African-American Leadership Group Condemns Racist Adoption

Project 21
Press Release – March 1995


Project 21 News

(A publication of Project 21, 300 Eye St. NE Washington, D.C. 20002 (202) 543-1286; Fax (202) 543-4779.)

Date of Issue: March 1995

African-American Leadership Group
Condemns Racist Adoption Practices

At a meeting of the national Advisory Committee of the African-American leadership group Project 21 on March 17, Project 21 members agreed that transracial adoption should be encouraged as a means to provide stable homes for black children currently in foster care.

Since forty percent of the children awaiting adoption are black, and only 12 percent of the U.S. population is black, many black children either must languish in foster homes or be adopted by non-black couples, concluded Project 21 members at the meeting. However, many local and state social service agencies actively prevent transracial adoption in hopes of placing black children with black couples willing to adopt. The recently released movie Losing Isiah confronts this controversy with the story of a mother who attempts to reclaim custody of her child from Isiah’s white foster parents three years after abandoning him.

“The adoption system was designed, so I thought, to place children in need of loving, supportive families,” argued Project 21 Advisory Committee member Darlene Kennedy, who was an adopted child herself. Kennedy, whose husband is white, was told by Baltimore City social service representatives that if she and her husband wanted to adopt they would be considered a black couple. Disgusted with the racial labeling of couples wishing to adopt, Kennedy said, “Black children are sinking in bureaucratic quicks and while the families most able to adopt them are denied the right simply because they lack sufficient amounts of melanin in their skin. Groups such as the National Association of Black Social Workers have a political agenda which they seek to accomplish on the backs of children. Black children, they say, belong in black homes even if white families are capable and willing to raise them. Isn’t it ironic that the racism groups like this one claim to loath is the same racism that is practiced with such self-righteousness. What’s in the best interest of a black child stuck on the adoption treadmill is the right to become part of a family who will nurture, love and provide stability to that child’s life and a white family will do just fine.”

“Not too long ago, some people were screaming about the evils of orphanages when they were suggested as alternative homes to trash cans in alleys for neglected children,” says Project 21 Advisory Committee member Ramona Rogers. Rogers, who also serves on the California State Republican Central Committee, added, “And now, some of these same people are content to have black children shuffled around in different foster homes, because couples willing to adopt them aren’t the same skin color. Even worse, some couples willing to adopt children of any race are forced to look in other countries because of practices existing in this country discouraging transracial adoption. Couples wishing to adopt should be judged on their ability to provide a stable home and to be good parents; instead, social service agencies are judging them on whether they’re racially fit.”

Critics of transracial adoption argue that black children will lose their cultural, physical, and psychological identity if adopted by parents who are not black. Proponents of transracial adoption cite a study by Rita Simon of American University that shows adopted children do not lose their pride or the closeness of family relationships when compared to children who live with their natural parents. In an effort to make transracial adoptions easier, now retired Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) successfully sponsored the Multiethnic Placement Act last year. Once the bill passed Congress, however, the Clinton Administration announced that it would interpret the bill to mean race would remain a factor in the adoption process, and actually made interracial adoption more difficult. Congressman Jim Bunning (R-KY), as part of the welfare reform package in the Contract With America, is seeking to bar federal money from being distributed to any agencies that discriminate based on race when placing children.

“The critics of transracial adoption who claim black children will lose their identity if they’re adopted by white parents are talking nonsense,” notes Joseph Broadus, an Assistant Professor at George Mason University School of Law and a Project 21 Advisory Committee member. Broadus continues, “Couples willing to love and educate their adopted children properly will insure that the children assume a positive identity. Social service agencies discriminating based on race are imposing state-sponsored racism. And worse, they’re insuring minority youngsters won’t find homes, leaving many of them to feel unwanted. But I guess in the eyes of some policymakers, the identity crises unwanted children undergo isn’t as great a problem as the crises suffered by black children adopted by white parents. ”

Project 21 is an African-American leadership group dedicated to providing fresh approaches to problems facing American communities. For more information, contact Project 21 at (202) 543-1286.


The National Center for Public Policy Research
300 Eye Street NE, #3
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 543-1286 Fax: (202) 543-4779



One comment

  1. The reverse is commonly practiced, as well. I lost my daughter to DCF after my (white) adoptive mother handed her over while I was in the hospital (nervous breakdown over death threats from my adoptive mother’s husband), claiming I had abandoned her. DCF insisted that I “[had] major identity issues around being African-American”, and used this as “proof” of severe mental illness. Seeing as how I: a) am only 25% AA, b) my daughter is 12.5% AA, and c) we are clearly related and not “black”, I fail to see why this would be a parental fitness issue or even proof of an identity issue.

    DCF did, in fact, take Suzanne Zanoni (the original, Caucasian social worker on my case) off of the case when she proved to be too much of an advocate for reunification. To whit, she was dismissed from the Cape Ann office after making contradictory statements in court, and was replaced with NABSW member Sid Malatini. (Interesting to note that Ms. Zanoni has a mixed race niece. Perhaps DCF felt she was ‘too close’ to the case and wouldn’t make the ‘right’ decisions. She was moved to the Lynn, MA office)

    My daughter is now with her fully white father’s parents, who do not allow me to be part of her life. I was told by DCF social workers that I was “not part of her family” anymore, and that her “parents” (grandparents, thank you) had the right to cut me out.

    I don’t think I need to mention that exactly ZERO media outlets picked up this story, and I have had more than one person claim there “must be more to the story”, basically implying that, because I am slightly darker than they, I must somehow truly Be At Fault.
    For the good of all, the NABSW should be dismantled.

Leave a Reply to Kat Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.