Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mixed Feelings about MEPA changes

Today, the NYT covered a recent report by the Evan B. Donaldson Institute which suggests that minority children are ill-served by the Multiethnic Placement Act. This act basically makes it illegal for social workers, judges, placement agencies, etc, to consider race when placing a child for adoption.

I've written before that the only thing crappier than foster parents being allowed to turn down minority children (which I still, personally, think is gross) would be forcing minority foster children to live with racist foster parents who don't really want to parent them but they have to because they can't say no.

Man that was a long sentence.

So, I have mixed feelings about this idea of messing with MEPA. Do I think that parents who adopt transracially (myself included, if this ever happens) should take prep courses on transracial adoption? Abso-freakin-lutely. Do I think that a lot of parents who adopt transracially would jump at the chance to take those classes? Umm, yeah. Do I think said parents should HAVE to take those classes? I don't know about that one.

I don't like the idea of giving the system any reason to allow minority kids to languish in foster care just because they want to place children with families of the same race. I don't care how you prepared you are (or aren't) for transracial adoption, I think a clueless permanent family of a different race is LIGHT YEARS better than no permanent family.

Admittedly, I've only read the executive summary of the report, but the recommendations it makes are fairly innocuous I think. The key one for me is an encouragement to states to recruit more minority foster parents so that children do have appropriate same race placements. While I agree with that in theory, I don't want to make a blanket statement that a home where the parents have the same skin color as the children is necessarily a better placement than my home. I don't think that's always the case.

Anyway, I am still processing all of this. Just wondered if anyone else has been thinking about this?


Dream Mommy said...

I live in an area were I could not foster/adopt a child of another race because the people in the community would treat the child so badly it would be cruel to him/her, though I personally do not care.

It's not always the foster/adoptive parents decision, but there are sometimes outside factors involved.

Yes, I should say "screw everyone else", but how would the child feel being rejected by the community?

I know...I REALLY need (and want) to move. Just waiting for dh to even whisper the word "move" and my bags will be packed.

No Longer In Crisis said...

I read the article, too, and was heartbroken. It feels like instead of trying to take action that gets children into forever families sooner, well-intended folks are throwing yet another thing into the mix that will make the process even lengthier. That is clearly not what non-white children need - to be even older and available for adoption. I also can't imagine what folks like Michael and I would face as a bi-racial couple - would we only be allowed bi-racial kidos? If that were the case, we would not have had ANY of the foster children (or current children) we had/have. How sad that would be.

Discrimination is everywhere. It's here in KY, just as it is in LA for Lisa - it's just more silent here. You gotta teach your kids about race and culture and ethnicity no matter what - doesn't matter if they are bio or otherwise.

But the article just worried me about making the process even muddier. Surely if that many people and agencies are concerned about adoption, their time could be best served taking actions to make the process smoother for everyone involved.

Hahn at Home said...

I had some thoughts on this as well over at my blog.

Racism is EVERYWHERE...your commenter can't move that far away to escape it.

What adoptive white parents can do is be prepared and willing to teach the children how to cope with the racism. They can't do that without having a much deeper understanding of what it means to be of color in this country.

Classes, I believe, should just be the start of a long education process that parallels the home study process.

Certainly no one forces foster parents to ever take a placement against their will - at least in none of the states I've been in. So, I think the chances of racists getting a black child to foster is probably not happening very often.

Kathryn said...

to your last 2 posts, all i can say is, "i know." thanks for posting on both topics. they're tough ones.

btw, do you mind if i link to your last post?

Deborah said...

I had heard about this, and I'm not sure what I think. I'm about to become the white mother of a biracial child (biological) and I worry a lot about how I can raise him when our experiences are so different. I wonder if I'm creating an impossible situation for him to be at home in so many different worlds.

But where I'm not sure what to think is in the intersection of what should ideally happen in the foster care situation and how to create laws that will actually make that happen. I have little faith in government to actually make anything happen, honestly. So while in theory, I think that of course they should recruit more minority foster parents, and of course white parents should attend some cultural training, and of course all else being equal it would be better for a child to have foster parents of his/her own race, I'm not sure what laws will actually make this happen (I think I just beat you for a long sentence!). I am afraid that even if all of the above is the intention of a regulation, the effect will be minority kids waiting longer on placements while an agency attempts to locate minority foster or adoptive parents. And that wouldn't be good. So I don't know.

Barb said...

Wow. That's a lot to think about, and I don't really have any clear answer as to how I feel. I don't think that everyone can handle transracial adoption for various reasons, but I also don't necessarily think that race is the main factor in placement. so complicated...

armsforanangel said...

I wrote a lengthly response to this on my site. It's about three posts down, titled Love.

Obviously, I have an opinon on this since we are transracially adopting a biracial child. So, yeah, definite opinions.