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Roundtable Talk: Transracial Adoption

by Jennifer Hall
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(Photo by TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Headshot_1_420x280 Jennifer Hall
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Lily is a beautiful fair-haired girl with bright green eyes and porcelain skin. Dimples pierce each cheek at the sight of the cookies that her mother has just baked. She eagerly climbs into her mother’s lap to enjoy them as her mother’s chocolate arms wrap around her.

In 2014 the American family structure is indicative of our larger globalized economy. As people continue to look outside of their race, culture, and nationality to find places to live, work, and play the transracial family structure continues to become more and more prevalent.

Recently, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry was in the hot seat over racially insensitive comments that were made during her show concerning transracial adopted families. The political talk show host has since issued a public apology, which we have featured below:


In our latest Roundtable Talk V101.9 sat down with Nikki, Jiya, Nichole, and Dawn to explore the significance of transracial adoption and its impact on American society.

V101.9: Are you supportive of transracial adoption? Why or why not?

Nikki: Yes, everyone deserves a loving home regardless of race.

Jiya: Yes, I would rather know that children are being cared for, rather than dispute rather or not they should be raised by a specific race. Sometimes we focus more on the controversial side of things rather than the important factors.

Nichole: Absolutely! I feel that race shouldn’t be an issue. A child, no matter what their skin color, is a child, and any adult willing to love that child should be a viable candidate to adopt said child, no matter their race.

Dawn: Yes, because children deserve to be loved and cared for. Race does not negate that (for the adoptee nor the one adopting).

V101.9: The majority of families looking to adopt in America are white, and the majority of kids in foster care are black. Why do you think more African-Americans don’t view adoption as a viable option?

Nikki: I believe it could be the possible lack of education regarding the adoption process and/or the funds to do so.

Jiya: I think more African-Americans have more children than they can afford. Therefore, do not have the financial resources nor housing space to adopt or feed/cloth additional children.

Nichole: I think that it’s possible that some African-Americans view adoption as an expensive option, one that they may feel is out of reach for them. For some reason, there seems to be an idea that only wealthy Caucasian people can adopt children.

Dawn: I do not know.  If there are more black children in foster care, it seems there are fewer black parents able to raise them. So, there seems to be a smaller “parent” pool to draw from.  Also, maybe another reason is because families who would adopt black children might already be raising children; for instance aunts raising their nephews and nieces, or “grandparents” who are as young as regular parents raising their grandchildren.  Why adopt when you are already raising children that you did not birth?

V101.9: Will black children lose their identity if they are adopted by white parents?

Nikki: I don’t believe so, but I also believe it is the responsibility of the adoptive parents to educate their child on their heritage.

Jiya: Possibly…but they may also gain other things that they wouldn’t be exposed to if raised by a black person. It’s all about perspective. A white person may not have lived through the same struggle as our ancestors, but that doesn’t mean he/she is incapable of teaching about the struggle. And on the flip side of things, although we speak of the “black struggle” some of us haven’t truly educated ourselves to know exactly what the struggle was, but only what media and movies portray. I think it could be a gift or a curse from both scenarios.

Nichole: Potentially, I feel that they could become disconnected from their roots. I do feel that if a parent decides to adopt a child of another race, it is the parent’s responsibility to educate the child about his or her individual race, in addition to all races.

Dawn:  I think of identity as human and worthy of love and attention; this trumps racial heritage.  It is more important for the children to know that they are loved and wanted, than it is for them to know the culture of their race.  So, maybe they would not be able to identify with race, but they would know they are loved.

V101.9: Do you think that a black child that is raised by white parents will have trouble coping with prejudice and discrimination?

Nikki: Most people deal with some kind of prejudice or discrimination on a daily basis. I believe it will be hard for the child. However, the struggle of dealing with any kind of prejudice can be eased by the child’s support system; which starts with their family.

Jiya: Possibly, but I also think this very child might become the “leader” that unites the two different races; one that can understand and articulate both sides of the fence.

Nichole: I think that this could be an issue, especially if they are raised in a predominately white neighborhood. Their parents may also lack the resources or knowledge to help the African-American child cope with discrimination and prejudice.

Dawn:  I have no idea how to answer that.  It is hard for me to really know how black people face prejudice and discrimination, much less how that would occur with white parents.  To be honest, if I had to bet, I would say that it would happen less from other races and MORE from within the black race.

V101.9: Transracial adoption is the placement of children of one race with parents of another race. However, when you hear the phrase most automatically think about a Caucasian parent adopting a black child. What are your feelings toward an African-American parent adopting a white child?

Nikki: A child adopted is a child saved. If the adoptive family can properly provide for and love the child, I don’t think that race should be a factor.

Jiya: I don’t think that when I hear the word “transracial adoption”. It actually makes me think of the celebrities that adopt children from third-world countries or poverty-stricken places. My feelings are the same, in both instances, I’d rather a child be cared for, than not. That includes all races.

Nichole: While seeing an African-American parent with a white child is rare, I feel that this should be socially accepted. I think any negative views regarding an African-American parent adopting a white child are due to American history and the fact that throughout history many African-American women served as nanny’s for white children.

Dawn: It is hard to imagine.  It is hard to imagine a black family wanting or accepting a white child.

V101.9: Would you personally adopt a child outside of your race?

Nikki: Absolutely.

Jiya: I would. But honesty speaking, I would probably adopt a black/minority child first. Due to the statistic that you mentioned above…” The majority of families looking to adopt in America are white, and the majority of kids in foster care are black”…. I would like to be able to offer “our children” a chance to live with a person that they identify/relate to best.

Nichole: Yes. I was adopted myself and grew up in a house with four other adopted siblings. One of my brother’s is Hispanic, and while his skin color may have been darker than mine, we never viewed him as being different. To us, he was our brother, and that was all that mattered.

Dawn: I am not sure I would adopt at all.  I think that it would be more difficult depending on the age of the child.  Adopting a 14 year (black or white) would be less likely for me, than a child 5 years or less.  I would more than likely gravitate toward a child of my own race, but it is so hard to even imagining adoption in itself, much less what type of child.  I imagine that if I had a heart to adopt, it would be more about what child could I help the most?

Do you agree with our panel?

I ask you, is transracial adoption not a viable alternative to foster care?

Leave your comments below.

-Jennifer Hall, CBS Radio Charlotte

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