion for how exactly does one define black culture? As white parents of black children we must be very careful not to fall into this trap of blindly accepting that "true" black culture includes poor grammar or that the use of the "N" word is OK for our adolescent children to sling at one another because their skin is the right color. While we must acknowledge that we have no right to define exactly what the black culture is, we can at least be sure to teach them that there is a deeper beauty and richness to it than they see in todays popular culture.
My mixed race biological daughter told me to read this article because she is aware how being a transracial adoptee has affected me.

What stood out the most for me was Jen's admission that part of her interest in adopting was to 'teach a lesson" to her racist family - which is inherently also a racist thing to do. To use a child in such a way clearly shows yet one more reason why many people are not thinking about a child's best interest when they choose to adopt. Moderate racist is still a racist, even if you assuage the guilt by admitting it.

People who adopt are often well-meaning, liberal-minded people. Well-meaning people are often misguided people who adopt for their own self interests, to fill a hole in their live, or because they savior complexes or all of the above. Liberal-minded people are often the culture appropriating people who adopt to prove how evolved and racially tolerant they are to themselves and the world.

One of the most damaging parts about growing up as a transracial adoptee is encountering the racism of your own parents towards the only people who look like you. Your liberal parents don't realize when they are sending you racist messages. You are too young and unsophisticated to realize they are sending you racist messages. It's a gross understatement to say this can mess a person up.

To correct other previous comments, I would like to interject here that being raised in mixed race families is nothing like being raised in a transracial family. There are zero cultural cues we get from our parents. The cultural information we do get from them is ALL ACADEMIC.

As stated well in the article, but not strong enough, as an experiment in social engineering transracial adoption imposes its message of racial harmony at the expense of the child. It is the child who must suffer the consequences of the adoptive parent's rainbow family dreams.

As a child of color, part of you longs to be accepted fully by those who look like you, but because you are raised without a thorough grounding in their culture, they don't fully accept you. As a child of color, you quickly learn that society views your race as second class, so you are conflicted and ashamed, instead of proud or your race. This is called internalized racism. It is not a fun place to grow up. As a child of color with white parents who are white culture and who have the most influence over your life, of course you are going to identify with their culture more. But society will see your skin and identify you with your race. And your race will see your lack of culture and see you as white. It is not having the best of both worlds. It is having no place in the world to belong to. There has been practically zero research into the alienation transracial adoptees feel, but there was a study in Sweden which compared intercountry (transracial) adoptees against immigrant children and non-adopted children, and the intercountry adoptees had a suicide rate five times higher than the non-adopted children.

Racial matching in adoption should be facilitated whenever possible. It is the best way for a child of color to be spared unnecessary emotional hardship on top of their already difficult beginnings.

As to the disproportionate amount of children of color in our domestic foster care and group homes, and the disparaging comments by other posters about black crack ho's, etc. It should be understood that African Americans already exceed whites proportionally with the amount of inter-family adoptions they step up to the plate for, many of these being unofficial.

Adoption exists and "orphans" are created (term in quotes because very few children up for adoption are there because they have no living parents) primarily because all us saviors choose to do nothing about our larger domestic social problems. Each child we save is merely a symptom of this pathology, a siphoning off from a continuous flow of tragedy. We should work to reduce and eliminate the creation of "orphans" in the first place. Reducing the amount of minority children being put up for adoption has everything to do with respecting women and providing hope and dignity to EVERYONE in our country.
I'm a "transracial" adoptee. I don't feel like I lost anything. My culture is American. I celebrate the 4rth of July,Thanksgiving, eat hot dogs and pizza.
Don't know if you all know this but thousands of black children are exported for adoption each year to white families in Canada and Germany each year because black and white Americans are unwilling to adopt them. Just like the girls from China coming to America, where they lose their country and racial identities. Why? For black families it is a case of too few middle-class families and too many foster/adoptive kids perhaps? For whites is it their own racism or the racism they will face as a family that stops them?

We have an adopted AA child. We are two white lesbians with lots of foster and adopted kids. Still we are talked about in our child's hearing at the store about what ho's we are by whites and blacks (they assume one of us is straight and slept with a black man). To which we sweetly reply, it is so much worse than you imagine, we chose to adopt her together...Our child is always better hairdo'd and dressed than any white child, but is the first to blame in any scuffle at the park, the last to be chosen by the librarian to sit on her lap, the first one that relatives that "forget" her birthday, the one that black and white women turn their children away when they see us playing with her at the park, she gets it all. And then the gay family stuff. She is very bright and beautiful, tall and strong; perhaps they are all jealous, I say to her.

