Because they’re there.
OK, seriously. This post has been sitting as a draft for most of this year. The question was written by Adoptive Black Mom in her post Privilege, Adoption and Melissa Harris-Perry. Specifically, she wrote:
Do I think that [people of color] often sit back and question why White families adopt Black children? Yep, and I’ve been curious as well.
The author seems to think there’s some hidden motive behind White parents adopting Black children. My immediate reaction to the question, “Why do White families adopt Black children?”: Because they’re there.
The first time we adopted, we considered what was important to us, when it came to a child. Ultimately, we decided we didn’t care about the child’s sex, because we simply wanted to be parents. So, we didn’t specify sex the first time around. When it came to race, we had to decide if we thought we could provide the appropriate environment for Black children. We decided we could, because we simply wanted to be parents. It didn’t matter to us if our kids didn’t “match” us. Fortunately, we knew we were signing up for some extra work. We never subscribed to the Colorblind Theory of Parenting. We’ve done a lot of research when it comes to raising Black children.
When you set out to adopt, you’ll find that most of the babies and children available for adoption are of mixed race, and one of those races is usually Black. When you look at international adoption, most traditionally White countries have never been or are no longer sending countries. Russia is closed, Romania’s been closed for decades, apparently the political unrest in Ukraine has affected their program. Meanwhile, countries in Africa are opening up, even amidst reports of corruption. In the foster care system, the majority of kids are White, but the majority of kids available for adoption are children of color. In the private adoption sector, people don’t keep statistics. Anecdotally, however, and based on the situations we saw in 2010-2011 and ones that I see now from time to time, most babies are at least part Black. A lot of people seem to think that Caucasian babies are rare, but that’s not true either. You’d have a much harder time adopting an Asian baby than a Caucasian baby. But I digress…
If a prospective adoptive couple specifies race, they are limiting their choices. Limited choices means a longer waiting time. If you’re willing to accept the additional challenges of parenting a child outside of your race – whatever that may mean for you – chances are your wait will be shorter.
I believe that most White parents don’t necessarily set out to adopt Black children. We simply want to be parents. So, really, White parents adopt Black children because the children are there. There’s nothing nefarious about it. I don’t know of any adoptive parent who thinks that a Black child is an accessory or a fashion statement. (I should never read comments about Angelina’s adoptions – people suck) I can’t think of anyone I know who thought it would be cool to specifically adopt a Black baby. Most of the people I know, whether in real life or online, adopted Black children because – say it with me now – they were there.
We wanted to be parents, these particular children needed other parents.