Monday, July 26, 2004


You might wonder how my wife and I came to adopt a black baby.  Interracial adoption isn't all that common, after all.  While I've seen lots of white couples who adopted a Chinese girl, I've never seen or even heard of a white family adopting a black child, with two exceptions (a homeschooling family that my mother knows, and a federal judge who I clerked for).

It came rather suddenly.  My wife had called an adoption attorney, just looking for information.  He called back a few days later with the message that a black woman who was 8 months' pregnant had called him, and he didn't know any couples willing to adopt a black baby.   We didn't have to think about it for long; we had considered adopting a girl from Haiti a few years ago, but couldn't afford it. 

So things took off.  We met the birth mother, an attractive woman about 24, who already had two daughters from another man.  She didn't think she could handle another child, and she thought that he might be an obstacle if she tried to get back together with her daughters' father.  As for the baby's father, he had urged that the baby be aborted, and then had disappeared from the mother's life. 

Interestingly, she never even mentioned the fact that we are white.  We had expected that she would at least ask a question or two: "Are you prepared to have an inter-racial family?," or the like.  But never a word.

It's not that she was shy about discussing matters of skin color.  At one point, she expressed bemusement at the fact that her son's father was "dark, really dark."  She said, "I usually go for the light-skinned guys.  I'm a yellowbone."  (I can guess what "yellowbone" meant from the context.  I presume that it is associated with the terms "yellow" or "high yellow" used to denote light-skinned blacks.)

Anyway, we adopted Jonathan, and couldn't be happier with our decision.  So far, we have received nothing but positive comments from numerous strangers in public places.  More so, it seems, than when either of our two natural children were newborns. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you Stuart! We have white neighbors here in Southern Utah that has adopted 4 babies of African-American heritage. Everybody in our LDS ward here just love them to death. They're going to have a bunch of "grandparents" as they get older.

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two sets of aunts and uncles that adopted black children. Both families live in Michigan and they did it in the 1970's.

Congratulations on the adoption.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations and best wishes.

You write that interracial adoption isn't common. That's true. One of the most important reasons for that is the fact that most adoption agencies and socil worker organizations had policies discouraging placement of black children with white families. The Institute for Justice has been involved in a number of cases challenging these policies. See, e.g., this link.

The National Association of Black Social Workers branded the practice "cultural genocide" in the early 70s. The bans have been slowly rolled back, starting the mid-90s. The 20 or 30 year gap, however, explains why the practice is so rare.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart - Mazel tov!

My cousin Carol, as a 50 year old single, Jewish woman adopted newborn baby Brandon a few years ago from a black mom. (For some odd reason, the non-Jewish mom wanted a Jewish family for her son.)

Carol's younger brother, Brian, had died a few years earlier of a brain tumor. Brandon has brought new life and ooodles of joy into my cousin's and aunt's life.

Best wishes to your family - and hey; how about some pics of the little cutie??

Peg K

12:05 AM  
Blogger Karlo said...

Congratulations on your decision to adopt. I really appreciate your compassion towards this young child soon to enter the world. In my own case, I knew a white family living in rural Washington that adopted a Korean girl and two black boys. The children all grew up well, although I think the boys did have a few minor issues with their identity when they were young since they were the only black kids in the small rural town. Anyway, I wish you all the best!

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this explanation. My wife and I have been considering domestic adoption (of any baby who needs a family), but keep hearing horror stories regarding bureaucracy and expense. Of course, it may be difficult to match your lucky and speedy experience, but it gives me cause for hope that we might find similar success through persistence.

And, more importantly, best wishes to your growing family!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart -- that's very brave, in this society. It's a shame that it should have to be brave, but, nonetheless, it is. I may violently disagree with your political views, but I congratulate you on how you live your personal life.

Good for you.

-Paul Gowder

8:10 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I know two sets of white parents who have adopted black children. In both cases it was because of infertility, and in both cases they deliberately sought out black children to adopt.

I think there are two reasons it isn't all that common. One, as has been mentioned, is that stronghold groups in the black community call it outright evil. The NAACP probably is the most noticed of these groups. The argument is pretty lame, because it assumes DNA is enough to give you a culture that someone can rob of you. I guess it's true that if you see others with a similar look to your own, and they all have a shared culture that you don't have, then you might feel left out. My brother had a friend in exactly that situation. The moral reasons for adopting cross-racially outweight that, though, I think.

The other reason is simply that most white couples looking to adopt are doing so because of infertility reasons, and many of them are embarassed about it. They therefore, independent of any racism, even residual racism, want children who look like them who can be passed off as their biological children in most contexts. What residual racism remains in terms of what people's hopes for their children to look like only adds to this.

10:43 AM  
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5:49 AM  
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