The New Diaspora: African-American Babies Adopted Outside of the US
September 17, 2013 9:18 AM   Subscribe

 
How about that! I didn't realize that happened in the US, but I suppose private adoptions can do whatever they want (within legal limits). Yay for forever families!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There's too much prejudice over here. The white people are going to hate him because he's half black, and the majority of black people are going to hate on him because he's half white," said Susan, who is Caucasian. "And then he'll have to do extra things to prove what kind of a Negro he is, and extra things to prove what kind of a honky he is and I don't want that. I did not want that for my kid."
Interesting thought. Probably true, sadly.
posted by resurrexit at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2013


I am obviously super biased but this seems like A Pretty Good Thing, at least in the examples given.
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 AM on September 17, 2013


There are so many issues that go into this.
First is there are many, many US couples who won't even consider adopting anything other than a perfect little white baby. Sometimes, they'll consider some hispanic mixed in. This reduces the number of potential homes for black or biracial babies. It's sad.

There is also the profit motive. There's good money adopting babies overseas. Here in my area, there is one high-profile lawyer who has, in the past, shipped black and inter-racial babies out of the country for adoption. They tell the birth mothers straight-up that no one want their babies here in the US. That's a lie, of course, but there it is.

Truth is, black and biracial babies can, and do, find homes in the US. It just takes time and some serious effort on the part of the agency to find the right couple.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:35 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you are giving your child up for adoption, and you can find them a home where there is universal healthcare, upward mobility, and less race-based prejudice, why not? Hell, I'd move to the Netherlands right now if I could.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2013 [34 favorites]


With laws in some states allowing gay marriage and adoption, the United States is one of the few countries from which gays and lesbians can adopt,

I think this need to be qualified in some way, because same-sex adoption is lawful in a number of other places, several in the EU.
posted by Thing at 9:45 AM on September 17, 2013


I think it's qualified in the next paragraph (emphasis added): "So the gay families of the world, when they can't adopt in their own countries or don't want to necessarily, and want to adopt a baby, they're going to turn to the U.S."
posted by amarynth at 10:00 AM on September 17, 2013


First is there are many, many US couples who won't even consider adopting anything other than a perfect little white baby.

In the UK there is a glut of white adopters and non-white children spend considerably longer in care because, amongst other reasons, many social workers over-prioritise ethnic matching and are loath to consider adoption across ethnic lines.

This is largely based on, in my view, outdated research on problems with adoptees experiencing both racism and identity issues from a time when adopters gave no consideration to racial identity and simply brought non-white children up as white. Since then adoption process has changed considerably - notably in becoming child-centric - and Britain has become far more multiracial.

This is not to say that ethnic matching is not desirable nor that racial identity post adoption is not important. But social workers in many councils and agencies still enforce hard stops on interracial adoption, often dressed up as other concerns so as not to fall foul of government policy. More detail.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diaspora is an interesting way to think of this, it traditionally is as Wikipedia says "a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area" think, a group of people scattered from their homeland.
Can there be an American Homeland for most of us seeing as there a such a huge percentage of us from other areas, "we R mutts" could be our logo. I tend to think of America as a diaspora location rather than an origin point for such. (which all doesn't really address the Native American diaspora in of itself)
posted by edgeways at 10:20 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there really less racism in the Netherlands than in the US?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh look at this buried late in the article...

Reliable data on overseas adoptions of American children is hard to come by. Last year the U.S. State Department officially reported that 99 American children were adopted by foreign families. But the real number is almost certainly higher, said Peter Selman

So, this barely exists but we are going to make a story full of sweeping generalizations based on it?
posted by aspo at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The corpse in the library, it depends who you ask. But in The Netherlands the racists just up and formed a political party so you can always identify them clearly. "Yup, those are the xenophobes," you can say. In the good ole' we have a GOP that simultaneously calls itself "The Party of Lincoln" and does its damnedest to suppress the hell out of black voters.

As for ethnic matching, I'm not one to take a position, but the friends I've had who were adopted across ethnic lines did have some problems with societal expectations of them based on appearance, and it was the same damned stupid conversation every time they met someone from either their "birth culture" or their adoptive one.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:16 AM on September 17, 2013


On the matter of international adoption, a CNN article on Korean adoptees who oppose it. Full disclosure, I know two out of three people quoted in that piece.
Korean returnee activists are now fighting to improve government support for single women who have children. "Mothers are mothers," she said. "If you give them a real chance, most will want to parent their children. Who is the parent should not be a contest of who has the most stuff."
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:17 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Racism in Europe is more about religion than race. So you can be any color of skin, as long as you are not Muslim (or in some cases, Jew)
posted by mumimor at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh look at this buried late in the article...

Reliable data on overseas adoptions of American children is hard to come by. Last year the U.S. State Department officially reported that 99 American children were adopted by foreign families. But the real number is almost certainly higher, said Peter Selman

So, this barely exists but we are going to make a story full of sweeping generalizations based on it?


I think it's very misleading to give that quote and ignore the following paragraph, where it says:
For example, in 2010 the U.S. State Department counted only 43 U.S. kids who were adopted overseas, but the same year five countries -- Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland -- reported adoptions of 205 children born in the U.S.

If the State Department is registering barely a fifth of the actual number of these adoptions, then there seems to be a real problem with their reporting methods.

