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Trans Racial Adoption Essay

In a well-publicized 1989 case, a black boy named Reecie West was raised from the age of two months by Dale and Jan May, a white foster couple in Cincinnati, Ohio. When Reecie was freed for adoption, the Mays applied to adopt him. However, the social service department decided to search the country for a black family instead. At the last moment, the Mays’ application was denied.

The boy, age two and a half, was placed with a black couple in another state. Eight weeks later the boy was dead, the victim of what one report called “horrific physical abuse” at the hands of his new adoptive parents. With this horrific revelation, there shall be a critical look at trans-racial adoption and how it has affected thousands of children worldwide. For the purpose of this essay however, I shall argue in support of trans-racial adoption.

For the purpose of this essay however, adoption is defined as a process by which children are brought together with adults who are not their biological parents to form a family. Practiced informally throughout human history, adoption in the United States has evolved into a formalized legal procedure; its primary statutory purpose is to protect the welfare of children in cases where the birth parents are gone or unable to care for their offspring. Through adoption, the legal ties to a child’s birth parents are severed. Adoptees (adopted persons) are seen in the eyes of the law as permanent members of the adoptive family with all the legal rights and privileges of biological children.

In trans-racial adoptions however, children are placed with an adoptive family of another race. These adoptions may be through public and private agencies or be independent, but most trans-racial adoptions take place through the public child welfare system. In United States, The civil rights movement of the 1960s led to an increase in trans-racial adoptions involving black children and white parents. In a statistical survey conducted in 1998, an estimated 15 percent of the 36,000 adoptions of foster children were trans-racial or trans-cultural adoptions.

It quite unfortunate that despite the various merits of trans-racial adoptions there has been hot debates on its prohibition. Ironically, however, polls show that a large majority of both black and white Americans support trans-racial adoptions. A 1991 survey of 975 adults conducted by CBS, for instance, found that 70 percent of whites favored them, along with 71 percent of blacks.

Flowing form the above, a widespread public support in United States helped persuade Congress in 1994 to pass the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which prohibits using race, culture, or ethnic identity to block or delay trans-racial foster-care placements and adoptions. In fact, the federal act was intended to shorten the length of time children spend in foster homes and orphanages by facilitating trans-racial adoptions.

It is rather sad that despite the enactment of this law, today, children wait an average of two-and-a-half years to be adopted. Thousands of them can still be found in foster homes across the States. Therefore, there is no continuing need of using race as a criterion for adopting a parentless child, especially if it would leave the child without a family. Love, after all, is color-blind.

Again, the case for interracial adoption has been strengthened in recent years, too, by studies of black children who were adopted by white families and have reached adulthood now. Not every study has reached exactly the same conclusion, but nearly all agree that trans-racially adopted children become happy and content adults. According to one study, about half of minority children adopted by whites say that race is an unimportant factor in their lives.

The fact remains that trans-racial adoption is the best option because it will respond to the overrepresentation of minority children in the child welfare system. Also, trans-racial adoption will help in reducing the number of parentless children at various foster homes in and outside the Unites States. Without trans-racial adoption, activists argue, too many black children will never be placed with a family. “Leaving African American kids in foster care rather than allowing them to be adopted by loving parents,” says one observer “inflicts very serious harm on children.”

The former American first lady and the present Presidential aspirant, Senator Hillary Clinton, once agree with trans-racial adoption in a newspaper column. “Skin color,” she writes, should not “outweigh the more important gift of love that adoptive parents want to offer.”

In conclusion, with all the views expressed above about trans-racial adoption, it can then be safely concluded that it is the best option for children who needs to belong to a loving and caring family. Children need to be loved and cared for and prohibition of trans-racial adoption will not in anyway help matters. God creates and loves all, so we should reciprocate this agape love by making sure that parentless children do not live a substantial portion of their lives in foster homes.

Brodzinsky, D. M., and M. D. Schechter, Eds. The Psychology of Adoption. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
L. An Open Adoption. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1990.
Lancaster, K. Keys to Adopting a Child. Hauppauge, NY: Barren’s Educational Series, 1994.
Melina, L. R. Making Sense of Adoption. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. National Committee for Adoption (NCFA). 1989 Adoption Washington, DC: National Committee for Adoption, 1989.
Tatara, T. Characteristics of Children in Substitute and Adoptive Care: A Statistical Summary of the VCIS National Child Welfare Base. Washington, DC: American Public Welfare Association, 1992.

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