LOVING HOME OR IDENTITY CRISIS?

Sandra Bullock’s adoption of her black son, Louis, spiked a controversy about a topic that’s been going on for a long time.  Should people be able to adopt children of a different race?  Skeptics argue that this is harmful to children who are likely to grow up without the ability to identify with their own race.  The grooming of hair is a big issue for most African-American women, and many argue that a white woman will not be up to the task of maintaining their black daughter’s hair.

There doesn’t seem to be as much of an outcry when it comes to white couples adopting Asian children, but perhaps that’s because Black/White relations in general have often been strained in this country, whereas that has not been the case with the Asian population.

Currently there is an ongoing court battle between a Native American father and a white couple in Virgina.  The white couple raised the beautiful little girl in question for the first two years of her life.  According to the birth father, his pregnant girlfriend  withheld the fact that she planned to place the baby up for adoption, so he never had the option of choosing to raise the child himself.  Several years ago the court’s decision to place the child with the white family was overturned, and the birth father and his new wife have been raising the little girl who is now four-years-old ever since.  The family in Virgina is still vigorously pursuing the return of the child, and the Navajo Nation is lending its support to make sure father and daughter remain together.  No easy answers here, as I’m sure both sets of parents love the little girl, but there are certainly strong opinions on both sides, especially since the child looks like she is thriving in her Oklahoma home with her dad and stepmother.

My friend, Tabitha, is experiencing another kind of adoption scenario.  She is an African-American woman fostering a white child, whom she is in the process of adopting.  She already has a biological black daughter, and she wanted a sibling for Maya as well as the opportunity to parent again.  Tabitha specifically requested a black, male infant.  She is an administrator in a large school district in New York City and painfully aware of the statisitcs when it comes to black males in this country, which indicate they are at higher risk for incarceration, early death, gang affiliation and an inferior education.  Tabitha vowed to be part of the solution and was cheered on by her circle of female friends…proactive African-American women.  When the first call came from the foster agency, it was for a black male infant, but Tabitha hesitated, and by the time she called the agency back, the child had been placed elsewhere.  The second call she received was totally unexpected….a newborn white female needed immediate placement.  Was Tabitha willing to accept her into her home?  Afraid to hesitate again, Tabitha impulsively agreed, and ten-month-old, Katelyn, has been with her ever since.  She has been embraced and accepted  by Tabitha’s large clan of extended family and is adored by her nine-year-old son and the family’s two pet dogs who hover over her protectively and run to fetch Tabitha when she cries.

However, not everyone has been as accepting or sees this transracial family as a positive thing.  Although her real friends have come around, Tabitha was initially grilled about taking in a white, female child who would have so many more opportunities than a black, male child.  Katelyn would find many families that were willing to adopt her, but a black, male child might not be so fortunate.  Tabitha was made to feel guilty and like a sell-out for the choice she made.  She has also heard comments like “Are you the babysitter?” and “Why do your two children look so different from each other?”  I imagine there will be even more comments and stares when Katelyn learns to say “mama” and again when she enters school.

A certain portion of the population seems to feel that being politically correct takes precedence over every child being placed in a loving, stable, family environment.  These are some thought-provoking questions, with many possible answers.  I would love to know what you think.

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