Census studies indicate that blacks adopt at about the same rate as whites, but to successfully place all the black children available for adoption, experts estimate blacks would need to adopt children at three times the rate of white families.
A cultural/racial bias against adoption is blamed as one reason why black birthmothers often choose not to place babies for adoption and other blacks choose not to adopt, but the reasons are much more complex than this. For example, some blacks have alleged that adoption agencies are dominated by whites who unreasonably impose the same criteria on black families as they do on white prospective parents.
Whites have also adopted some of the available black children, and TRANSRACIAL ADOPTION has been one of the most hotly debated topics of the past 20 years. Those who disapprove of whites adopting blacks, notably the National Association of Black Social Workers, believe that whites cannot truly understand blacks, that children will be deprived of their heritage and that their development will be harmed. They also worry that black children will feel inferior, particularly if raised in a predominantly white neighborhood.
Supporters of transracial adoption when suitable black adoptive families cannot be identified, such as the National Council For Adoption, cite longitudinal studies, especially by researchers Rita Simon and Howard Altstein, that indicate black children raised by whites are generally well-adjusted. In addition, they state that permanence is the real issue and that loving, appropriate white parents are better than continuous foster care or other less suitable arrangements.
Research has revealed that black adoptive parents adopt for essentially the same reasons stated by Caucasian adoptive families.
A study by Gwendolyn Prater and Lula T. King discussed the motivations of black adoptive parents. According to their article, the primary reasons given for adopting by the 12 families who participated in the study were "unable to have children biologically," the desire to "share their love with a child" and a desire to "give a child without a home, a home and a family." Three couples wanted to adopt a girl because they already had boys.
All the couples but one said they were glad they had adopted a child. One couple had adopted a five-year-old child, and Prater and King reported one of the adoptive parents stated, "I felt good when he told us he didn't ever want to leave me, his daddy, his daddy, or brother."
The researchers concluded that black adoptive parents would make a valuable resource in recruiting other black adoptive parents. They warned, however, that families were reticent about discussing adoption with strangers, and thus adoption workers should be sure to maintain confidentiality unless the parents indicated their willingness to talk about adoption with prospective parents. (See also BLACK ADOPTIVE PARENT RECRUITMENT PROGRAMS; NATIONAL COALITION TO END RACISM IN AMERICA'S CHILD CARE SYSTEM.)
Gwendolyn Prater and Lula T. King, "Experiences of Black Families as Adoptive Parents," Social Work 33 (November-December 1988): 543-545.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Mostly I can Do More Things Than I Can't (Chelsea, Mich.: National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption, 1987).
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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