But what was her personal choice as a baby, really? Dozens of family members came forward to claim her for fostering/adoption and all were rejected due to drug use, poverty and violent criminal records. Black girls and boys are the last to be fostered, the last to be adopted in America.

There is no Pow-Wow where she can meet with her culture like the Native peoples or Chinese classes for Chinese adoptees, precious few MLK, Kwanza and Juneteenth events locally. With the increase in interracial families locally, we hope that folks will get over themselves, especially all those folks with Obama stickers, eventually, but my daughter needs to grow up safe and happy with her preschool, sports, church now.

We do as much as we know how with black culture and talk about racism and just keep paying into the therapy fund. We are in contact with her birth family but they are active drug users, and so much of what they say is angry and hateful, which she would not understand right now, so she only sees pictures and notes until they are better or she is older and can understand.

Please direct your justifiable racial rage about economic in-equalities else-where towards education, home mortgage equity and drug and domestic abuse prevention funding, we are on your side. We do the best we know how with love. As the kids on the playground know, love someone black and your family is black too. After all, she will get our money for college and inheritance and that is the start of a kind of wealth redistribution. Just like the Obamas and the adopted girls from China, our adopted Black kids will have to grow-up and work to redefine our culture again as more interracial than we know.
All this coming from someone born into a well to do family who thinks she knows the answers. Complete c**t. When you maybe experience a little bit more from life other than sipping your merlot and being then new hipster yuppie who invades the CD and wonders what new makeover they can do on their house, maybe then you will take a good look in the mirror and realize what a complete douche you are.
All this coming from someone born into a well to do family who thinks she knows the answers. When you maybe experience a little bit more from life other than sipping your merlot and remaking your home in the CD, then maybe you can take a good look at yourself and realize what a ridiculous moron you are.
Too many children of color are being removed from their homes. Peer-outreach social services work especially well and need to be greatly expanded to provide 1st class counseling to birth parents needing mental health, substance abuse and vocational counseling. Peer counseling works. People who have "been there" and prevailed helping others to keep their kids. Also support for extended families -- the funds which go to foster families need to be allowed to go to extended natural families to allow them to take more responsibilities. We can profoundly change the picture described by this article.
I would like to say, as someone who is adopted and black and have white parents...this is bull shit! I have a black identity. My parents never tried to see me as anything but what I am. This article is disgusting. Black children are the MOST likely to live out their lives in foster care or group homes. I think it is totally iresponsible of the Stranger to put ANYTHING into print that would prevent a child from taking a child into their home. Shame. SHAME!
In response to retardedhipster: 1) the author of this article does not portend to know the answers; 2) although we do not know the specifics of the author's background, it is ridiculous to criticize someone who is actually trying to raise awareness of an important social issue merely because she comes from a privileged background; 3) you are just plain mean.
VERY interesting article.

I have 10 bio. (white) children, and 3 adopted (black) children from Africa. While we live in a very white community, our children do know and see other adopted black children. But, we do not want our white children or our black children to choose their friends on the basis of the color of their skin.

