“Black folks – Is it insulting to think about raising a white child?”
Great question posed by Angela Tucker in a recent blogpost entitled, “Why didn’t any Black parents want to adopt me.”
So, hmmm, what’s the answer? Well, I, at times, hate to speak on behalf of Black folks, so my responses are my own.
Nope, it’s not insulting to think about raising a White child. I just chose not to. I’ll admit that when I filled out my matching tool, I grappled with the decision to limit my match to children of color. I wondered what that said about me, not wanting to parent a White child.
Did it say I was bigoted? Did I think I could do it? Did I wonder what my friends and family would think if I was matched with and eventually adopted a White child? How did I really feel about it? On the edges, it was a messy thought process, to be honest. Especially since I am diversity professional and prattle on about inclusiveness day in and day out.
Honestly though, the emphasis of my thought process rested in the fact that I really wanted to parent a Black child. I wanted to enjoy the inherent privilege associated with same race adoption. I wanted to enjoy my daughter and not having prying eyes wonder what was up with our family construction. In short, I didn’t want to deal. I wanted my family to pass. If there’s an easy adoption path, I thought same race adoption would at least be on that path. Some days, I’m not sure if it is easier.
So, in answer to the main title question, I did want to adopt a child like Angela, and my beautiful daughter Hope was a perfect match. I’m not sure how many of us, parents of color, are in the hopper to formally adopt, though. Sure there’s a high percentage of kinship adoption. For those of us who adopt through other channels, I would imagine that more of us are probably like me and just want to enjoy racial privilege in this area. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like there are lots of opportunities to enjoy racial privilege around these parts, goals of a post-racial society notwithstanding.
The numbers of kids also seems to work in our favor as well, as another blogger I recently engaged wrote—kids of color are available. White, non-Hispanic children make up 49% of adopted children in the US, according to the Census Bureau, and White households make up 78% of adoptive families. Transracial adoptions make up 40% of adoptions, and international adoptions make up 37% of transracial adoptions.
And still, Black children remain overrepresented in the foster care system.
So we see families of color adopting at a rate of just over 20%, and the availability and opportunity to adopt same race children is likely occurring at an even greater percentage than that of their White parental counterparts.
The math suggests that unless there is a deliberate desire to parent across race by people of color, it’s probably unlikely to happen in large numbers. I’m not sure what it will take for that deliberate desire to develop.
And we can all feel some kind of way about that…or not. I guess. I wasn’t willing to help out on getting past our racial issues in my own choice to parent. I am ok with that choice; building my family wasn’t about social commentary or saving the world, it was about me wanting to be a mom. It was kind of selfish to be honest.
I respect those who embrace transracial adoption because they too, just want to be moms and dads; like me, they simply wanted to be parents. The decision making process around being a parent, how to become a parent and how to then parent is so personalized. As I often say, it’s messy.
I’ve never thought that the concept of ‘transracial adoption’ was limited to White parents with children of color; I didn’t think that it excluded Black parents with White children. I disagree with the Black Social Workers Association’s language about genocide and transracial adoption, but I do agree with the group in that it feels like the system is quick to remove brown and black children from their homes permanently, thus contributing to their overrepresentation in the foster care system and setting up the numbers game that exists.
Sadly, in addition to the math, I do think that there remains a certain taboo of sorts around adoption in the Black community; it’s unfortunate. I think that the taboos are tied up in lots of things like, “don’t get in my business” (there’s a LOT of that in adoption process), “don’t judge me” (in a community that often feels judged), “it’s God’s will that I not be a parent” (religion can be spun so discouragingly sometimes).
I believe that Black parents can raise White children, and they may even be willing to do so at the same percentage rate as their White counterparts. I don’t know. But I think there are bridges to cross, and I think that the “step up” that Angela refers to in her essay is often seen through the lens of “stepping up” within group rather than across groups.
I strive to teach Hope about inclusivity. At her age, she dreams of having biological children with a husband; she eschews the idea of adopting herself one day. Who knows what will happen in her future with respect to parenting. Hope struggles with lots of racial identity issues, more along the lines of a concept that the world is a narrow one for Black folks—we don’t do this, we aren’t allowed to do that. They are probably similar to and different from struggles experienced in transracial adoptive families. It’s all hard sometimes whether you’re same race or transracial, I’m guessing.
If I choose to add to my family, I admit I probably would make the same decision again. I just would. I certainly could choose to expand my matching search but I don’t think I want to. I’m not trying to make a statement about anything. I just want to be a mom. I admit that the pull of color is a strong one. There’s also the pull of the numbers and availability. None of these choice limiting influences makes me a bad person, and I certainly am not suggesting that Angela’s essay claims that. But I do believe that I’m not an outlier, Black, wanting to parent and choosing to parent a Black child.
So, I would’ve wanted to adopt you, Angela. I think you’re pretty darn awesome and that your family did an amazing job raising you. Love your blog, by the way.