Much ado about nothing when it comes to adoptions
May 11, 2010 11:20 AM
A family adopting a child from the foster care system is a beautiful thing, and is generally celebrated in American society. But things can get a bit tricky when it comes to parents who adopt children of a different race than their own.
Golden Globe winner Sandra Bullock was recently the target of criticism after becoming the adoptive parent of an African American infant. Critics pegged her with the "white savior" title, suggesting that she chose a black child to feel better about some "rich white lady" complex she might have.
According to the 2000 Census, 1.4 million American children were adopted, and of those one in six was of a different race than their adoptive parents.
In a perfect world, everyone would be happy that a child who would otherwise be alone has found a family to be a part of, regardless of what race the family is, but of course this isn't the way it is.
Why are interracial adoptions such a big deal? There is the concern of a loss of culture, which was highlighted earlier this year when more Americans became interested in adopting orphans from Haiti after the earthquakes. Humanitarians were worried that taking a child away from its homeland, out of the community and culture that it was born into, could result in a loss of self-identity.
Domestic adoptions share the same concern.
Raising any child in a different cultural environment than its own has the potential to make them feel lost and confused, or experience a lack of community.
But in addition to the long process of background and reference checks, as well as legal work, that comes with adoption, parents who adopt an interracial child need to take one more step of preparation--adjusting to the racial conflicts that come along with it. They need to be sensitive to the child's original culture and make sure to incorporate it evenly with its new one. They also need to be prepared for society to judge them.
There is also the debate that African Americans should "step up" and adopt more of their own.
According to the National Council for Adoption, about 70 percent of adoptive parents are white. But this is a misleading statistic since it only includes adoptions done through the foster care system.
African American families often adopt children into their families unofficially, so it's not a question of who is doing their part.
Adoption should be celebrated no matter who is adopting or who is being adopted. Matching children with families of the same race might be an ideal situation to some, but the timeliness of getting a child out of the foster care system and into a caring forever family is more of a priority.
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