Should Race Be a Factor in Adoption?

In an opinion piece for CNN's African Voices section, Lola Jaye, who lived with a white British family, suggests ways to help families better prepare for the challenges of transracial adoption.

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Madonna and her adopted daughter (Michelly Rall/Getty Images)

In an opinion piece for CNN's African Voices section, Lola Jaye cites statistics showing that black babies are less likely to be adopted than white ones in the United States and United Kingdom. Reflecting on her own experience living with a white British family, she suggests some ways to help families better prepare for the challenges of transracial adoption.

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."

So, with it becoming 'easier' to adopt a child from a different race -- does this make it right? It is a controversial question that I'm not going to seek to answer within the short confines of this article. However, my own experiences of living with a white British family have been positive and one can argue that this was because I still maintained contact with my birth family via visits to Nigeria.

Read Lola Jaye's entire piece at CNN.

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