Transracial adoption has been a controversial topic among human right groups and the American society in the recent past. The subject has evoked acrimonious argument and counter arguments between those who perceive the act as beneficial to vulnerable children and those who view it as being injurious to children of black descent. Strategies to develop structures that enhance race-matching policies and preferences in the adoption plan have been intensified to reduce the harm to black children in their foster families. Efforts to redefine transracial adoption have made the children and the adoptive families to find themselves at crossroads between legal and political battles. Although this form of adoption helps in giving hope to the poor and vulnerable children, the shortcomings of the whole idea overrides the benefits that can be realized thus making it not only inappropriate but also insignificant in improvement of the welfare of the black children (Fern &Marina 4). This paper therefore seeks to explore the concept of transracial adoption as hitherto outlined.
According to Lotaria the entire history of transracial adoption has been marred with controversies over placement of black children under the care of white foster parents (10). The irony in the whole adoption twist is that white children are rarely adopted by black parents. A study by Gail and Hall indicates that 40% of children who are adopted in the United States are blacks. The social workers on the other hand are also opposed ideas of placing black children under the care of white families (15). However, the idea of white parents adopting children of Hispanic, Asian or other races has not attracted much debate or resistance.
Transracial adoption started in the United States after the Second World War when thousands of children were left parentless and homeless. The first documented case of transracial adoption took place in Minnesota in 1948.By 1950s; the cases of TRA were very minimal since the policies were so stringent and discouraged adoption. The law only encouraged same-race adoption so as to enhance good relationship and parenting (Lotaria 10).
In 1960s, a section of the American was receptive to TRA ides. Various civil right organizations caught attention of the media by highlighting the plight of the minority who needed housing and other basic needs. The number of white parents who wanted to adopt black children adopted tremendously thus. By 1974, the number of black children adopted by white families reached 2574.
The NABSW in 1972 publicly denounced their dissatisfaction to transracial adoption. They argued that black children psychologically, physically and culturally belonged to the black families to develop a total sense of their well-being and a sound future projection. They also highlighted that black children are cut off from healthy development if placed in white homes. Their identity and self-determination was at jeopardy thus terming the whole practice as a form of genocide against black children (Lotaria 10).
Arguments opposing Transracial Adoption
Opponents to transracial adoption reiterate that this form of adoption has far-reaching consequences that causes harm to the entire black community thus terming the act as detrimental. Smith is critical to the idea of placing black children under the care of white families. He argues that black children are placed under no care of a black parent. The children don’t learn how to deal with issues related to racial abuses and assaults. Black parents are the only ones who have the know-how on dealing with racial discrimination since white parents have never experienced the injustice and may not know how to deal with it. An argument describing social armoring depicts that white parents can’t teach black children how to ignore or fend for themselves in the event of a racial assault. They are likely to resort to fighting those individual who assault the adoptee a condition that leaves the black child with little to learn in the event that he is attacked when the foster parents is not there. This form of parenting hinders the development of the child’s psychological needs. Furthermore, white parents are not endowed with positive black identity attitudes that are crucial in enhancing a child’s self –esteem and recognition in case he is confronted with the barbaric act (1).
Black children are also faced with the stigma associated with adoption because it is easy to for one to note that he was adopted due to conspicuous variations in the skin color. Fern and Marina rests his assumption basing on the societal perception of adoption. Primarily, adoption has a negative connotation where an individual is perceived to lose his parental rights either willingly or unwillingly. The stigma stems from the notion that the child was either a product of unwanted pregnancy, a product of poor parents; on in the even the child was born as a result of rape (4). Opponents to TRA strive to protect black children from stigma by recommending that if adoption has to take place, then it has to be between families of the same race since the child will resemble the parents in one way or another unlike in the event where a black child is placed under the care of a white parent.
Transracial adoption has also been termed as cultural genocide. This is because the culture of the black people automatically diminishes since the child adopts new family’s way of living. Black children can only acquire positive black attitudes and identity if they are brought up by black parents. The white family has no means of identifying with the black identity thus making the black community lose a valuable resource for posterity (Lotari 10).
