“Do whites need training before parenting Black children?” This is an interesting question posed in the headline of a CNN story published today. Current federal policy stresses a “colorblind” approach to transracial adoption, meant to encourage white parents to adopt children of color. A report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute argues that this approach is a disservice to Black children. “Color consciousness — not ‘color blindness’ — should help to shape policy development,” the report said.
John Mould and his son, Eric Jones, 15
Foster care in the United States holds disproportionately high number of black children up for adoption. Black kids only make up 15% of all U.S. children, but in 2006, they represented a whopping 32% of the half million children in foster care. On average, they languish in foster care up to nine months longer than their white counterparts before moving into permanent homes – and of the black children adopted out of foster care, 1 in 5 will end up with a white family. To date, federal legislation prohibits race from being taken into consideration in most decisions about adoption from foster care. For example, white parents seeking to adopt a black child cannot be required to undergo race-oriented training that differs in any way from regular training that all prospective parents receive. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute seeks to change this standard. “The view that we can be colorblind is a wonderful, idealistic perspective, but we don’t live there,” Donaldson Institute’s executive director Adam Pertman said, “If we want to do the best for the kids, we have to look at their realities.” In order to accomplish this, Pertman wants to institutionalize pre-adoption training to adequately prepare white parents for the distinctive challenges they might face, raising Black children. The Donaldson Institute report also stresses the importance of enforcing legislation dedicated towards recruiting more adoptive parents of the same race as the children.
Critics of the Donaldson report include Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who directs the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. Bartholet believes that screenings and training could be a superficial detriment to the adoption process. John Mould and Margaret Geiger, an Ambler, Pennsylvania, couple who have two white biological children and five black adopted children agree with Professor Bartholet. Mould said “transracial adoption is unquestionably challenging,” but he worries about any changes that might make training and screening requirements too rigid. “White or black doesn’t matter,” he said. “What counts is whether the parents are ready to take responsibility.”
Well.. is that all that counts?
(this article draws heavily from the CNN.com article, Do Whites Need Training Before Parenting Black Children)