Listened to a debate today on the ethics of "transracial adoption" (Diff'rent Strokes for diff'rent folks). The fact is that children up for adoption in the U.S. are mainly non-white while prospective adopting families are predominantly white. (Some part of this reflects the middle-class standards for approving adoptions). Public adoption agencies are instructed by Federal policy to be colorblind, but many professionals see this as a policy to degrade ethnic cultures and can recount the horrors faced by children whose parents can't prepare them for a society in which racial identity is a key part of personal identity. In fact, in 1972 a national association of black sociologists proclaimed the wave of non-white children being adopted into white families to be "cultural genocide." At first glance, there is a strong point there - but I think a more principled response is to deny neither the importance of ethnic culture not equal protection. I think we should stop assigning cultural identity by color. Why can't a white child participate in and become a contributing part of african-american or korean culture? Why can't the Drummond kids just BE white? Is it because their peers won't accept their cultural identification? OK, then, THATS the problem, not the loving families that adopt these kids. Sure, parents have to be ready to deal with real issues and have to help their children make decisions about their own cultural participation. But none of these are the responsibility of an adoption agency. Maybe if it would be more difficult to make assumptions about people, we wouldn't be so tempted toward prejudice.

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