The adopting parents are also faced with a lot of challenges in TRA. The families are likely to be subjected to hostility or prejudices for taking children from a different race. For instance, a study by Kristi reveals that some families have received negative comments from their immediate relatives and family members about their decision to adopt transracially.Some people as intrusive questions like, why did you choose to adopt a black child ?or are you sure you made the right decision. These comments leaves the foster parents depressed a fact that may put a child’s interests in jeopardy as they might start thinking that they made a wrong decision. To avoid these psychological trauma levies to those people who are giving hope to the vulnerable children in the society, transracial adoption should be avoided at all cost (22).
Arguments supporting transracial adoption
To begin with, transracial adoption gives hope to those children who could otherwise miss a home to find permanent and healthy residency. Racial profiling is always not to the interest of the child to an extent that it jeopardizes a lifetime opportunity of accessing a permanent residence. There is also less chance of the child being harmed by the foster parents as the child is always under routine watch of adoption agencies. A research by Gail and Hall reveals that those adoptees that had permanent residency were happier than those who had temporary residence under the care of the adoption agencies. They seemed to be psychologically depressed making permanent adoption between different races to be a permanent workable solution in addressing the plight of these children (15).
Proponents of TRA also depicts that the act helps in reducing racial discrimination and tension in the society. The adopting families and their immediate neighbors and relatives comes to the terms with the fact that blacks are human beings like other and they deserve to be treated equally with respect like other. The social contact between the whites and the blacks is enhanced thus playing a crucial role in changing people’s perceptions and mindset on the differences that exists between the whites and the blacks (Smith 1).
According to Fern and Marina Transracial adoption plays an important role in matching those parents who are not capable of forming a family either by choice or due to health reasons. Since many black children are out for adoption unlike the white children, preferences for parents of the same race may make it hard for black children to find permanent families. The adopting parents also learn about the new culture and make them committed to the whole adoption process (4).
Analysis of transracial adoption
The most important thing to put into account regardless of the position of those in support or opposing transracial adoption is that the practice plays a salient role in bringing solutions to the society. However, the whole process of adoption is a sham as it is a strategy to providing solutions without necessarily identifying the real cause of the problem. This places the validity and reliability of the maxim in doubt whether it is a course worth pursuing or it is just a means to an end for those parents who are not in a position to start a family. Another dimension transracial adoption that leaves many to wonder is not whether it is right or wrong for the white families to adopt black children but rather, why many black children are the ones mostly available for adoption unlike their white counterparts. The question here is “What is pushing many black children into system of fostering that does not have effects on the white children?” Rationally speaking, it is not true to say that the African parents lack adequate parenting skills to cater for the upbringing of their children. The main issues that need to be addressed so as to bring the whole matter to an end is to develop strategies that will help to bring into check forces like discrimination, poverty and inadequate health amenities so as to place black parents in the level fields with their white parents. These initiatives will help to end inequalities that exists in the society
From the foregone discussion, one notices the need to review the legislation that governs transracial adoption to bring to an end the controversy that surrounds the practice. Although this form of adoption has given hope to the vulnerable children in the society, there is need to re-examine the discourse that bedevils the process. The focus has to shift from just meeting the needs of the child by providing a home and satisfying the desire of white people who cannot start a family to become parents.
Tran racial adoption has to be done away with since the interests of the black child, community and families have been ignored. Instead of giving away black children, the state has to empower the blacks who are the minority in the society by enacting legislation that promotes equality, access to safe housing and job opportunities. This will help reduce the act, as some of the reasons behind one giving out his child for adoption are lack of enough financial resources to support the child. When people have an access to the means of production, there is a significant likelihood that no one will be willing to give away his child for adoption.
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Smith, Darron. “Can Love Overcome Race in Transracial Adoption?” The Huffington Post.
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