Why don’t more black people adopt transracially?

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Why don’t more black people adopt children of other races? Is the answer the antithesis of how some Caucasians adopt black children/teens out of a deep rooted sense of white guilt? I really hope not. This is not the answer I’m hearing as I’ve gotten to know families who have either adopted, or are in the process of adopting children of another ethnicity. What I see and hear from the vast majority of these folks, is a genuine interest in their child’s native country, or a true attempt at understanding that child’s original culture, and a desire to understand how their child’s ethnicity will interact with the current racial climate in the United States. This is all good and well, so why are we not seeing the same rate of transracial adoption of black adoptive parents? I, for instance, have a great desire to learn about why Caucasian’s feel that they are the status-quo, I have an interest in the psychology behind the society’s perception of straight hair being a glamorized feature, and I have a genuine interest in learning more about the European colonization of America. Why then would it be taboo, unnatural and out of place for someone like myself, an African-American woman, to adopt a red headed, fair skinned girl from Montana, or a blonde haired, green eyed boy from Lithuania? What is holding us African-American folk’s back? An African-American father who has a Caucasian daughter said “I’ve never felt more self-consciously black than while holding our little white girl’s hand in public.” I find this comment to be quite sad and unfortunate, and likely a good indicator of a possible deterrent. I hope that in many of the ways that Caucasian adoptive parents have found each other, and banded together to support one another, I hope that a community of people with similar familial make-up as the gentleman I quoted will band together.  I hope that the word “transracial adoption” can expand to include black adoptive parents with children of other races too.

While working as an adoption professional, I explored this question with my colleagues and clients, and I do hope to delve into it more deeply at some point. I know that the African community does quite a bit of informal adoption – holding strong to the belief that a child should stay within their family at all costs, whether that means grandparents, godparents, cousins, aunts or uncles are raising the child. I certainly understand this and feel that any child (regardless of race) should remain in or close to their natural family, if possible. Of course finances are always a part of the equation as well when it comes to raising a child (and adopting a child). The disparity in income between the races continues to grow wider (especially post-recession), so I could understand how the international adoptions or domestic infant adoption’s may not be plausible (this is a topic for another day), however there is still the option of adopting through the state which does not cost. So my question remains; why don’t black people adopt transracially at the same rate (proportional to our demographics) as Caucasian’s? Are there other reasons that I’ve overlooked?

25 thoughts on “Why don’t more black people adopt transracially?

  1. I’m not exactly sure, but I know from my friends who have adopted domestically, the birth mother chose the adoptive parents. I am not sure if that happens in every state or with every agency. But it might be one of the many reasons you don’t see more African Americans adopting transracially.

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  2. Your post was well said and thought provoking. My simple answer would be the historical stability of Caucasian race in American and financial means. I believe my parents were moved to adopt out of compassion, hope and a desire to have more children when unable to do so. Our motives can never be absolutely pure but God uses what we offer anyways.

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  3. Thanks for your comment and your point of view. Yes, most private adoptions now allow the birthparents to choose who they’d like to adopt their child – however, even though there is typically a long waiting list of prospective parents, there aren’t many/any folks of color for the birth parents to even consider. This leaves me curious…

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  4. Hi Judy! Thank you. I agree with you about the fact that our country’s racial history certainly plays a large part in racial minorities’ ability to adopt. I don’t doubt that most adoptive parents adopt with great reason and pure motives, however I think this can be true for black adoptive parents too – I’m just wondering why there isn’t a larger pool of black adoptive parents to ask this question directly to.

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  5. I love all your questions, Angela, and I am also curious! I recently saw a video in which an Asian couple adopted a Caucasian child. I did not like a lot of things about this video, but it brought up a normally unseen dynamic…then again, this baby may have been Asian to some degree or biracial, so I should not let me perceptions tell the story for sure. The infant appeared to have more Caucasian features at the age of 10 months.

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  6. Why would Black people want to adopt non-Black children? No one wants us but us … it’s important that we take care of our own. There are tons of people that want white babies … I say let them have ’em.

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  7. Great post-very thought provoking. I cannot speak as to how the African American community looks upon adoption of Caucasian babies by African American families. What does come to mind is how Caucasian birthparents feel placing the baby with a couple in which neither parent is Caucasian. Another issue is how many Caucasian couples are hoping to adopt and how few Caucasian babies are placed every year. This would definitely make for interesting research. In the future, I hope to read more about this in your blog.

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  8. Thanks for your response and your take on the question. There certainly are a lot of Caucasian prospective adoptive families seeking to adopt Caucasian newborns…However, this is not so much the case for older children. Would your outlook be the same considering that there are many Caucasian children sitting in foster care without a home? Would race matter to you then?

