NPR logo White Parents, Black Kids, Tough Love

White Parents, Black Kids, Tough Love

This week comes word that some child welfare groups are calling for changes in federal transracial adoption laws, saying the so-called colorblind adoption system mandated in the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 can do more harm than good to black kids adopted from foster care by white parents. A study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found that while "transracial adoption in itself does not produce psychological or social maladjustment problems in children," these children and their families face "a range of challenges, and the manner in which parents handle them facilitates or hinders children's development."

Among the things the groups want to change is a provision that bars prospective white parents from undergoing any race-oriented training that's different from what any other prospective parent would receive.

Perhaps the single most important thing for a child is to be with a loving, supportive family. And all things being equal, any child of any race should be placed with any qualified parents without restriction or special conditions.

But all things are not always equal.

I would never advocate prohibiting transracial adoptions. Black kids in foster care already have a significantly harder time finding homes than children of other races. But in the case of white parents/black children, the MEPA provision against race-oriented training's gotta go.

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. It is not an experience gained merely by watching the boxed set of Eyes on the Prize (though you should watch it anyway). Short of that, some actual training would be useful. Anyone who believes otherwise is just displaying arrogance.

I would think, at the very least, trained and qualified parents of black children could be established as mentors. This would also help the adoptive parents build a "go to" support group for when their children do have questions and issues.

No doubt the policy barring the training was born of some kind of political correctness. But like most political correctness, it's Pollyanish.

Parents who engage in transracial adoptions are clearly committed, brave and, above all, loving. They should be fully prepared as well.



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I'm not clear on why special training must be acquired because of race. What if the kid is deaf or gay? Are hearing parents going to be required to take a class? Straight parents required to take a class on what it is like to be gay in America? Where does it end? Here is where it ends, any good parent can raise a kid that's in a "minority."

Sent by Lauren | 4:26 PM | 5-30-2008

Yeah! Absolutely! Just look at the EVIDENCE! Take a look at, well, Barack Obama! His WHITE mom and grandparents raised him . . . WITHOUT ANY TRAINING!!! So Barack only made it through, well, Harvard Law School, wrote a best-selling book, and, um, wait, never mind . . . .

Sent by Jay Belford | 11:53 PM | 5-30-2008

These are excellent points. In Henn. Cty. people go through adoption training who are White and are adopting Black children. They receive a lot of training about white structural racism, which is needed. Adopting a child of color will put a white parent in a new world, one in which they themselves will learn firsthand about racism, and they need all the tools available to help their new child succeed. To think otherwise is to be in denial. This is not a "post racial" nation, this is still a nation divided by race, and education will help us overcome.

Sent by Kristina Gronquist | 12:44 AM | 5-31-2008

Basically, Ridley's calling for the prohibition of "transracial adoption." He denies this, as most black supremacists do, yet he condemns the possibility of a "white folk" to raise a "black" child. "White folks" need surrogate "black" people to define them. Yet by his own criteria, his judgment of "white folks" ability is flawed, because he will never "understand" what it is like to be "white" because he is not "white;" merely an interloper who watches Regis and Kelly and Leno and believes that they represent "white" culture.

A child needs a constant. Someone to give a damn about him/her. Someone who listens and cares and provides opportunity. All else is pretense and utter bovine excrement.

I am glad that anyone would contribute their love and sacrifice to furthering humanity by not allowing perceived racial differences to inhibit their participation in the furthering of humanity.

Sent by pop | 6:51 AM | 5-31-2008

Agreed! Shouldn't the same apply to parents who adopt children of other races from other countries? I have witnessed shocking insensitivity from caring,well-intentioned, white adopting parents toward the specific challenges and experiences of their Asian and Latin-American children. Colorblind adoption policies are wonderful, but ignoring the realities that minority children may face in our not-so-colorblind society helps no one.

Sent by Hilary | 11:46 AM | 5-31-2008

From hearing other discussions about the issue from other white adopting parents , the majority do not profess that they know what it is to be black. The best they can do is to be open to the inevitable questions that will come up, and expose their kids as much as they can to Afro-American life (the mentoring/support group is a good idea). I have a question if anybody has an answer. What about the adoption of all the Asian kids? Is this issue coming up when they get adopted?

