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Friday, February 25, 2011

The unhappy politics of interracial adoption (1989)

[SOURCE: U.S. News & World Report, November 13, 1989]

“…Unfortunately, the world of interracial adoption is governed by a tangle of emotions and public policies that defy simple logic. The adoption community today is haunted by a bitter debate over whether interracial adoptions rob children of their cultural heritage, sowing identify crises and low self-esteem. A small but vocal group, led by the National Association of Black Social Workers, goes so far as to assert that interracial adoptions are “cultural genocide” and that only a black family can equip a black child with the psychological armor needed to fight racial prejudice.

“No one disputes that, everything else being equal, matching the racial and ethnic backgrounds of children to their adoptive families would be preferable. But due to the decreasing stigma of bearing children out of wedlock and a surfeit of Third World orphans, the number of non-white babies available for adoption has soared in recent years.

“Of the 60,000 children adopted by U.S. families in 1988, about 20,000 were minority children and about 10,000 of them were from abroad, estimates William Pierce, president of the national Committee for Adoption, a research and lobbying group. But while there are a hundred applicants for every healthy white infant in the United States, thousands of black, Hispanic and Third World babies still are going homeless. With such a statistical mismatch to contend with, social-service agencies’ traditional notions of what constitutes a “model” adoption are increasingly impractical.

“…For Native American children, a longstanding dispute over interracial adoption was resolved legislatively, but some troubling issues persist. The children fall under the jurisdiction of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, passed into law because tribes felt they were being used as baby breeders by child-welfare agencies and state courts. The law generally gives tribal courts exclusive power to make custody and foster-care decisions for children considered legal residents of a reservation. But critics, including Pierce of the National Committee for Adoption, have raised questions about whether the law’s application in thousands of custody cases best serves the interests of Indian children or merely gives tribes extra clout in their quest to remain independent and self-governing.

[I will be publishing more of my research (since 2004) in coming days on this blog...Trace]

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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