"In order to address that shortcoming, we have increased our outreach efforts to encourage receiving countries and public domestic authorities to report the outgoing adoption information to us," State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Finan said by email. - It doesn't sound as if they're going to sort that out any time soon.
posted by Azara at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they end up in the Netherlands, it could make Christmas somewhat awkward.
posted by acb at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even if the numbers are off the scale is still tiny. According to wikipedia there are ~140,000 adoptions in the us each year.
posted by aspo at 1:59 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]



First is there are many, many US couples who won't even consider adopting anything other than a perfect little white baby. Sometimes, they'll consider some hispanic mixed in. This reduces the number of potential homes for black or biracial babies. It's sad.

There is also the profit motive. There's good money adopting babies overseas. Here in my area, there is one high-profile lawyer who has, in the past, shipped black and inter-racial babies out of the country for adoption. They tell the birth mothers straight-up that no one want their babies here in the US. That's a lie, of course, but there it is.

Truth is, black and biracial babies can, and do, find homes in the US. It just takes time and some serious effort on the part of the agency to find the right couple.


That makes it sound like it's not as much of a lie as you might like to think. If non-white babies can get good homes and families faster abroad faster than they can in the US, why should those opportunities be squandered?

Regardless, it sounds like the subjects of the article are a good story, and one that should be held up as an example. The birth mothers seem to hold a good deal of power in the adoption. And in at least the article, seem to have chosen well. Despite a profit motive, the end result being a loving and safe home for a child is still of perhaps utmost importance.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:40 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Discrimination in the US? How often do you hear complaints about that white Kansan in the White House? What is best for the child should be the first consideration.
posted by Cranberry at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2013



Korean returnee activists are now fighting to improve government support for single women who have children. "Mothers are mothers," she said. "If you give them a real chance, most will want to parent their children. Who is the parent should not be a contest of who has the most stuff."


I just wanted to point out that some of the bigger-name international adoption agencies consider exactly this to be a primary goal. Holt International (the ones who's founders got international adoption legalized in the first place in the U.S.) definitely considers in-country placement to be the best option in almost all cases. I adopted through Holt, and knowing that fact makes me happy.

In fact, they work hard to reduce the need for international placement. This may seem at first glance to be counter to their monetary interests. Funny thing is, they lose money on every international adoption, so in a strange way they are actually helping their bottom line to work with countries to help their own placement rates and systems.

I'm sorry that I cannot find a convenient link to support this assertion, but since my mother was a regional director of Holt, and we've discussed it many times, I know it to be true.
posted by Invoke at 4:28 PM on September 17, 2013


I hope these children aren't being exploited. It's not unusual for people to "adopt" a child from a struggling nation in order to have a free maid or slave or worse.
posted by Renoroc at 4:53 PM on September 17, 2013


I hope these children aren't being exploited. It's not unusual for people to "adopt" a child from a struggling nation in order to have a free maid or slave or worse.
posted by Renoroc at 4:53 PM on September 17 [+] [!]

No one adopts an infant for the free labor.
posted by bq at 9:36 PM on September 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bq, you'd be surprised by the motives people have for adopting. I have had people say really really weird things about wanting a child of a particular race or type, including to raise the child as a grateful semi-daughter who will provide domestic service. I say semi-daughter because they saw the adoptee as existing adjacent to, not within their family.

And Invoke, you and your mother's experiences with Holt are valid, but so are the experiences of Holt adoptees who have had serious issues with how Holt was and in some ways still is run, especially in Korea. International adoption is way more complicated than orphans and forever families.

My husband and I are different races, our youngest is mixed race as a result, and my four older kids are a minority ethnic race from another culture. In one household, we have about seven ethnic/cultural identities as a result. I think race and culture are an important but not total part of adoption, and as so many adult adoptees continue to say that it was significant to them, that transracial adoptions need to be held to a higher standard, especially from adoptive parents because the little kid doesn't get a voice until much later.

This is a pretty standard article on adoption. They quoted Adam Pertman who is kinda on the happy ever after side, and there's no real criticism and nothing from adult adoptees of colour in Europe. Just - la la everything is great, yay. And the little hints about the role that money, race and class. It's like describing Othello as a story about a jealous husband.

I recently met someone in Europe looking to adopt and recommended she consider applying to the U.S., because they would be pretty awesome parents and there are kids available because of the mishmash of American state laws, racism and foster care there.

But the sheer weight of articles like this is just so frustrating.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:26 PM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Is there really less racism in the Netherlands than in the US?"

Every year around the holiday season the Dutch Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain around mid November with the Zwarte Pieten - who are most consistently described as 6 to 8 angry black men who are supposed to beat naughty children, stuff them into sacks, and kidnap them off to Spain, or bring candy depending on the disposition of the child. If you ask the wrong questions you'll invariably be told that the Zwarte Pieten aren't black at all, but in fact simply got covered in red lipstick, spotless white gloves and oversized Tudor neck ruffle, ridiculous colorful clothes, soot, and an afro wig while falling down a chimney rather than the 'moorish' slaves of Sinterklaas half-heartedly updated to 'friends' in the 50s. The Zwarte Pieten these days are just sometimes-drunk college to middle age Dutch white guys in black face making sure that Dutch children associate racist stereotypes of black people with candy and the holiday spirit and are suddenly totally unavoidable for two months out of the year.

Black children in the Netherlands annually get to deal with the diverse understandings their white classmates' come up with, and the viciously racist backlash against anyone who might point out that the whole business is at least just a little racist, or whose skin tone makes it look like they might.
posted by Blasdelb at 11:11 PM on September 17, 2013


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