Sent by Kirk Van Irvin | 10:11 PM | 5-31-2008

If blacks are going to have a hissy fit about their orphaned children living with the hateful conservative white devils and having to live in misery of a white community and unable to experience and enjoy the hell of living in a 'project' or being brought up in poverty then its time to stop the adoption of black kids by white people. Black activists and black racists and black liberals are just going to use the issue for political gain and propaganda. Stop the practice now. Let the blacks adopt thier own black children so that they will have the wonderful experience of living in squalor. Better yet why dont the blacks who object to such a miserable way of life for thier rejected children adopt those children themselves. The black racists just will never be satisfied with anything that others do for them. They just want to piss and moan and complain of the horrible and miserable lives they live here in amerika. It seems that the author feels put out that a white person will never 'know' the experiences of the undertrodden black. It may come as a suprise to the author that they dont want to know that life and its underpinnings. Thats why they adopt the children. Yet the racists want to stop the chance for a black child to have an opportunity in life. They would deny their orphans the chance for a better life in order to fill thier basic hate filled ambitions. If being raised in a black environment, away from the white infidels is such an overpowering desire, maybe he should take a year or two and move back to the 'motherland' and see how wonderful things are over there in the dark continent. Maybe he would have a wee bit of appreciation for the greatest nation on earth and try to make an effort to intergrate himself into the family of humans instead of his little niche of blackness and self centered hatred of anything 'not' black enough for him. This man needs to get right with God and work to make the lives of those underpriveleged kids better.

Sent by Doc Cardigan | 5:11 PM | 6-1-2008

NO, what you are talking about is a social class issue, because EVERY dark completion person isn't proletariat, and EVERY pale person isn't an aristocrat. People come from ALL walks of life. Besides that, this sounds VERY stereotyped. Training people to think stereotypically is absurd. All you're doing is strengthening discrimination by defining the lines between people of different races, when you should be trying to erase these lines so that every race can integrate and be accepted.

Sent by Priscilla V. Quinones | 7:10 PM | 6-1-2008

Barack Obama was raised by a white mom and grandparents who had ZERO training for raising a "black" kid. And yet he managed to go to Harvard Law School, the US Senate, and, well, I think you can guess the punch-line.

Sent by Jay in Austin | 9:23 PM | 6-1-2008

This was very interesting - thank you for writing it! As Eric Jones in PA said, "White or black doesn't matter," "What counts is whether the parents are ready to take responsibility." Yet I also disagree with the ban on white foster parents from participating in race-oriented training.

Sent by Ray in DC | 12:52 PM | 6-2-2008

If for no other reason, white adoptive parents must receive training on how to manage African-American hair. All African-American hair is not created equal.

Sent by Yolanda | 1:04 PM | 6-2-2008

I am in agreement with the author's opinion that parents pursuing a trans-racial adoption should obtain a mentor for dealing with race issues. However, I find this article to be biased and one-sided. For example, the comment, "White folks, no matter how well-meaning or open-minded, have no true idea what it's like to be black in America..." True, maybe a white person cannot completely understand what it's like to be black, but aren't most people capable of compassion for people who are oppressed? Does the author believe that no white person has ever been discriminated against? Maybe he should try being a woman in corporate America. Trust me, discrimination does not only occur within the African-American community.
As a white parent of two black children, I will admit that there are times when the challenges are overwhelming; even simple things like braiding hair for two solid hours can break a woman down. But my goal is not to raise my children to live in a white or black society. I have a higher goal which transcends race, and that is to teach my children to treat others with dignity, respect, and kindness, regardless of race. We must stop believing that we must live in a white or black society. I believe we can all transcend race someday and live in a society which is color-blind. This may sound "Pollyannish" to the author, but I have personally experienced a huge shift in cultural racism between growing up as a white person in Memphis 20 years ago to what I experience today as a white woman raising two black children. I do believe we can all transcend racism, with the right attitude and behaviors.