I, as a lowly white child, attended elementary school on the hilltop of Tacoma, when Stanley Elementary was 98% black. I loved my black friends. I didn't care that my skin was a different color. I hope the same for my black children.
The article made the mistake of stating certain opinions or perspectives as fact.
We are in the midst of adopting a black girl and I can assure you the social workers DO discuss race quite a bit. They DO want to know who we hang out with and even want to know what ethnic restaurants we like. We had to take a class concerning this issue and unlike the one described by one person in this article, ours was very thorough and did not shy away from any topic.
There was also inherent prejudice displayed in this article because it made the assumption that all children react to their situations the same way, or they have the same level of angst concerning their situation. Not all black children need the same kind of treatment. It is the same with children in adoption in genera: Not ALL of them are obsessed with connecting with their birthparents. It is important to LISTEN to the child and be attentive to possible issues and have a tool box of possible remedies. It is not a good idea to be and overly self critical white liberal who moves to a black community and fakes it if that is not where they want to live. I can't stand the city and that is where 95% of the black people in this state live. This article appears to be advocating I move there and pretend I like it. That is living a lie and your kid will eventually figure that out.
Be who you are and respect who your child is. Respect their need to connect with other black people and help them find role models, but don't let this overwhelm your lives. We all grow up with "issues" we have to deal with.
At some point all of us feel like we're in the "wrong" family. Many of us feel a hole inside, disconnected from the culture and people we grew up with. For adopted kids it's easy to look at the fact of adoption and say "that's why", but plenty of non-adopted people raised in single color families also wrestle with these questions of identity. Looking like your family can be as much of a trap as a comfort. If a non-adopted white person suffers from feelings of suffocating worthlessness, of alienation, etc. they're told "Get therapy, try some drugs." Adoptees are told "go find your roots!" Must be nice to have an external target for the whole situation.
If there's a choice between leaving a child in poverty and violence, but in a place where every one has the same color skin, or giving them a better life but in a place where they're "different"? Let the safe, educated adult be pissed off. And for those who say "Why not subsidize a poor family?" Part of the deal is that adoptive parents want to be parents, not private charities. (Not to mention that "natural" families have kids for all kinds of reasons, some of them horribly self-serving)
To all those who say "But I don't fit in anywhere!" Lots of us don't fit in. Be glad you live in a time and place where you can make your life more than your background.
I found the article fascinating. Thanks, Jen. I'm surprised that the issue of skin tone hasn't come up in the comments. 40 years ago in Seattle I gave birth to a mixed-race child whom I was absolutely incapable of raising. There were three months of anguish as the agency tried to find parents; my baby was rejected by a middle class black couple because she was not dark enough. What I found abhorrent was that the social worker thought this was somehow amusing. My child was raised by incredibly capable white parents and thrived despite whatever identity issues she might have had.

The black people who shouted on a bus or from a car at the white adoptive mother were not raised by competent parents. That behavior, so oblivious of its effect on the children, is cruel and unacceptable.

I'm surprised at the anger towards "Kris Kime" in the comments toward the end of this list. That moniker is the name of the young white man killed by a young black man in the Mardi Gras brawl in 2001.
I spent the first 7 years of my life in fostercare before being adopted. The first 5 years were spent living with a white family. I was removed from the home because when I was 5 because Social Services felt that I needed to be in a setting that would adequately reflect my African American culture.I was adopted by an African American family from another state. Although I am an adult now there are still some lasting effects. I feel like an outsider in both the Caucasian and African American settings.
I am a white woman with a bi-racial child, half black and half white.
I live in a predominantly white neighborhood and wondered whether my 10 year old felt different than the other kids. His answer was PROFOUND. Do you know what he said to me? "I don't feel different at all. Not from black people or white people. I am BOTH." From the mouths of babes.

So my own personal complaint? Why is it if a child is mixed that we discount the caucasian part of them and only recognize the black, hispanic, korean portion? Barack Obama is not JUST a black man - he is a white man as well. He is an american of mixed race. My son is very like skinned with nappy hair. White people call him black. Black people call him white. I call him my son. He is not a *whatever box you want him in to suit yourself*.

This is not about race, unless of course we are talking about the self poverty of the human race.

I think that people have such a poverty of soul that they are unable to be grateful, to recognize the opportunities that they had in this world.

For every individual who was adopted and loved by white parents and feels they got ripped off, I am sure there are 10 children from a variety of races that would have given anything to be in a home where they were wanted and loved - being loved would have been enough.
I am also a black who grew up in a trans-racial adopted home with white parents. I agree with Kadee. I think this article is very one sided.
- I would much rather have my college educated privileged life than one spent in the foster care system or even worse with seriously impaired bith parents.
- Transracial adoptees who are always whining about "not knowing who they are...", "something is missing...", and assorted bullshit should get a life. No one can fix your life for you. It's lovely to have someone else to blame. Therapy, Oprah, and the Jerry Springer show wouldn't exist if white america was all peaches and cream. It's true, adopted white parents can be insensitive to race. But most people in the white western industrial world (let's throw in China and Japan too) are insensitive to race, adoptee parents at least are trying.
- And lastly I have to say the people in this article that enraged me the most are the women with the black son who were proud of his "speaking black". I have many accomplished black friends, and they just speak like well educated people. Guess what?! There are many white people who speak in an uneducated manner too. Somehow, I bet these white women aren't striving to emulate thier manner of speech. What's the point of taking the boy out of the Ghetto if they're destined to put him back in it. tsk tsk
It's hard to say there should be a race-awareness test to adopt, but it's hard to say that white people should just be issued Black babies without any knowledge of what race really means in the U.S.

