Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adoption:Should race be a consideration?


Several pairs of eyes follow the girl as she pedals around the playground in an affluent suburb of Baltimore. But it isn't the redheaded fourth grader who seems to have moms and dads of the jungle gym nervous on this recent Saturday morning. It's the African-American man—six feet tall, bearded and wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt—watching the girl's every move. Approaching from behind, he grabs the back of her bicycle seat as she wobbles to a stop. "Nice riding," he says, as the fair-skinned girl turns to him, beaming. "Thanks, Daddy," she replies. The onlookers are clearly flummoxed.

As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O'Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought "we might be lynched." And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn't being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, "Are you OK?"—even though Terri is standing right there.[...]

1 comment :

  1. We adopted Rafi at a time when the system in New York strongly favored adoptive parents from the same ethnic group as the child. In the meantime, religion was not considered as much of a factor, because of church-and-state issues in this country. (The mother can express a preference, but the amount of "due diligence" necessary to accommodate is a matter of fashion. There is a bit of a pendulum swing to these things.

    Anyway... we succeeded in convincing the judge that his father's African-American heritage was no more significant than his mother's Ashkenazic ethnicity. By turning this into an issue of Ashkenazic ethnicity rather than Jewish religion, we were able to make a stronger case.

    But still, given which genes are dominant, our son looks black rather than Ashkenazi. And there have been issues that arose from him being the only black kid in school.



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