Considerations of race, part ii

This New York Times article (provided by gabriela63; quotes Jae Ran Kim) cites two examples of how the MEPA has been used to work against the interests of children:

In 2003, social workers in Ohio were accused of discriminating against a white couple by requiring them to prepare a plan to address the child’s cultural needs and to evaluate the racial demographics of their neighborhood. The state paid $1.8 million in fines.

In 2005, a social service agency in South Carolina was fined $107,000 after workers used a database to match children to prospective adoptive parents, which the federal government said overemphasized race. These two examples have led litigation-jittery agencies to ignore race completely in placements, the report said.

Why can’t somebody sue on behalf of the child, whose needs are obviously taking second place to that of white prospective adoptive parents? Why isn’t a child’s cultural and racial heritage considered important enough to play a critical part in the selection of his or her parents?

This article attempts to provide some answers:

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who directs the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School, believes the concept of striving for color blindness is sound. She foresees problems if race once again becomes a key determinant.

“Giving social workers the chance to do that produced very rigid race matching,” she said, referring to pre-1994 policies. “That’s one of the reasons to say race can’t be used at all — there’s no other way to be sure it doesn’t become the overwhelming factor.”

Translation: She foresees problems for white people.

If you use race as a consideration in judging two prospective sets of adoptive parents, one white, one black, the black family is going to win. And that is an “overwhelming factor”–better that race not be considered “at all.” Because taking race out of the equation advantages the white family.

Current policy allows standardized pre-adoption training, but wisely prohibits specific screening for parents seeking to adopt transracially, Bartholet said.

“What cannot be done is have a pass/fail test that turns on whether you give the politically correct answers,” she said. “If social workers are allowed to use training to determine who can adopt, there’s lots of experience showing they abuse that power.”

Translation: “Politically correct” is just an empty phrase used to denigrate concerns. And while nobody has suggested that there is a “pass/fail” test, phrasing it in this manner makes it all seem horribly unfair, doesn’t it? Like some poor white family simply couldn’t come up with the correct phrases that would please people, right? A matter of linguistics and not of preparation.

Additionally, wouldn’t it be terrible if people’s training was used as a consideration of their readiness to parent a child? Because black kids should be dispensed freely to anybody who wants one. Nobody is worrying about the “abuse” of “power” over the kids, the use of privilege to circumvent common-sense adoption preparation. Because abuse of power is typically the most heinous when it is directed at white people.

She also questioned whether attempts to boost minority recruitment would succeed.

“Black people are significantly poorer than white people and less likely to be in a position to come forward,” Bartholet said. “Recruitment efforts bump up against that fact.”

Well. That just says it all. Black people are poor and aren’t going to adopt, so why even bother to try to recruit them? And of course, institutional racism might “bump up” against recruitment efforts as well.

So basically, we have this “adoption expert” suggesting that barriers for white families to adopt black kids should be removed. However, no attempts should be made to remove barriers for black families. That would make those black parents compete with the white parents, and that wouldn’t be fair. So let’s not consider race at all, and while we’re at it, let’s give some white babies to some black families.

Additionally, if white parents are too stupid to even be able to give the “politically correct” answers when race is discussed with their social workers, should they really be allowed to parent children adopted transracially?

The reality is that white people have never really been clamoring to adopt black children. But they resent being told that they can’t, or implications that they might be lesser parents when compared to black people. Because it never is all about the children.

3 thoughts on “Considerations of race, part ii

  1. Dorothy Roberts, the black Yale law professor, address Elizabeth Ignorance Bartholett in Shattered Bonds. Bartholett believes its harmful for black foster kids to be raised in the black community, that black kids are better served growing up in white homes because it helps them to know white people more intimately, and that it’s bad for black people to live in communities without a white presence. She also feels that black people don’t do any better of a job raising black kids and instilling self esteem in them than white people do. Her views are truly scary. Bartholett believes that once a black child has been removed from the home, it’s dangerous for her to be placed within kinship foster care or adoption or even within the community. By attributing the sins of individuals to larger communities, she makes everyone in the community guilty. But imagine her saying someone from an abusive white suburban home can’t be placed within that community. Her quote in this article is toned down. She truly reminds me of the masterminds of the aboriginal lost generation.

    As Roberts points out, black biological parents’ rights are unfairly terminated freeing kids up for white parents who don’t want them. Black older children are most likely to be adopted by single black women. The main place there’s black/white competition for black kids is with babies. Programs that recruit black families such as “One Church One Child” founded by a black Catholic priest/Civil Rights activist to promote black adoption of black foster kids has been very successful. Also, black adoption agencies that recruit black families are wildly successful as well.

  2. Elizabeth I. Bartholett sounds like a David Duke fan, and to think
    she even has a voice in determining adoption and foster care
    practices is ridiculous.

  3. This npr article “White Parents, Black Kids, Tough Love” comments on race consideration in adoption

    White folks, no matter how well-meaning or open-minded, have no true idea what it’s like to be black in America. That’s not a slam against white people or an accusation of latent bigotry. But the fact is that we all live in an Anglo-dominated society. From the moment we switch on the morning happy-chat shows until we fade to the stale jokes of the late-nite laughers, our news, our information, our assessments, are delivered through the filter of Anglo perspective. Be it liberal or conservative, it’s still monochromatic. People of color grow up steeped in “white” culture. The reverse is not true. And, no, listening to hip-hop on the way to work does not count as immersion. Most whites will never know, experience or fully understand the myriad of preconceptions or gentle indignities that people of color have to deal with near daily. And that’s prior to getting hit with full-on bigotry. Being of color in America by no means amounts to a constant barrage of negativity. However, unlike being white, being of color means one’s race is a constant issue. How to handle it is an experience that is best learned practically, passed from a parent who’s lived it to a child who’s living it.

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