Sent by Carla Anderson | 1:54 PM | 6-2-2008

My wife is Hispanic, I am white and we both have a biological son. We want to adopt a black child. Why are you still holding on to black and white arguments. It's people like you who are keeping race an issue in America. Oddly enough. I know you are fighting for equality, but until you start thinking of your race as human beings rather than "blacks" then the issue of inequality will never die. I can't wait for the day when i can say, "Yes, my wife is human, I am human, we have a biological human son, and we want to adopt a human." Why does the color of someone's skin have to matter so much. I don't want race training when I adopt because I don't want to keep the argument of race alive. I will teach my future adopted son or daughter that they are human just like everyone else and the people that are trying to divide skin color into classes are the people that they must rise above with maturity and respect.

Sent by Benjamin Lotzgesell | 3:59 PM | 6-2-2008

I am appalled at the comments by Doc Cardigan. Even black people don't say that we all live in squalor and in the projects. For the people who speak about Barack Obama. He wasn't ONLY raised by white people, he was raised by both races and there is a huge difference. This article is about people who will be raised by ONLY white people. Yes, if we lived in a perfect world having parents who truly loved and cared about you would make every child well adjusted. But this is not the case. Even children who come from loving homes by parent of the same race have a variety of problems. But I must say that there are a large number of whites in America who say some of the most ignorant things to the black people who live in America. Just read the article in today's Washington Post about blacks who live in Utah. Its like being overseas!! I digress. The writer is correct, America is an Anglo society. Every race in America knows more about the white race than any other race. Whites don't know much about how it is to be another race. I agree with training for all people of color including Asians, Latinos and Arabs. Even I as a black woman would not know what it is like to raise an Asian, Latino or Arab child in America. I am sure they would have to deal with the same ignorance that blacks do but at a different level because each one of those groups are seen differently. This is a fact. People keep bringing up Barak Obama, not one person stated what he said in his speech on race about how his white grand-mother made disparaging comments about black men. A white parent needs to know what to tell a child when they come home from school and say that someone called them a disparaging comment, or when they unjustly get stopped by the cops for doing nothing, or when they get followed walking around department stores because they think your going to steal. This happens to professional black men and women, so what does the white parent tell the child? I can tell you that the white people I work with don't even know this type of things still happens in America. When the child doesn't get picked for some team or club in school solely for his color, will the white parent know that? Or chalk it up to it being another reason. Everything doesn't happen because of racism, but take note that many things still happen in this country BECAUSE of racism. This is still a fact in our society.

Sent by Michele | 4:26 PM | 6-2-2008

Just as hearing parents adopting deaf children should reasonably be expected to learn about Deaf culture and use sign language, parents involved in transracial adoptions should be prompted to think about the challenges their children may face as related to their ethnicity. Being a good parent implies preparation for issues like 'Heritage Day' at school, awkward questions, genealogy, retention of native language, strangers' staring, or styling African-American hair, in addition to the usual challenges of adoption.

Mr. Ridley's entirely reasonable assertion is that race/culture-oriented training would be helpful to parents and children involved in transracial adoption--that it should not be banned.

Sent by NoonienSpock | 5:58 PM | 6-2-2008

I agree with the post by NoonienSpock. If I am reading Mr. Ridley correctly, he is merely saying that there needs to be no PROHIBITION on the types of training parents can receive regarding the kids (in this particular case- African American kids) they intend to adopt. I believe that it is absurd to prohibit a person or family from learning all they can about the kids they are enveloping into their family.

I wish it were possible that ALL PARENTS could receive parenting training...for their own biological kids or kids they intend to adopt- be they of the same ethnic or racial background or another.

Sent by Eric | 10:45 PM | 6-2-2008

My husband and I are Caucasian. We adopted two African American children when they were each six weeks old. They are now in their twenties. We also have several friends who have adopted interracially. I think all of us, including our children, would agree that it would have been very helpful to have some formalized education regarding Black culture and racism as part of the adoption process. When we initially adopted our children, I naively thought that exposing them to Black history, art, literature, music, friends etc. would be enough. It wasn't. Our children have still struggled with racial identity issues and racism. I feel that I have not prepared them adequately for dealing with these issues. I wish I would have been offered some professional help with this process. I would have gratefully accepted it and my children would be better off as a result of it.

Sent by Joan | 1:48 AM | 6-3-2008

Many of the comments I've read so far exemplify exactly why such training would be good. Why wouldn't a good parent want to understand the struggles her/his child would face & try to help that child find ways to deal with those hurdles?