I think rather than transracial adoption-specific information, would-be white adopters of Black children should take African American studies courses and get a long-view of the impact of race on this country (and individuals within it) over time.

I'm pretty torn about it, as a PhD who specializes in Black and white race relations and as a white adoptive mom of Black children.

But I also think that the attention on domestic Black/white adoption is disproportionate to the number of those adoptions and I worry a bit more about Chinese American (for example) children growing up, yes, in white gated Minnesota communities because their white parents think Asian doesn't really count as "race" the way African American does. There is not nearly as much scrutiny on other transracial adoptions as on white/Black ones.

And there is a kind of possibility in domestic transracial adoptions that is sadly, just not there in most international, transracial adoptions--that's the possibility of children growing up to know their birth culture well because it's easily accessible to their adoptive families--as long as their adoptive families have the guts to access it. My kids are growing up with plenty of Black people around them including their birth families and that is as good as it gets as far as transracial adoption goes, I think.
I could say much about the racial discussion but I want to point out the numerous inaccurracies about adoption. Most adoptions are domestic (as opposed to international although there are roughly 20,000 international adoptions a year in America.) Blacks percentage wise adopt more than Whites and more often through the state child welfare system than private agencies. While Black children do leave this country for Canada and Germany and other countries, it is not in the thousands each year, more like 300 or less. There is no way to trace it becuase until recent Hague legislation noone was paying much attention but as an adoption attorney with many German and Canadian clients, there is no way it is in the thousands. And there are Black people who live in Canada and Germany who have not been imported. Which goes to the confusion of race, ethnicity , and nationality which is often used interchangably but generally are actually seperate concepts. Also many of the transracial adoptees are being adopted as babies by parents making voluntary decisions as opposed to child welfare children who the States removed from their biological parents' care. Too many parents in addressing this issue, whatever "side" you may be on always start talking about the poor crack head mom that would be horrible for the child. Well, not every woman who makes this difficult life altering decision (and father if involved) is a poor crackhead. Sometimes she is but most are not. While I think poverty plays a huge role in adoption both domestically and internationally, it is not the sole role and/or reason that a child becomes available for adoption. And finally many adoption agencies ( so obviously this excludes the child welfare adoptions) charge different prices for their services based on the race of the baby. Thus, bluntly some children are less expensive to obtain, and the restrictions imposed on adopting parents like "age" as one example is waived. Simple point: race matters in adoption.

Finally 2 race points. First, while many transracial adoptees grow up to be healthy human beings, as one told me this afternoon- many of her transracial adoptee peers have engaged in therapy. ( And most of the therapists are clueless about adoption). It is not that there is anything wrong with therapy, but some transracial adoptees have to look outside their families ( many who have very loving families) to help navigate finding a healthy racial identity, adoptee identity, self identity, and /or dealing with a race conscious society. A parents' job, one of many, is to help their child navigate this world. That includes navigating a race conscious society that often treats people of color as less than fully American. If a child does get this help from his or her parents they will get it from someone else, hopefully someone good, or they develop self hate. Have you ever met a transracial adoptee who hates people of their race? I have. Talk about self hate. And watching them be scared of people who look like them is sad. And equally devestating is if they choose to have contact with their birth parents. How do they have contact when they hate people of their parents race?

Second, the assumption that becuase some Biracial kids consider themselves as "both" that the world will be all peachy keen and that they see the world in a post racial society is a false assumption. First young kids understand race differently than adults. Second, even when they see each themselves as both does not mean the rest of America sees them as both. And third Biracial adults who identify as Biracial are keenly aware that the choice to identify as Biracial is not always easy. Worth it but not always easy. And just becuase a Biracial person does not chooose to identify as Biracial but as a single race is a personal decision that is not usually made to offend Whites and or to reject Whites. But the choice has personal, political, ans social implications. For many it is just easier when people percieve them as a person of color to identify with the minority race.See www.mixedheritagecenter

P.S. The movie Losing Isaiah would NEVER happen in real life as it did in the theatres. It is based on faulty legal theories. They could have made a movie that addressed the issue with a possible fact scenario but they choose not too.

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