Since Sandra Bullock announced her adoption of an African American baby, I’ve seen countless news medias reporting on the “controversy” surrounding transracial adoption. It seems like celebrity adoptions often become the grist for the mill of those who have an agenda to push about transracial adoption. To me, this recent CNN interview is a perfect example of the polarity of thinking when it comes to the practice.
Lisa Rollins shares her personal concerns that some white people are not equipped to help black children deal with racism (which the next speaker handily illustrates), but then goes on to suggest that there are options for children in fostercare or children in Haiti that have been ignored. She also suggests that black social workers are not seeking out same-race families – as if there are many families lined up to adopt African American children in the fostercare system. But the facts don’t line up with her narrative: of the 300,000 orphans that were in Haiti prior to the earthquake, only 900 left to be adopted. The majority of Haitian orphans are being cared for in their own country. And kinship adoption is the most common form of adoption from fostercare, with black women representing the majority of people adopting black children
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, tens of thousands of nonwhite children are waiting for adoptive families, and many have remained in foster care for at least two years. Of the 525,000 children in foster care, 45 percent are African American. So the fact that Lisa Rollins suggests that there are easy answers and alternatives to the practice of transracial adoption when the numbers are so staggering? Makes my blood boil a little bit.
But then, in the other corner and representing the “transracial adoption as puppies and roses” side is Wendy Walsh, who suggests that race is not an issue at all, and that adoption is colorblind and all that jazz She describes her kids as a racial curiosity, and seems to have no clue of how that might feel for them. She is completely obvious to the possibility that transracially adopted children might experience some racial disconnect, and even goes so far as to say that race should only be examined if you are over 40. (Have I got a story about some 4-year-olds for her.)
This report mostly bothers me because it is further polarizing the wide gap between adoptive parents and adult adoptees, choosing two women with extremely biased views and pitting them against each other in a debate. And the result is that neither point is heard, both sides dismiss the real issues on the table, and the chasm between adoptive parents and adult adoptees widens.
The reality: there are black children waiting for homes, and a shortage of black families.
The reality: transracially adopted children will struggle with their racial identity.
I just wish that the adoption community could begin to see the complexity of the situation, instead of pushing the typical agendas of either ignoring the need for families for waiting children OR ignoring the racial issues inherent in transracial adoption. Why is it so hard for us to look at both at the same time?