I would not want a Black,Asian, Latino or White child linger in the foster care system if a transractial adoption is a possibility. But with children who have already lost so much (birth family, familial history, for ex), wouldn't their new families want them to feel secure, accepted and loved. It's naive to think that love conquers all.

Sent by KALW Country | 3:00 AM | 6-3-2008

As I read through all of the posts above, I reflected on my own experience. Many years ago, my wife (Anglo) and I (Hispanic) adopted a "hard-to-place" child - Dominican, physical disability, dark color skin and over the age of 6. He joined our two biological older children (one girl and one boy). We made a deliberate effort to live in neighborhoods where diversity was accepted; the same with selecting their schools, our church, etc. None-the-less, we witnessed the different treatment each of our children received due to gender, ethnicity, disability and skin color. More than 20 years have passed and each of our children has completed college and is living as an adult in the wider world. Each experienced discrimination, hurtful comments and related indignities due to race, gender, disability, and ethicity. I agree with the sentiments expressed that claim parental love and caring can conquer all (or at least many) of these problems. However, I do believe as well that some type of support and preparation can be very useful. Sometimes loving parents need help to know how to address issues that can negatively impact their children. I know I could have done better (and I think my wife and I did pretty well) if such assistance were available.

But let's not limit this to transracial, adoptive parents. Let's provide this to all parents so that all children learn how to respect and even love one another despite differences. It seems to me the reason we are having this discussion is because monoracial families may not be as effective as we might wish in inculcating the fundamental values of respecting and loving all of God's children.

Our nation's problems with race are not unique. They reflect our tendency as humans to act in discriminatory ways. Consider the following: Protestant vs. Catholic in Northern Ireland; Israeli vs. Palestinian in the Middle East; Sunni vs. Shiite in Iraq; need I go on? None of us should be surprised that this issue exists for us, as it does for so many others throughout the world.

In the USA, we discriminate most strongly, it seems, based on race (i.e., skin color). So, extra care seems appropriate and reasonable as we work to promote and support transracial adoptions.

I believe we need to address this parental awareness issue with training that is comprehensive and it seems perfectly reasonable in the USA to begin that with transracial adoptions.

Sent by Rick | 4:05 AM | 6-3-2008

Did Doc Cardigan actually read the article he's ranting against? Because obviously he has some underlying issues that have nothing to do with what Mr. Ridley wrote? Seriously; Dark continent? Amerika? Self centered hatered? Black liberals using it all for political gain?

And when were black children reduced to either living in squalor in the projects or being "rescued" by white adoptive parents? I grew up in the deep South with two loving parents. The only projects I came into contact with were at the science fair.

He must have linked to something the rest of us didn't.

But back to Mr. Ridley's post. Most people who've ever come near an Anthropology class know there are many, many ethnicities on this planet but only one race: Human.

Most intelligent people can also agree children of any ethnicity need loving, nuturing parents and a supportive home environment in which to grow. To assume parents can provide such an evironment without truly understanding the realities of the world we live in is simply naive.

Neither the country (no, not even "the greatest" one...) nor the world is colorblind. Think about it. Parents of the same ethnicity sometimes don't understand youth culture. Well-to-do society often doesn't understand middle-class or poor culture.

So why is it viewed as divisive to explain that perhaps one ethnic culture might not understand the unique experiences of another?

Think about it. The forced relocation of Native Americans, the persecution of Americans of German descent and the internment of Japanses Americans during World War II, the Civil Rights struggle of the 50's and 60's, the harrassment of Americans of Middle-Eastern descent since 2001; all this would seem to indicate there are some ethnic and cultural misunderstandings that need to be addressed.

And if we can start that process by educating and mentoring loving, adoptive parents, then so be it.

Sent by J. Martin | 10:36 AM | 6-3-2008

Any person brave enough to share their love outside of their own colorscheme does not need training. Rather, any individual having an internal problem with this needs a whole heap of training. Open up, allow love to flow, open up your own Cultural Immersion Program if you want to, but open it up to any person wanting to be there. If we do mandate any parent training it should be pre-parent training. Perhaps there would be less adoptions needed if we had to learn how to be parents, had to learn what being a parent consists of, before giving birth and then figuring it out...or not.

