The National Association of Black
Social Workers has taken a vehement stand against the placement
of black children in white homes for any reason. We affirm the inviolable
position of black children in black families where they belong physically,
psychologically and culturally in order that they receive the total
sense of themselves and develop a sound projection of their future.
Ethnicity is a way of life in these United States, and the world
at large; a viable, sensitive, meaningful and legitimate societal
construct. This is no less true nor legitimate for black people
than for other ethnic groups. . . .
The socialization process for every child begins at birth and includes
his cultural heritage as an important segment of the process. In
our society, the developmental needs of Black children are significantly
different from those of white children. Black children are taught,
from an early age, highly sophisticated coping techniques to deal
with racist practices perpetrated by individuals and institutions.
These coping techniques become successfully integrated into ego
functions and can be incorporated only through the process of developing
positive identification with significant black others. Only a black
family can transmit the emotional and sensitive subtleties of perception
and reaction essential for a black child’s survival in a racist
society. Our society is distinctly black or white and characterized
by white racism at every level. We repudiate the fallacious and
fantasied reasoning of some that whites adopting black children
will alter that basic character.
We fully recognize the phenomenon of transracial adoption as an
expedient for white folk, not as an altruistic humane concern for
black children. The supply of white children for adoption has all
but vanished and adoption agencies, having always catered to middle
class whites developed an answer to their desire for parenthood
by motivating them to consider black children. This has brought
about a re-definition of some black children. Those born of black-white
alliances are no longer black as decreed by immutable law and social
custom for centuries. They are now black-white, inter-racial, bi-racial,
emphasizing the whiteness as the adoptable quality; a further subtle,
but vicious design to further diminish black and accentuate white.
We resent this high-handed arrogance and are insulted by this further
assignment of chattel status to black people. . . .
White parents of black children seek out special help with their
parenting; help with acquiring the normal and usually instinctual
parental behaviors inherent in the cultural and psychological development
of children. It is tantamount to having to be taught to do what
Special programming in learning to handle black children’s
hair, learning black culture, “trying to become black,”
puts normal family activities in the form of special family projects
to accommodate the odd member of the family. This is accentuated
by the white parents who had to prepare their neighbors
for their forthcoming black child and those who hasten, even struggle,
to make acquaintance with black persons. These actions highlight
the unnatural character of trans racial adoption, giving rise to
artificial conditions, logically lacking in substance. Superficialities
convey nothing of worth and are more damaging than helpful.
We know there are numerous alternatives to the placement of black
children with white families and challenge all agencies and organizations
to commit themselves to the basic concept of black families for
black children. With such commitment all else finds its way to successful
realization of that concept. Black families can be found when agencies
alter their requirements, methods of approach, definition of suitable
family and tackle the legal machinery to facilitate inter-state
placements. Additionally, the proposed commitment invokes the social
work profession to a re-orientation to the black family permitting
sight of the strengths therein. Exploration for resources within
a child’s biological family can reveal possibilities for permanent
planning. The extended family of grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc.
may well be viable resources if agencies will legitimize them; make
them their area for initial exploration and work first to develop
and cement their potential. This is valid and preferable even if
financial assistance is necessary.
We denounce the assertions that blacks will not adopt; we affirm
the fact that black people, in large number, can not maneuver the
obstacle course of the traditional adoption process. This process
has long been a screening out device. The emphasis on high income,
educational achievement, residential status and other accoutrements
of a white middle class life style eliminates black applicants by
The National Association of Black Social Workers asserts the conviction
that children should not remain in foster homes or institutions
when adoption can be a reality. We stand firmly, though, on conviction
that a white home is not a suitable placement for black children
and contend it is totally unnecessary.