Opinion: Should race be a factor in adoption?
Madonna and her adopted Malawian daughter at one of the Raising Malawi initiative's in 2010 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
March 22nd, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: Should race be a factor in adoption?

Editor's note: Lola Jaye, a native Londoner, is the author of three fiction books and one non-fiction. Jaye has also written for The Huffington Post and her novels have been published in various other languages, including Korean, German and Serbian. Her latest novel "Being Lara," is about a young woman searching to connect with her Nigerian roots after she's adopted by a British popstar.

By Lola Jaye, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The news that Charlize Theron adopted an African American baby has fired up a debate regularly stoked by the likes of A-listers Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. All have adopted transracially. And everyone has an opinion.

In the United States in 2010, black children left the care system at a rate of 24 percent, while white children left at a rate of 43 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the UK, where I live, a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child. And until recently, UK guidelines on adoption have made it difficult to adopt between races.

But the policy is changing after Michael Gove, the UK's Education Secretary said it was "outrageous" to deny a child the chance of adoption because "of a misguided belief that race is more important than any other factor." In the UK, a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child.

Indeed, the American 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act "affirms the prohibition against delaying or denying the placement of a child for adoption or foster care on the basis of race, color or national origin of the foster or adoptive parents or of the child involved."

Read Lola Jaye's full column

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Filed under: Black in America • Family • How we live • Race • What we think • Women
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    I don't have any problem with white adopting non- white children or vice versa.....my thing is, with all of our children in foster care in America, why are American citizens still fighting to adopt from other countries? Are the children in your resident country just not exotic enough? I mean if you have cultural/ethnic heritage from that specific country then that is fine but when Madonna fights adoption to adopt from Africa instead of the country she resides in permanently are being pushed to the side, it’s ridiculous.

    January 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nursemommy

    I don't have an issue with transracial adoption but why is it that white children aren't placed in nonwhite households at the startling rate that nonwhites are placed in white homes? Food for thought.

    January 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • multnomah2

      Maybe non-white households aren't interested in adopting white children.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rickyricardo

    its amazing to think that in this day and age we still have people with the mentatly of the old ages. I am a white woman, married to a hispanic man and adopted an african-american (black) little boy. At first I wasnt sure I was ready for it, not because I cant accept his color, but because I was afraid others wouldn't accept it. Boy was I right. We did adopt him, there are some people who do not accept it, and honestly its mostly blacks. it was the best decision I ever made for not only for him BUT FOR ME. he is the best thing in my life. Its sad to see and hear all the stories that are going on today; we tried to adopt another child (no preference) but to were giving such a hard time and are still waiting. Every child that is in foster care, no matter what race, color or what ever, deserves a loving stable home.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blackswan

    I have always been of the mind set that transracial adoption should not be a problem. I am black ( African American) and not offended when being referred to that way ( I know who I am). A child in a loving home is better than a child in foster care any day. I am a social worker and unfortunately the adoption process puts sometimes ridiculous requirements on folks who wish to adopt ( like the child must have their own bedroom). I grew up having to share a bedroom with an older sister and later a younger sibling and I am fabulously socially adept. The barriers to adoption are numerous but sometimes they are unnecessarily prohibitive.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • multnomah2

      I agree with you the Foster Home system is appalling atomosphere for a child. The Foster Home parents are advised not to get 'attached' to the child. Adoption in a 'forever home' properly investigated, and assessed by professionals where the child is wanted and loved is what's most important . Unfortunately, this is another system that's broken which won't be fixed soon. Sad.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TeeTee

    No, it shouldn't be. These kids need homes, period. My husband and I are going through trying to adopt right now and as potential parents we don't give a flying fart in space if the baby is black, white, purple, green or freaking paisley. People need to get a g-damn grip and realize this is 2012, not 1850. Get over it, folks. It's just skin.

    March 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jan

    Our son & Dtr-in-law (white) adopted twins-a girl & boy from Ethiopia-We love them dearly. Another Dtr-in-law is part Cherokee; our son-in-law is French. SO our family is officially PLAID. Our 3 grown children are devoted spouses & amazing parents. They didn't get that way by our being closed minded. Racism is a choice-in our family it is NOT negotiable.

    March 27, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Moncada

    I'm Hispanic and I had always wanted a brother. If I adopted a black haired, dark brown eyed baby there would be no problem, if I adopted a blond, blue eyed baby there is no problem since those features run in my family too. Maybe I would have adopted a black baby.