Sent by Brian | 11:16 AM | 6-3-2008

As a potential transracial adopter, I firmly believe that families should learn to deal with transracial issues. International adopters are already required to do so, under the Hague Convention, finally in force in the U.S. since April 1. As a parent, it is my job to raise and protect my child the best way I can. I don't find education threatening - it is my role to do right by them.

Sent by EJ | 1:42 PM | 6-3-2008

After reading all the comments, I see whites don't get it. As usual they beleive they know it all, but they just don't get it. What would they do if a 5 or 6 year old Black kid comes to them and says they want to be white. It will break your heart.

Sent by G. Starks | 1:48 PM | 6-3-2008

Oh yeah, AMEN. I don't think most realize this: 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.

Sent by G. Starks | 1:52 PM | 6-3-2008

As a mother to a bi-racial child, I had no special training and I still don't it's more on the job training. My son and I role with the punches, that's it. The more we see "separatism" (in whatever shape or form, such as "training" the more things will remain the same. You are preaching to the choir. People who adopt are ready, willing and able to comprehend the challenges ahead.
We need to start thinking that people are people PERIOD. It is backwards to think training needs to be instituted for rearing a child that may not look like its parents! Any person that can adopt will be aware and learn (just like everyone else) how to raise a child.

Sent by Lindsey | 2:07 PM | 6-3-2008

I heard this piece last week in the car and I was so enraged I almost crashed . I am a white man with a black child. I never get any grief/looks from "white people" It is the "people of color" that stare at me like I was the devil. Will MY son have questions...sure! Will he be loved...YES! Will he like hip-hop or soul food...let's let him decide.

Sent by A Klusman | 3:36 PM | 6-3-2008

I think Doc Cardigan hit the nail on the head...WORD!

Sent by A Klusman | 3:46 PM | 6-3-2008

Im kind of tired of the 'pseudo racism' that all white and (NOW) hispanic people have. We are not racist and we are tired of being told that we are. This accusation in itself leads us to racism. Now that hispanics have also been lumped with whites since we are taking over the world 'according to some'. After all, aren't now hispanics also treated better than blacks, oh wait, also, asian and indian and aboriginies, oh, I almost forgot mongolians and russians. It must be horrible being black, the absolutely worst race in the world, the one we have to take classes for to understand. Please, please give me a break. Stop teaching our children before it happens that people are going to be looking down at them.

Sent by VN | 10:17 AM | 6-4-2008

Dear G Starks, that must have broken your heart. I already had a boy telling me he wanted to be a girl. Maybe you should be figuring out what the parents in 'that home' are teaching their kids... maybe, if I were white, I would get a job. Only white people get all the breaks. If the shoe fits, wear it. In my case, my daughter gets more attention, now I've fixed it. Can you?

Sent by vn | 10:26 AM | 6-4-2008

Is black america so homogeonous that one curricula would cover it all? And isn't our common humanity more important than the variations known as "Race"?

Sent by Tim | 11:42 AM | 6-4-2008

My husband and I (white) adopted our son (black) when he was 6 months old. He is now 9. In preparation the adoption, our social worker discovered that my family is racially integrated, my husband and I both lived and worked in the inner city, I had worked in multiple countries in Africa, and none of that prepared us for raising an African-American son. Fortunately, we sought out and received not only formal training on transracial adoption, but also informal, ongoing mentoring from our African American friends. First point: all parents could benefit from training. Period. Love, stability, and attentive parenting are required but not sufficient to responding to all the issues associated with raising a child who will face different issues than the ones you did. Second point: I pray my son grows up in Barack Obama's post-racial America...but I'm not counting on it. My son is going to have experiences I could never imagine because he is black (and very dark-skinned black). He's going to be treated differently and even more so because he is on his way to becoming a very big black man (and for those of you who pretend that is not an issue, you're kidding yourself.) My husband and I are doing everything we can to prepare our son and ourselves for the experiences that lay ahead. Third: Adoption itself is a challenge worthy of a extra training. In our case, our son was exposed to drugs in utero presenting extra challenges. We're not too proud to get the help we need as a family to work through these challenges.
The final message is this: it's okay to ask for help. Training is great. Mentors are terrific. There are many wonderful resources for transracial families. The only mistake is pretending that racial differences aren't an issue and that ignoring them will make them go away. Should you cross racial lines to adopt? YES! We're an incredibly happy, blessed family. Would we be this way if we relied on love alone? Nope!

