Is it bad to adopt outside of your race?

There has been lots of emphasis placed on the preferability of adopting within your own race.

It was deemed that a white family adopting a black child would be unable to reflect the child’s background and there is some truth to this.

In 2002 Michael Gove, a politician, changed the narrative, stating that adoption shouldn’t be based on race, religion or ethnicity, but rather on the availability of a loving adoptive family.

So, is this true? Should people be able to adopt a child of a different race, religion or ethnicity to themselves?

Let’s firstly look at why not being able to adopt which ever child you wished, regardless of their cultural or ethnic background, was ever an issue.

The most common reason for blocking or disparaging trans-racial adoptions was that the adult would not be able to reflect the child’s background fully and could not see their life through the child’s perspective and there is truth in this.

As a black man, I wonder if, had I been adopted by white parents, they would have been able to protect me through a life of racism or indeed if they would have even noticed that I was a victim of racism.

It is true that in my circumstances, I never highlighted the discrimination I experienced to my family and therefore they were never fully aware of what I was exposed to, but they understood instinctively that I would have been going through some trauma.

I recall my mum marching into my school to see the head, because she felt my teachers were holding me back in the lower classes, especially for Mathematics. So, I feel sure she understood that I would be facing discrimination, even if we never actually talked about it.

Would that have been the same if my mum was white? I doubt that very much. So, I understand why the emphasis was put on matching race with race when placing children in adoptive homes.

However, back when I was at school, there was a common line that would be repeated when talking about adoption. “Black people don’t adopt”

This has changed over time and there are more black people adopting children, however in 2017-2018, 7% of children waiting to be adopted were black, while only 2% of adoptive families were black.

Based purely on that statistic alone, in my opinion Michael Gove and the government did the right thing.

But what about the other way around? What about families of colour adopting white children?

As it turns out, this subject seems to be more taboo. Unfortunately, finding articles about this are rare.

In fact, the only recent article I could find about black families adopting white children was a transracial couple and this had only made the news because the black father had been accused of kidnapping his white son.

I understand the discrepancy here, due to the lack of black or Asian families adopting, this means that when these families do adopt they are more likely to adopt within their own race.

In then follows that a black person walking around with a white son or daughter is very unusual.

It would be interesting, however, if the number of black families wishing to adopt was to exceed the amount of black children that are waiting for adoption, whether they would be pointed in the direction of the white children that need adopting. This, I doubt. It would be more likely that they would be directed to the mixed race or the Asian children.

So, back to the original question. “Is it bad to adopt outside of your race” This is my personal opinion!

Where possible you should adopt within your own race, with a few exceptions to this:

Firstly, if the child in question is known to you (maybe a family member or a close friends child), it shouldn’t matter what race the adoptive parents are.

If passing over potential adopters from different races and cultures means a child would be left waiting for a long duration (on average black children wait 3 years longer than white children to be adopted), then those children should be given the opportunity to be adopted by whom ever is willing and otherwise suitable to adopt them.

There are many couples out there with hearts of gold and the strength of a diamond who are willing to adopt disabled children (who are often passed over by potential adopters), these adoptions should never be restricted by race, only by ability.

There are other exceptions, foster children who have grown with families of different backgrounds, or mixed race families who are happy to adopt children of any colour.

Put simply, would a child rather be living with a loving family that struggles to understand their racial issues or be left in foster care and care homes throughout their childhood.

My answer to this question is that we should never be in the position where we need more people to adopt. We need to ensure that every child in this country, white, black or brown has a family they can feel safe in.

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