Wokeness has come for adoption. It is the children who will suffer


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Speaking of the surprising novelty of his organization reportCheri Williams, vice president of Bethany Christian Services, told the AP that allowing white families to adopt black children from the foster care system “can do great harm to children of color.” As a result, Bethany, one of the country’s largest adoption agencies, is in favor of a “overhaul” of the multiethnic placement law, which prohibits racial discrimination by placing a child in an adoptive family. As part of its “long journey to become an anti-racist organization”, Bethany executives now believe that a child’s race should be considered “as part of determining the best interests of child care.”

The way the agency arrived at this retrospective point of view – that determining the most welcoming, stable, and potentially permanent home for a child should involve matching their skin color with that of the adults involved – is worth it. worth understanding because it does not bode well for the tens of thousands of children of all races who need a permanent home and because it shows how much our understanding of discrimination has evolved in recent years.

In 2017, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of two same-sex couples, claiming that by contracting with religious agencies like Bethany that do not place a children with same-sex couples, the state was engaged in discrimination. . While Bethany was only responsible for placing 12% of the state’s children in foster care and there were many other agencies in the state that served same-sex couples and no evidence that same-sex couples were unable to adopt in Michigan, ACLU lawyers maintained that allowing agencies to be exempt from state non-discrimination rules because of their religious beliefs could make the difference “between a child finding a permanent loving home or staying in the system.” (The Supreme Court will rule this month on a similar case involving the city of Philadelphia and Catholic charities.)

In 2019, Bethany relented, reaching a settlement with the state. Nathan Bult, a spokesperson for the agency, told the Detroit Free Press: “Families these days are very different than they were when we started … and Bethany is committed to welcoming and serving them all. … The need is great, so we take an “all hands on deck” approach. “

Except, apparently, when it comes to finding safe and loving homes for black children. Then there are only a few hands on the deck.

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Opposition to interracial adoption is not new, of course. Before the civil rights movement, it was widespread. America’s first transracial adoption record occurred in 1948. But as attitudes towards interracial families changed in the public – a 2017 survey by the Dave Thomas Foundation of potential adoptive parents find that almost half had no preference as to the race of the child they would adopt – they remained entrenched in the world of child welfare.

In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers took up the cause, issuing a statement that took “a vehement stance against placing black children in white homes for any reason.” The group called transracial adoptions “unnatural,” “unnecessary” and “contrived” and argued that such placements were evidence of the continued “chattel status” of African Americans.

Unfortunately, this attitude meant that many black children languished in foster care rather than finding a permanent home. Today, as then, there are many more black children in foster care than black families who volunteer to welcome them. The reasons are various; as the Bethany report points out, black children are being taken away from their homes at a higher rate than white children. What the report fails to point out, however, is that black children are also abused and neglected. twice white children rate, and they are more than twice as likely to die as a result of child abuse as white children.

The way to correct these disparities is neither to leave children in abusive or neglectful homes nor to insist that they stay in the foster home until an adult with a matching hue comes.

The bipartisan coalition that developed the MEPA understood this. As Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) mentionned at the time, “too many social workers prefer to store children in foster homes and institutions … But I also saw firsthand that [interracial adoptions] can provide the loving, caring and stable home that all children deserve. “

And research on the outcomes for children has confirmed the position of Mr. Metzenbaum and his colleagues. Like economists Mark Montgomery and Irene Powell concluded after a review of all longitudinal studies in this area, “empirical evidence on transracial adoption strongly suggests that black children adopted into white families do not suffer from more developmental or adjustment problems than black adoptees in white families. black families. “

Unfortunately, the idea that racial barriers are transcendent and that discrimination based on skin color is not only permissible but necessary has come back into vogue.

The Bethany Report justifies its new racial prejudice by noting that “although well intentioned, the MEPA has failed to achieve its stated intention as a disproportionate number of children of color continue to remain in foster care.” But the purpose of the legislation was to ensure that black children in the foster care system had the same chances of being adopted as white children, not to solve all the big issues (like family structure, which is strongly correlated with child abuse.) which has led to a disproportionate number of black children in foster care.

And by this measure he succeeded. Since the passage of the MEPA and the Adoption and Family Safety Act (which reduced custody time and which racial activists also want to overturn) were passed in the mid-1990s, the adoptions “have gone from around thirty thousand to fifty thousand per year,” according to a 2020 item by Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution. “In addition, the average time taken by states to complete adoptions of foster children has been reduced by approximately one year.” What this means in practice is clear, writes Haskins: “More adopted children; faster adoptions. Double victory.”

But now, in the name of anti-racism, Bethany is ready to give up this victory. Black children will bear the brunt of this decision.

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a resident at the American Enterprise Institute. His book No way to treat a child will be released in the fall.

The opinions in this article are those of the author.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the source of the quote that the foster care system “can cause great harm to children of color”. Cheri Williams said so in an interview. This is not part of the Bethany Christian Services report.

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