Sent by Claire | 7:37 PM | 6-4-2008

I have given this issue a lot of thought and discussed heatedly with my husband. We finally agreed that racism is rampant but not against a particular race. We seek people as friends that are like minded and alike economically. If I want to go play golf, I don't care if you are white, black or hispanic, I care that you like golf and have the money to play. So in essence, the 'racism' is not so much based on race but culture, economic, mental. Do you think like me and would I invite you to my house to have dinner. Do I want you around my children. As far as we are concerned, it goes way beyond color into other things which are really important. I recently had the opportunity to include in my circle of friends a couple that the wife is an exstripper (to set the record she was white) and I was not interested in pursuing that relationship. Does that make me a racist? I felt that my background and hers, my ideas and hers and my values and hers were too different in my opinion for me to find some common ground.

Sent by vn | 7:40 AM | 6-5-2008

Many of you clowns completely missed the point, and futhermore, your ignorance/arrogance completely substantiated the author's message

Sent by Marcus Guynn | 9:09 AM | 6-6-2008

Marcus, thanks for your input. I'm very glad to be in a world with people like you who are so much smarter than the rest of us and can fully comprehend and explain things. If only the world were full of you.

Sent by vn | 1:38 PM | 6-9-2008

One last comment.The culture in this country is not 'white' or 'black', its American, if you come to this country, willingly or unwillingly (as some will stress to point out) you are still here and you have to adapt to the 'American culture'. Nothing wrong with revering roots and being proud of them, but you do have to immerse yourself in the 'American culture' to fit in/assimilate.

Sent by vn | 1:46 PM | 6-9-2008

I disagree with the notion of mandated training for the same reason as I abhore the death penalty. Because I don't trust it to be applied fairly or rationally. Especially because I agree wholeheartedly that Anglo perspective gets rammed down our American throats 24-7. And that perspective contains a negative racial bias that the exstence of Obama does not refute.

ANYONE in foster care is lucky to be adopted. The hope is that those parents would do the best they can. As kids grow up, it's always necessary to fill gaps in parenting. If you spoke to Obama privately, I'm sure he had (or has) some gaps in his "interpersonal racial skills" but, under the circumstances of foster children, I believe that an excellent trade.

Sent by Charles | 12:35 PM | 6-11-2008

I am a white man with a black child. I never get any grief/looks from "white people" It is the "people of color" that stare at me like I was the devil.
Sent by A Klusman | 3:36 PM ET | 06-03-2008

A Klusman, I will call you a liar straight up. As white parents of two black children, we've had white people walk up to us and call our children niggers or other racist names. I've had one negative experience in 20 years with a "person of color" saying something, but her two black friends shot her down immediately. We've had tremendous support from our black friends and community throughout the years -- far more than from our "white" community. My opinion? You're a racist looking through racist-colored glasses.

Sent by Brian Questel | 11:16 AM | 6-12-2008

I don't agree that white families should undergo "race training" (or whatever its called) prior to adopting black children. Black kids are already waiting far too long for loving homes and loving homes should be the driving force in child/family matches.

Why do we not see the same outrage with transracial adoptions involving asian or for that matter African children? Why is this debate focusing only on African-American children? Do children of other ethnic backgrounds face similar cultural challenges in being adopted by white families?

We as African-Americans should stop being outraged that Black children adopted by white families will "lose their blackness" and be more concerned (appreciative?) when children are adopted into loving, nurturing homes and brought up to be productive citizens with respect for the diversity of our society.

Sent by Kevin McCormick | 10:15 PM | 6-23-2008

I am white, and I think I can agree with what you say about white people not being able to understand the perspective of a black person's day to day life. However I think this can be more widely applied to all minorities.

As a woman I feel like men do not understand what it is like to be a woman, living in a world where everything--TV, movies, books, what have you--is delivered from a male point of view. White males take for granted their privileged place in society and will never know what is like to be made to feel as if you are a second-class citizen, every single day.

