Mixed-race adoption: Have we gone too far?

August 21, 2013 6 Comments
mixed-race adoption

Image credit: Dade Freeman | Flickr

I caught a glimpse of The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 yesterday morning, and they were talking about mixed-race adoption following the suicide of a mixed-race teenager who was adopted by a white family. A report into his tragic death, as reported by The Times*, cites the council as ‘failing to help him to deal with his mixed-race background.’

This stirred a few emotions in me I have to admit.

Adoption, like many things, is a political minefield. Throw race into the mix, and you have a rumbling volcano of political topics. Unfortunately, the so-called experts who produce such reports, use one case, and make that the rule rather than the exception.

The Government, try as they might, desperately want to do right by the young and vulnerable members of our society, but get blindsided by authority figures because of one isolated case.

Mixed-race adoption, then what?

My question to you is this.

If it is unreasonable to place a black or mixed-race child with a white family, where does it stop? If we have gone too far by taking race out of an already complicated equation, what impact does that have on other minorities?

Do the same people who are wary of race think that placing a child with; say a gay couple, is detrimental to the child’s future?

Where do we draw the line? At what point do we say:

“Yeah okay, you are white enough to join this family.”

I can just see the pompous clots now, holding up their Pantone reference guides against some poor child, who is in desperate need for stability, rather than a clone-like matching family.

How has it become about race, religion, sexual preference or any other political hot potato anyway? Why, more importantly, is it not about love, security and stability?

I feel for the family of this teenager, and if he was struggling with his identity, then it is certainly needs to be addressed, but it shouldn’t be publicised.

You cannot sit there and tell me that a child should be deprived of a loving, caring, and stable home because of the colour of their skin. This is a monumental step backwards for our society. Maybe we should look at after care, and post adoption support, but to challenge mixed-race adoption in this manner is antiquated to Victorian standards.

A friend of mine told me a story today about her five-year old daughter who desperately struggled to describe her friend. She described her hair, her facial features, and her clothes. Not once did she mention she was black.

This fleeting vision of a world where colour of skin is an obsolete, non-existent facet of someone’s physical description briefly warmed my heart. Sadly, until my friend’s daughter is the authority figure on adoption, I fear mixed-race adoption will continue to be a contentious issue.

Matching is a vital part of adoption, but it is exactly that, a part. We cannot afford to make it bigger than adoption itself, otherwise where will we be? Adoption figures will plummet, children in care will skyrocket, the tax payer will be clobbered, and a generation ruined.

Come on guys, think on.

Click here to view the full episode of The Wright Stuff online

*I have not read the related Times article in full. The Times online is a subscription only service. To subscribe and read the full story, please click here.

If you have any views on this report, or indeed mixed-race adoption, please leave a comment below. I am always grateful for feedback and further opinion.

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About the Author:

Andrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.

Comments (6)

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  1. Kendra Cyrus says:

    A very thought-provoking matter indeed, Andrew. There are many adoptive parents out there doing a wonderful job of introducing the adoptee child’s culture and raising them to be a well-adjusted adult. The statement that failure to do so resulted in the death of one child seems to somehow negate all that effort and love. At least that’s how it seems to me.

  2. Stacy says:

    I just literally stumbled across this and want to thank you as I couldn’t have put it better myself!
    I am white British and adopted my son from Ethiopia. I’m currently attempting to get citizenship for him which is a major struggle and am constantly jumping the most ridiculous hurdles.
    Your article was very reassuring, if only everyone saw it as we do!

  3. Al Coates says:

    As a white adopter with six adopted children, three of whom are of mixed ethnicity this is an issue that I have pondered and, at times, struggled with. For one of my daughters, with darker skin tone, her feelings of difference and not being the same as her family is evident every time we leave the house. For children who share the ethnicity of their adoptive parents they melt into the crowd and no questions are asked. For our family, questions are asked, heads turn and consequently it is an issue we have to address. In a school of 450 children she is one of 6 non white children and the only one of the same ethnic mix. The issue of her difference is starkly present as I stand waiting for her in the school yard at home time.

    You’re right to deny children a caring and loving family on grounds of colour is shameful, but to not give sufficient weight and consideration to the issue is naive and potentially harmful. Are the potential adopters equipped, educated and able to help a child navigate issues of identity, discrimination and racism? Especially as they may never have experienced them themselves.

    The history of this issue is fascinating and contentious, with the Association of Black Social Workers (USA) describing inter racial adoption as a “racial genicide”; government minsters claiming it is not significant and some inner city councils banning the practice as a matter of course.
    With non white children over represented in the care system and white adopters over represented then this is an issue that will not go away. The reality is that each child and prospective adopter is unique and as such needs to be considered case by case. An ethnically matched long term foster placement may be better for some children than a mixed adoptive placement. Difficult decisions that should be considered on merit rather than an ideological basis.
    Reflecting on my own story we may not be a perfect fit but given the circumstances we are the best fit possible and that may just be the best anyone can do.

    • Hi
      Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I have been involved in a lot of discussions about this since I posted this article, and there are some very good arguments for denying children a permanent home IF it would be detrimental to theirl livlihood.

      My original question was about us as a society taking aspects of race to delicately which would result in children missing out, but there are so many facets to this issue it will continue to be discussed for years to come.

      Thanks again for your reply, very thought provoking.
      Andrew McDougall recently posted..How to Use YouTube to Benefit your Child’s EducationMy Profile

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