United States

Too Expensive For Black People to Adopt?

Here is a video I found, and my response to this post. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfVRnOUTg6M

Common responses:

"We [black people] adopt all the time, but it's not centered on paperwork and formalities."

"Black people do adopt, but media sensationalizes those elite white people who rescue [adopt] kids so, people don't hear about what we're doing."

"It's too expensive to adopt."

I am thankful to  have heard so many honest responses and am gathering that the definition of adoption differs amongst cultures and ethnic communities. It seems as though the black folks who responded to the last post and in this video feel that adoption means that a biologically related family member would simply take care of a child - short or long term and the lowest two rungs on Maslow's hierarchy of needs being the most important (safety and physiology). In my professional adoption work, and continued involvement with adoption communities, I hear adoption discussed more as a permanent solution, stability and permanency being the pinnacle of the equation, and all of the needs being attended to (security, physiology, social, esteem and self-actualizing).

Thus, I still feel that my basic question has gone unanswered. Not all children are so fortunate to be informally adopted by a relative, so why aren't black families adopting already born children of color through foster care (generally no fees - thus dissuading the argument of the high costs of adoption).?

You Sound White

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The traveling Race Exhibit is currently residing at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. It is a mind blowing exhibit that is not easy to digest in one sitting. The topics range from crime and race to race and real estate (redlining and the Fair Housing Laws etc.) to racial disparities within education.

The photo below shows how each individual would've marked the census on the corresponding years. Should we continue to ask people to check a box indicating their race on our yearly census form? Judging from our history - we aren't faring so well with the whole labeling thing. Lest us forget that race is a socially constructed  concept anyways. Is it important to keep this data for the sake of government benefits, money allocation and/or working to reintegrate communities (racially)? Does the Hispanic origin section confuse Latino's? Why does White always come first on the census - shouldn't it be alphabetical?

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People were asked to write down their thoughts throughout the exhibit. Here are a few:

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Why don't more black people adopt transracially?

marley 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?

My new sister; NaNa

Ang and NaNa
Ang and NaNa

I have five sisters and two brothers in my immediate family with whom I have shared everything, toys, clothes, germs, love and more. I guess you'd say we had the typical sibling relationships for a large family.

I have always known that I had a birth sister who is three years older than me. The adoption documents my parents were given at the time of my adoption stated that "Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson..." Over the years I have read those words hundreds of times, curious about this girl who shared my genes. As the years passed, and things around me changed, friends came and went, sports seasons flew by, presidents served their terms, high school graduation, college graduation, jobs and marriage, those written words forever stayed the same,

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

"Angela has a three year old sister named Carolyn Johnson, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee..."

I read these words over and over again, year after year, completely forgetting that she wouldn't be three years old anymore as each year passed, and as I changed each year, perhaps she did too. Perhaps she got married, and maybe her last name has changed...

Last July, I met my 6th sister, Carolyn, however she was not 3 years old, she was 29. And people weren't calling her "Carolyn," but instead, "Na-Na." Her last name was no longer Johnson, but rather, Young, and she has two beautiful daughters. The only remaining truth, was her residence in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that had not changed, but the words of how i knew my long lost sister had already been emblazoned in my head.

I wish I knew how she's spent her 29 years, I wish I knew how she got her nickname, I wish I was there the day her last name was changed. I wish I was there when she had her children, and became a mother. I missed out on 29 years, but am so thankful that I can now spend my Sunday evenings getting answers to those questions, during our weekly Skype date.

Though we do not share the same last name, and nor do we share the same worldview or culture, we do share the same genes and thus are bound by blood. Now that our worlds have collided we can begin to learn all about each other. I have learned how to pronounce "NaNa," (NAY-nay) and am beginning to feel more comfortable using her nickname (even though her proper name, Carolyn, seems more natural for me). I understand that our upbringing has been completely different, and that the cultural norms vary greatly for both of us. The meeting and befriending of my birth sisters has been a jumble of emotions, ranging from fear of the unknown (what will she look like? What will she sound like?) to excitement (can't believe that's her!). I've felt the emotional pangs of worry (will she want to get to know me?), and embarrassment (her southern accent is so thick! What is she saying? What does that word mean?) however I have no qualms about my emotions, as there is no script written for how these relationships succeed, so I'll presume our relationship is just where it should be, jumble of emotions and all.

Of the nearly 7 billion people who walk this Earth, there is only one whom I enjoy devoting my Sunday evenings to; my new sister, Na-Na (& her daughters).

Family
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