Sent by Aubrey | 4:05 PM | 7-1-2008

When people write comments that include the words "all, everybody, and most people" then their ignorance usually supersedes their knowledge. Not all Black people live in the pj's, nor do they all like rap music. The same is true for White people, not all of them like country music nor are they all members of the Ayran Nation. Lighten up, learning how to care for a child is a good thing. Stop looking for a negative and try to find the positive. In America we have to take a class in High School to drive a car, yet we can have babies with no instruction. Anybody who drives to work can testify that some people still suck at driving. Maybe lessons are a good thing.

Sent by K. Higgins | 1:19 PM | 7-25-2008

Just this morning I was at a flee market and I saw two beautiful girls of color with their adoptive White mother. My heart sank as I saw their hair, which was an un-groomed, matted, unkempt, lint-filled mess. I felt compelled to say something, to offer something. I walked up to the mother and first complimented her on her two beautiful girls. She responded kindly and said that they were both beautiful inside and out. I agreed. I then offered her a referral to a hair dresser. The mother said, "No thanks. We already have one." I walked away after that wondering why the children's hair looked so neglected if they had a hairdresser; why didn't the mother realize the importance of good grooming; why was her girls' 'crown' not a priority. I have a natural short fro and could have given them a referral to a great barber! I don't have a problem with White people adopting children of color. However, a "color blind" parent may not be embracing, recognizing, and addressing the most obvious of differences: hair and skin. Hair and skin can't not be ignored. They are the two things that every child takes with them even if they leave their biological family, their culture, their first home, their first language, their clothes.... I have seen more often than not that White parents ignore or neglect the differences their adopted children possess--differences that should be honored and respected.

I grew up in a White suburb, which wasn't always the most positive experience. White children constantly asked me about my hair and my skin. For me to answer these questions with dignity, I had to know, at an intimate level, why I was different. Here are some simple responses I used growing up: "Your hair," I would say to curious White children, "produces oil, which is a sign that it needs to be shampooed. My hair needs an oil or a moisturizer because it gets dry....Your hair grows straight to a little bit curly. My hair grows in tight curls. I can wear my hair in many different styles. I can even wear it straight if I use a chemical 'relaxer.' My skin does not 'tan' because I'm already darker than tan. I am the color of Hershey's milk chocolate (smile). My skin needs to be protected from burning just like yours, but my skin does not turn red, just a darker shade of chocolate." Some of those days were painful. White children, when they touched my hair would say, "eeew." So, a Black child comes home crying because his/her hair or skin became the butt of stupid, racist remarks. A Black boy or girl looks in the mirror and doesn't like what s/he sees. A Black boy or girl wants to learn how to do his/her own hair, but doesn't know how. What will the White parents do? Identity is complex; made up of the tangible and intangible, the obvious, the hidden, and all in between; it is created by nature and nurture. Since it is already hard for parents to raise children period, I would want all the help I could get if I decided to adopt children outside of my race.

I have a White co-worker who doing just that. She and her White husband adopted a girl from China. They have embraced their child's differences. They talk often about her own heritage. They will be taking a trip to China next year so that she can have more exposure. The trip is specifically designed to help Chinese children and their adoptive non-Chinese parents. That is fantastic!

For all the references to Barack Obama (whom I support!), there seems to be willful ignorance of the fact that MANY Black-Americans raised by Black parents also attended Harvard (Law School, University, other grad programs)--I know plenty of them (I, myself attended Spelman College, an historically Black college for women).

Sent by Keeana Saxon | 2:22 PM | 8-9-2008

Rid, man this was intense reading. I like reading your columns, and somehow ended up reading this past one. Its the first time I've ever read through any blogs, from any column or webpage I've visited. So this is also the first time I've sent a comment. I stay away from so many personal opinions although I love the freedom and platforms that allow the expression. I'm a 54 year old man, born in Ipswich England. My dad was (deceased in 1971) a black man from Millen Georgia, my mom is from Portadown Ireland. I've lived this whole thing long before it was quasi-acceptable, long before Barack. There were a few, just a few, postings I respected, from people that spoke from experience. But mainly it was the open-mindedness that I respect. While I do agree with your original premise in the article, its the open-minded people that made sense to me. Gotta have an open mind if we hope to one day exist in an open society. Cause stuffs gonna happen whether we like, agree, or want it.

Sent by Carl Wayne MIles | 7:38 PM | 8-27-2008