    March 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lizzy-Lou

    I am a Hispanic Adopted child by a Caucasian Family... They have been the best to me and I am greatful to them for letting me be part of their world.

    I agree with Fredajlo... racism is a learned behavior and if people keep believing the way Wizard does sociaty will never change. Instead of goin forward we will steping back.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moncada

      Racism for me wasn't learned, I was born with it I would say. I do my best not to be racist because I really don't like it.

      March 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kriss greenn

        You know Moncada, i can't knock you for being a self claimed racist. At least you know you are racist and you want to change it. I hoonestly do wish you luck in that. You ARE trying to push ahead to get past that crap:-)

        March 27, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. esoteric1


    March 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Debbie

    @WIZARD: I am a WHITE woman and your inference that any child who is not WHITE is less of a person than a WHITE child, is disgusting and ignorant. Oh, never mind, why am I responding? You probably wouldn't be even able to adopt and care for a pet from the Humane Society.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. comment123

    A child is a child. Red, yellow, black or purple, a child needs nurturing. We need to stop labeling these little angels by color and start recognizing that they are living beings that need love. That is what it is about

    March 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hamsta

    its a matter that should be how the adoptive parent bonds with the child.race may or may not play a role.i have adopted several animals in life.sometimes im able to choose what type of cat or dog sometimes they where strays that picked me.its all about what kind of bond is there.true a person isnt the same as some stray dog but it makes a good example.Alot of different factors such as culture maybe even religion are important to both the parent and child.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hamsta

    its a matter that should be how the adoptive parent bonds with the child.race may or may not play a role.i have adopted several animals in life.sometimes im able to choose what type of cat or dog sometimes they where strays that picked me.its all about what kind of bond is there.true a person isnt the same as some stray dog but it makes a good example.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A Factor but not an overriding factor

    I no longer think it should be a key factor i.e., give it no more than 25% consideration in adoption process.
    Nearly 20 yrs I became friends with a white woman who successfully raised a black child to adulthood. She married a Black GI stationed in her homeland Germany; later they learned she couldn't get pregnant, they adopted, but few years later they divorced (he remarried). Thankfully he left her with a daughter. She was tempted to return home to Germany but she wanted her daughter to grow up feeling beautiful and accepted. This wonderful woman did something startling too, she decided that she would make black friends. (And although a naturalized American, she is still culturally German–and taught her toddler German too.) She realized that she had to learn to comb her daughter's hair and learn other things about African American culture to share with her daughter. This woman has been in US 50+ years and been an incredible mother, grandmother and soon to be great-grandmother to her proud black children. it's possible for whites to raise black youngsters

    March 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WIZARD

    Im a WHITE man and IF i was going to adopt, id only adopt a WHITE kid cause if the kid aint WHITE, it aint rite! Why would i want to adopt anything less?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • fredajlo

      That is a very sad statement Wizard and your intelligence is showing. Racism is a learned behavior, who taught you?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Moncada

      How could there be people like you?

      March 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TeeTee

      Well, then do the world a favor and never adopt – no one wants that ignorance passed on to the next generation. Thanks.

      March 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Jomm

    I do not have no problem with it as long as they keep the kid connected to their heritage and who they are (society is not kind and will wake them up and it wont be nice). When this does not happen, these kids grow up confused and have to deal with idenity issues and how to handle racism. SOrry but everyone is not as kind as the people who adopted them. That is life. Keep them close to their hertiage.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kriss greenn

      I 100% agree with you Jomm. As long as the child can proudly say "Yes, I'm this race, but i had two wonderful parents from this other race that love me" Point blank, that is all that should matter; that the child is happy and taken care of.

      March 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |

    we lack the right to exercise how we feel when there are mixed races being the subject matter! STOP IT! IT HAS HELD BACK THE LEARNING PROCESS.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Just my observation

      It shouldn't be a problem. So, there are racists people and I don't think that will ever change. Adopting transracially presents some social problems. it comes from the parents down to their children. There are cliques that will not accept a child of a different race and of course Moms shut the gate on children who "look different than their children do".
      All that being said it is really a great Blessing to all children who have the opportunity to be adopted and raised with a family. Foster care isn't the way any child should be raised being sent from home to home and then ageing out of the system. It's very unfortunate for all the childen regardless of their race but in the "world" and neighboorhoods people want their children to be with the "in ' group and children who are not say caucasian have a more difficult time. I noticed that Asian and Hispanic children are more accepted that AA. Just my take; doesn't mean I'm right.

      January 6, 2013 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |