Charlize Theron adopts a back boy: should race play a role in adoption?

Charlize Theron

Actress Charlize Theron recently adopted a baby. That isn’t extraordinary news, since adoptions are a common occurrence in our nation. But the baby she adopted is a black boy from the United States.

Now, that changes things a bit. African-American children are sadly the least wanted when it comes to adoption. A 2010 NY Times article reports:

The probability that a non-African-American baby will attract the interest of an adoptive parent is at least seven times as high as the corresponding probability for an African-American baby. The desire for white babies can be partly, but not fully, explained by the fact that most of the adoptive parents in this data set were white; previous research has found that adoptive parents often want children who look similar to themselves.

I once had a black abortion doctor justify murder by telling me, “We both know no one wants black babies.” Her twisted logic convinced her that it was better for black babies to be dead than unwanted or in foster care. Yet in spite of those tragic facts, Charlize is the second major Hollywood actress to choose an African-American child in the past few years.  Sandra Bullock made news in 2010 when she adopted a newborn African-American boy from Louisiana. She named him Louie after Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician.

Celebrity adoptions, single-parent adoptions, and interracial adoptions can all be controversial. There are a variety of opinions on all of those subjects. For now, I’ll tackle just the thoughts some people have on interracial adoptions. We’ve all heard the common questions. “Can a white family teach a black child about their culture?” Or “Will a black child feel out of place in a white family?” Those are legitimate concerns that many have wrestled with for years. Here are my personal thoughts on these complicated issues.

Should white families adopt black children? Yes! Every race should adopt black children. As an African-American woman, I greatly support interracial adoptions. I also support them as an abortion survivor. Against a doctor’s wishes, my mother walked out her scheduled appointment to abort me. If she hadn’t kept me, I would have wanted a loving family who would take me. Race would not be a factor.

The death rate for black unborn children in cities like NY and D.C. is higher than the live birth rate. In 2010, for every 1,000 black babies born alive in their state, 1,280 died from abortion. We are in a crisis and need everyone’s help. Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t turn away Moses when she saw that he was a Hebrew baby. She loved him as her own. Black children can be educated about their culture by interaction with other black families, books, museum trips, recipes, music, and more. It may take effort to learn how to comb different-textured hair, but it will be worth it.

Black adopted children will have questions about their race. White families who adopt may be judged by family members and even strangers. There’s always a price to pay for going against the norm. The most important question is, “Are the children worth it?” Like Moses, there are many precious lives just waiting for a home. Will you give them one?

  • What I find interesting about the question of whether a black kid will feel out of place as the only black person in the family is that lots of people are the only fill-in-the-blank in the family – the only one who wears glasses, the only one with red hair, the only one with dyslexia, the only one with no athletic ability. Those might be less visible or highly charged differences than race, but a lot depends on individual circumstances. A particular black kid might take being the only black person in the family in stride, while a particular kid with red hair might be very sensitive about being the only redhead in the family. I was the only only child on my dad’s side of the family and I felt that very acutely, because it felt like my relatives always thought of it as something that made me different from their kids. In a different family, that might have been no big deal.

    • Ninek

      In my family there were some older folks who were a little racist…until one mom had two bi-racial children.  You’d be amazed at how a cute baby can melt ignorance.  Sure, for some families it might be an issue, but in my family it was an eye-opening and wonderful experience.

  • Amber

    I like the part of Pharaoh’s daughter taking in a Hebrew child and loving him as her own.  I never thought of it like that before.  I agree, children are worth it!!  Every race should adopt black children:)

  • oldmanbob

    In l964 I was adopted by Jesus into His family.  We are all one race, children of Adam who need to come into the family of Jesus.  What is the deal? a kid is a kid and a kid needs to be loved.

  • Elise77

    I  have an aunt and uncle who waited for four years for the opportunity to adopt, and their son is black. They subsequently adopted his brother, as well. The boys were the apple of my old-school, slightly prejudiced grandmother’s eye. :)

    I have another family member who was turned down to adopt a black foster child because she and her husband are white. They had developed a relationship with the child, and everyone was very devastated by the decision.

    I know people who have adopted from China, the Philippines, Haiti, etc. just to have a baby of their own. They don’t care what color their children are.

    People who are in a position to adopt should do so, and should not hesitate to adopt a child of a different race. And we do need to work on making adoption a better, more flexible, more affordable option. I’m just concerned that people could get the impression that there are just millions of healthy babies languishing in foster care because the color of their skin makes them “unadoptable.” Many childless couples would take ANY baby, irrespective of skin color, and still they wait. Kids who end up languishing in foster care generally do so because their previous upbringing has damaged them and adoptive families aren’t prepared for the baggage they bring with them, or the legal system has created barriers to their adoptions.

  • bigheart12

     As long as the parents are aware of the child’s cultural background and beliefs and are actually willing to let the child participate in so, then race should play no factor in adoption. All a child wants that is waiting to be adopted is love…those who feel the urge and who are in a position to adopt should definitely do so, no matter the race of the child.