Thursday, April 11, 2019

Adoption, interracial adoption, and repugnance

The Washington Post looks back on the history of adoption. (Even adoption can arouse repugnance...):

A white couple, a mixed-race baby and a forbidden adoption
In 1966 in the nation’s capital, what Kara and Frank Speltz wanted to do simply wasn’t allowed.

"Longing for a child, the white couple, who were involved in the city’s civil rights struggles, began to research how they could adopt an African American child instead. A year after their wedding, they contacted D.C.’s Department of Public Welfare and Junior Village, the city’s overcrowded home for orphaned and destitute children. Both organizations turned them down, saying it was against their policies to allow adoptions between whites and blacks.
"In segregated, post-World War II America, children of color and mixed-race children were considered “hard to place” in adoption agency parlance. Most agencies at the time used a policy of “matching,” which required that children be placed with families who looked like them or came from the same racial, religious or ethnic backgrounds, according to Matine T. Spence, professor of history at the University of Iowa.

"Some white couples adopted Asian or Native American children, but whites officially adopting African American children were much rarer, Spence said. The first recorded case occurred in 1948 in Minnesota.

“Originally, the main impulse behind race matching in adoption was a white-supremacist, segregationist impulse,” Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy said in a 2003 Harvard Magazine interview.

"At the time, many states had miscegenation laws barring interracial marriage. Maryland even had a law until 1957 that said it was illegal for “a white woman to bear a child fathered by a negro.”

"Still, formal statewide bans on interracial adoption were rare, Kennedy told the magazine: “It was thought to be beyond discussion — it was so obviously wrong that there was no need for a law.”

"The District did not have an official law on the books. either. But because interracial adoption was considered so taboo, private and public agencies and judges, which had the authority to approve or reject adoptions, enforced an unwritten policy to bar it, Spence said.
"n 1969, there were 4,336 black children placed for adoption in the United States, with 1,447 of them placed with white families. In 1971, 7,420 African American children were adopted, with 2,574 placed with white families.

Interracial adoption was — and remains — controversial in the United States.
In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers asserted that such arrangements constituted a form of “cultural genocide.”

“With that condemnation, the number of white-black adoptions quickly plummeted, according to Kennedy’s 2003 book, “Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption.”

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