I was adopted when I was 4 months old by the strongest African-American woman I know, my mother. I have a sister who is also Black and adopted. This is my family, but the experience of Black adopted children is varying.
Adoption within the Black community is something that does not occur as much as it should, and too many Black children end up being placed in foster care, never having the chance to have a family.
While celebrities are adopting children from Africa and other international locations, making that option look very popular and desirable, it seems difficult to find Black families adopting Black children. According to the most recent survey conducted in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are half a million children from the United States in foster care, 40 percent of whom are Black.
The statistics facing Black children in foster care are daunting. Not only do Black children make up most of the population in foster care, but if they are not adopted when they are babies or toddlers, they usually end up staying in the system until they age out.
My mother, Tina M. Johnson, is a single Black woman who adopted my sister when she was 2 months old and I when I was 4 months old.
“Black families tend to adopt within their own family, so you have relatives taking care of their cousins or grandchildren,” Johnson said. “There is a myth out there that has people believing that in order to adopt, you have to have money. This isn’t the case at all. There needs to be more recruitment for Black parents. People need to advocate.”
Lattifah Walker, 21, of Brooklyn, experienced both foster care and kinship adoption. Walker was in kinship by her two aunts from the age of 7 to 12, and then in foster care until she aged out. Walker was in foster care with a Black mother who she says showed her much love and compassion, and to this day they are as close as a mother is to her child. “Black people need to be there more for their children,” Walker said.
The survey also showed that Caucasians and Hispanics are consistently preferred to African-Americans. It showed that a non-African-American baby will attract the interest of an adoptive parent at least seven times more than an African-American baby. Most of the people who are adopting are white. This is why more Black people need to get involved to take care of these children.
I have nothing against a Caucasian person adopting a Black baby. However, it is their responsibility to make an effort and expose the children to their culture, especially since the African-American culture is so rich. If they don’t do this, the child will grow up with identity problems.
Deborah Kutenplon, a married Caucasian woman, adopted a biracial child and two children from Africa. “The important thing is that children are getting homes. It shouldn’t matter what race the child is, as long as they are being taken in,” Kutenplon said.
Organizations are offering adoption subsidies to families with special needs. This is available in many states, and race is considered to be a special need because many children of color need to be adopted. Often times these children qualify for subsidies, including a monthly allowance that covers health care.
“When I adopted, the organization provided me with these subsidies. I was able to go to counseling groups with other African-American parents who adopted,” Johnson said. “The support you get is really great.”