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Pet Sins November 2005

Double standards in interracial adoption - whites who adopt interracially dictate that Asians should adopt intra-racially

I read the article White Reactions to Interracial Unions Between People of Color, which describes how some whites have a double standard towards interracial dating, i.e. they are happy to see white-other couples but are less than happy to see interracial couples in which neither party is white. And judging by other readers' responses to the preceding article, it seems that individual people of color of various races have also noticed this mode of thinking among whites they encountered.

I would like to add that the idea of "white+other is right", "non-white+other-non-white is wrong" is not limited to interracial dating/marriage. For example, I've come across stories of qualified black couples whose attempts to adopt Asian children internationally were sabotaged by US adoption workers. The same workers seem happy enough to help white couples fulfil their Asian adoption dreams.

Attitudes don't seem to be better towards domestic adoptions potentially involving non-whites of different races. I have an Asian friend who was planning to adopt a US child domestically. Social workers have taken it upon themselves to tell him, without him asking, that the chances of an Asian American adopting an Asian baby domestically is quite slim, as most domestic children available for adoption are not Asian. It seems they automatically assume that Asians should/must adopt Asians, but they don't apply the same assumptions to white adoptive parents, who are often praised in the white liberal circle for being "open-minded" and "brave" when they adopt interracially. My friend does not mind adopting a non-Asian, however. He is of the opinion there is no need to go to another country to get a child when there are children who need homes here.

While my friend was learning about the process, he conversed with individual adoptive parents to learn from their experiences. One of these was a white American woman who adopted from China. When the woman heard that my friend was hoping to adopt domestically, she tried, a number of times, to talk him into changing his mind about adopting a US child and adopt from China instead. My friend had nothing against other people adopting from China, but didn't say anything since he did not feel he needed to explain to her his reasons for wanting to adopt domestically. He told me, at first he thought that perhaps she had a soft spot for China, and a special interest in the plight of its orphans, and was therefore advocating for them by trying to 'recruit' him.

During a subsequent conversation, the topic came up again, and the woman once again tried to interest my friend in adopting from China. My friend was getting tired of the subject - he wanted to hear about her experience as a single adoptive parent, not about her experience adopting from China specifically. To end this direction of conversation, he said there were some China government policies towards adoption that he didn't like. The woman quickly changed her tactic, s suggesting to him other Asian countries that he might be interested in adopting from.

At that point he began to wonder if what really motivated her to so enthusiastically promote Asia adoptions to him was her love of Asian children, (which begs the question, do US children deserve less love?) or that she simply felt it wasn't right for an Asian to adopt a non-Asian, and therefore had to set things right by 'matching' him with a child of the appropriate race. The latter seems quite likely to me, Of course, not one word was said about 'race' in her conversations with my friend; the racial biases of the white liberals are so much harder to address than the prejudices of open racists, since they remain hidden.

The irony is, this woman herself adopted a Chinese child interracially, and is apparently so proud of having a 'multicultural family', judging from what my friend says. She often encourages other white parents to adopt from China. But she is not as encouraging of Asians who adopt non-Asians. She seems sold on the idea that Asians (and most likely, other people of color) have to adopt their own kind but whites can adopt anyone of any race. And I don't think she is the only one who thinks like that. I've heard anecdotes about black couples who are open to fostering or adopting children of any race, but white social workers would rather place no children with them than a non-black child. Of course, the same standard does not apply to white families, who are given children of color. State and private agencies talk a lot about 'cultural matching' for parents and children and 'cultural awareness training' for white parents who receive children of color into their homes. Nothing wrong with that, but they have never seemed to think that 'cultural awareness training', which they consider adequate preparation for white parents adopting/fostering children of color, would be just as adequate for people of color adopting/fostering white children, or non-white children of a different race. Of course, there are exceptions, and I've heard of 1 or 2 black families who adopted white children or Native American chlidren.


Comment from 'P.J.'
The following excerpt from the NABSW article The Case Against Transracial Adoption may shed some light on the situation N.M. described:
...the child welfare system ... has systematically separated Black children from their birth families. Child welfare workers have historically undertaken little effort to rehabilitate African-American parents, to work with extended families, or to reunite children in foster care with their families. Further, Black families and other families of color who tried to adopt waiting children were often met with discrimination or discouragement... It should be noted that 44% of the children available for adoption nationwide are White (mostly school-age and/or have special needs). However, there is little discussion concerning these children and their right to a permanent home. There is no suggestion from proponents of transracial adoptions that White children who are "languishing in the system" be adopted by African-Americans or other people of color. African-American families who have tried to adopt White children have been blocked by child caring agencies and the courts most of the time. Accordingly, in practice, transracial adoptions are a "one-way street." The question arises whether the thrust for increasing transracial adoptions is truly concerned with the "best interests of Black children" or "the right of [W]hite people to parent whichever child they choose?"