Why Would White Parents Adopt Outside of Their Race?

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, and recently actress Kristen Davis {from Sex and the City} made magazine covers when she adopted an African American baby girl. I read the articles online about her newest addition, but I also read the comments. There were quite a few questions from Caucasians and African Americans about why so many people are choosing to adopt outside of their own race. Because her baby is African American, the questions primarily centered around white people adopting black babies, but I’ve seen people raise their eyebrows at white people adopting Latino babies as well. 

I’ve read several articles in magazines and online discussing why adoptive parents would adopt outside of their own race or culture. The authors of these articles often come to conclusions on their own, but I thought as a pre-adoptive parent, I’d address the questions from our own perspective. So, one question at a time, here we go:

“Why not adopt one of your own?”

A simple search on Google about trans-racial adoption can render dozens of articles written by non-adoptive parents asking the question Why don’t people adopt “their own” race of children?

It’s a good question, and one I’d like to address as a pre-adoptive parent who is open to any race of baby. Why indeed would we be open to a race that is not Caucasian? For one thing, it’s said that statistically, for every white baby being placed for adoption, there are somewhere between 24 and 40 parents vying forthat baby. That’s a big number. Your odds aren’t good. But beyond the underwhelming statistical chance of a family being picked for a healthy white baby, there’s the direct result of this high demand for white babies: There aren’t many of them. A healthy white baby available for adoption within the foster care system is a rare find. Almost non-existent, in fact.

So, there’s the mere fact that white babies {healthy white babies I should add} are few and far between in the adoption world, but then there’s also the fact that most adoptive couples are Caucasian. To the person who asks why a parent wouldn’t just adopt a child from their “own” race, I would say that often these babies would take years to come around. Many times {I’d wager to say more often than not} the Caucasian babies who come available for adoption either through private domestic adoption or state foster adoption have some level of drug or alcohol exposure or some level of health complications. It’s sad but true, so if you want a healthy white baby, you’re going to be waiting a very very long time. Years and years. If you’re willing to accept a Caucasian infant that has some health complications or substance exposure, you may not be waiting quite as long, but your wait time would still be longer than other races of perfectly healthy babies, and you would be waiting along with dozens of other potential adoptive parents all with the same hope and desire.

“Do white people just walk in and ask for a black baby?”

I read this question just the other day from an angry commenter in response to the article about actress Kristen Davis adopting her baby girl recently. No, in most cases they do not. In most cases, couples will simply state in their profile, homestudy, or preference checklist provided by the agency that they are interested in adopting a baby ofany race, and then they happen to be matched with a birth mother expecting an African American baby, because sadly these babies are the hardest to place in adoptive homes. Some couples will exclusively ask for African American babies because they know that these babies are the hardest to place with families, and they are hoping to give a loving home to one of these precious kiddos. Many couples go into the adoption with the desire to be parents to a baby, and they often have their own priorities in place for accepting a proper match. For instance, our number one priority is the health of the baby. Our second priority is the anticipated fees required for the mother, and really the furthest concern of ours is the race or gender of the baby.

That doesn’t mean that an adoptive parent such as myself should walk in unarmed to an adoption situation with a baby of a different race or culture. Preparing to adopt a baby with a cultural history so different from your own is more than just buying some black Barbie dolls and having the writings of Frederick Douglas on your bookshelf. It isn’t to be taken lightly. Same goes for those who adopt Latino children or children from Asia or any other culture that’s unfamiliar to you. You can’t just take your China-born child out for Westernized Chinese food once a month and call that cultural exposure.

Travis and I are spending this time educating ourselves about a variety of different cultures {something as Americans I believe we should do anyway}, and will completely submerge ourselves in the culture of our child once we are for sure matched. For now I’m enjoying learning about African American culture, dress, hair care, music, and history, and Latino history, language, cultural traditions, and food. It’s fascinating to me, and I’d love to teach Little and all of our future children about these varying cultures to expose them to the traditions that make up our nation. Right now I’m just reading and exploring, but when we are matched with a birthmother and we know the race of our baby, I’ll dive in completely.

“Are they just following in the footsteps of celebrities who think African American children are some kind of accessory?”

I can’t speak for all adoptive parents, but I can certainly speak for all that I’ve ever come in contact with, and the answer would be a big resounding NO. Never have I heard any adoptive parent credit their decision to adopt to anyone in Hollywood. That’s just ridiculous. I will say it’s nice that some stars are somewhat normalizing adoption to people who wouldn’t think of it as a realistic option to further their families. However, no one should ever think about having a child biologically or through adoption because they saw someone else doing it. That’s so absurd. Children aren’t “accessories,” and I certainly didn’t even remotely equate my desire to adopt with the fact that Angelina Jolie or Madonna have adopted children. To this question, I say Puuuhhh-lease!

“Are there just not enough children their own color to adopt?”

Again, please see the first question. In a nutshell, no. But beyond that, I love the idea of having a multiracial family, and I really do believe in my heart that living out our faith is not rejecting a child based on their skin pigment. In other words, we never would have been open to only white babies anyway.

“Are they trying to infiltrate or bring an end to the -insert culture-?”

Absolutely positively NOT. NO no no. I want my children, regardless of their culture or heritage or race to feel 100% proud of how they look, where they come from, and who their family is {us}. I want to celebrate their culture. We won’t be a white family who has adopted a Latino or African American baby. We will forever be a multiracial family. All of us. We will all embrace our child’s culture and celebrate it. We’ll go above and beyond to reach out to others who look like our children so they see us with friends of all different ethnicities and so they have role models that look just like them. Adopting outside of my culture does not mean at all that I’m trying to make that child white.

In a nutshell, we’re open to multiple races because we love the idea of God bringing us the baby He wants for us. Our adoption is so much more exciting than a pregnancy because not only do we have the suspense of wondering what gender our baby will be, but we also get to wonder what race they will be. I know that God already knows who our baby is. He already knows that our child is beautiful and will fit perfectly in our family, and we will be a perfect fit for him or her. I don’t want to close us off to anything that God might want us to keep open. It’s just a genuine act of faith.

I want to leave it up to our amazing agency to hand our profile to the right woman for us. I just can’t imagine a woman falling in love with us but then hesitating to accept her baby into our family because of his or her skin color. That doesn’t feel right to me, and I don’t think that’s what God is calling us to do. I hope this clears up some of the questions and misconceptions about the recent rise in parents adopting outside of their own race. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth anything in this life ever is.





Filed under Adoption General, Adoption Questions

2 responses to “Why Would White Parents Adopt Outside of Their Race?

  1. Thank you for trying to explain! I hope some folks understand. I too am open to adopting a child of any race, and it seems to confuse a lot of people.

    • It sure does! I gave it my best shot. My hope is to clear the air that we aren’t trying to create a cultural genocide, as it has been called by certain African American leaders who oppose the adoption of African American babies by white families. We just have a heart that wants to give a home the any baby that needs it, regardless of skin color.

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