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  9. Thank you and hopefully I’ll be able to write more fact based research papers someday on this topic, as well as the topic you raised RE: Caucasian birthparents and the impact of the prospective adoptive parents’ skin color. I’ve been so pleased to hear my birthmother state that she is not disturbed in the slightest that I was raised by Caucasian parents. Although, I know that this doesn’t exactly speak to what she might’ve done if she had the choice when I was born to choose between parents of color or my parents.

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  10. I am Caucasian, Jewish and my daughter is Asian so she looks different than most Jews. Despite the fact that she is being raised Jewish, I sometimes worry that she won’t be accepted by other Jews as being truly Jewish, particularly among those that are very religious. Maybe there is a similar reasoning – maybe some African American parents are concerned that their Caucasian children won’t be accepted into the African American community as a whole?

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  11. Interesting question. I admit on my own blog that I had some guilt about limiting my adoption search to children of color. I specifically wanted to adopt an African American child, though I did broaden my search to include Latino/Hispanic kids as well. It was a choice based on lots of things. I can’t say that it was dramatically different than some of my fellow White pre-adoptive parents who wanted to adopt White children; there were likely some assumptions that it would be *easier,* with one less thing to tackle publicly. This process is laden with lots of tough decisions, especially for those of us adopting older children; the question of race is but one of varying importance based on perspective. I’d just like to see more Af-Am families consider adoption in general; lots of kids, all kinds of kids, need homes.

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  12. Thank you for your response. You articulated a reason to why some people choose to adopt a child of the same race. Thank you for your perspective – it is so valuable. I will be checking out your blog! I wholeheartedly agree with you about the need for more Afro-Amer adoptive parents.

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  13. My husband and I are a black/white interracial couple adopting an older child through foster care. I know that in our urban area, a large number of waiting children are black and hispanic and that they make an effort to place children cis-racially whenever possible. However, apart from kinship foster/adoptive families, there are fewer potential adoptive families of color. So for us, as a interracial family, they are eager to place a minority child with us so that a child can grow up with at least one parent who understands the minority experience in America.

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  14. We are a waiting family with a large agency with a very good reputation In NYC. After waiting for over a year, we inquired as to why they thought that there had not been as much birthparent interest in our profile as we had hoped. Our SW said that their experience is that only african-american birth families would be interested in placing with our family like ours (husband is african american, I am multi-racial). She said that there are not as many bi-racial or multi-racial babies being placed as people think and that birth families of other races, like Latino or Asian probably would not consider us. So it was a big surprise to us that even though we are open to all races, only a limited group of african-american birth families would be open to considering us. But our SW claims this is the reality with few exceptions.

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  15. I think the reason is quite simple. Most people prefer to adopt their own race. However, for whites to adopt white babies, they need to wait on long waiting lists & pay extra fees.to get children of their own race.

    There is an adundance of Black children up for adoption, and supply/demand makes the cost of adopting Black children less than other races. So— it becomes quite simple:

    1.) Adopt a child of your own race — cheaper & easier
    2.) Adopy a child of another race — harder, more expensive

    It’s a simply win win for Black couples. If white children were more abundant and less expensie to adopt, you’d find drastically lower numbers of whites adopting Black children, almost to the point of none at all is my guess.

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  16. I know that this post is quite old, but I’d like to shed like on a seemingly less likely senerio. My husband and I are both African American. We have one birth child and one adopted who looks like us. We are still wanting to have more children, but would also like to foster to adopt at the same time. We live in a state where African American children make up only 3% or less in the foster care system. It’s highly unlikely that we will have a child that matches us placed in our home. We’ve opened our home and hearts to whatever the Lord leads our way, which will more than likely either be native American 64% or Caucasian 22%. I’m quite looking forward to raising a multi ethnic brood.

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  17. I find the question and therefore suggestion that white adopters of black children may be doing so out of ‘deep-rooted racial guilt’ troubling. Although the point is framed as a question, it seems to me that the writer believes in the veracity of the suggestion. Is there empirical evidence from whites adopting black children to support the ‘deep-rooted guilt’ suggestion? As a black Brit, I find the approach to race relations of some African-Americans too negative and aggressive, especially towards people trying to bring people of different races together. Who knows, this may be a contributory factor to the rarity of blacks adopting white children.

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  19. My opinion: the crucial thing is WHERE to adopt child. For black child in white adoptive it should be neighborhood of blacks and whites; diversive section. For white child – much the same case. Kids themselves have always been adopting new environment – until they grow up and find the thing called identity. Personally i’ve never really doubted competence of black people to integrate whites to their society. Besides there’s an option of those white children finally integrate totally to black community including marrying black spouse and “become black”.

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