As many child advocates feared when laws were changed in the 1990s to permit trans-racial adoptions of children in foster care, the practice is not working well for black children raised in white families, according to a comprehensive new study.
Although the report noted that trans-racial adoption alone does not lead to maladjusted children, dark-skinned children in white families face a range of challenges — they struggle with self-esteem and a longing to fit in that federal policies disregard in favor of a relentlessly colorblind process. But children aren't colorblind. The report tells of black children rubbing themselves with white body lotions, cream or chalk, or asking for white skin for Christmas, in order to better fit in with their white families and communities.
When the Multiethnic Placement Act was passed in 1994 and amended two years later to end the practice of matching children and parents by race, the stated goal was to reduce the amount of time African American children spent in foster care. That hasn't happened. Nor has a provision requiring recruitment of black families been complied with, even though black families are most likely to adopt black children.