Because of what happened with Uganda, Rich and I have been doing a lot of research into domestic adoption. Part of me is excited, and part of me is just nervous; the same issues that pushed me into international adoption still exist. But you know what? I’m more willing to deal with them, because at least in the United States you get 100% transparency. You know what the child has been through; you know where their parents are and what happened to remove them from their care; you know that they have not been trafficked. But something came to my attention as I did my research- something that no one seems to talk about, because, you know, it might be uncomfortable.
Do me a favor and define the words “Special Needs” in your mind. What do you see? A child with down syndrome? A child with cerebral palsy? A child with a host of other medical issues? Yes, those can all be defined as special needs. A speech impediment? Maybe, depending on the severity. Cleft palate? Yes, that would count. Autism? In many cases, yes. Do you know what I bet you do NOT see?
In the state of North Carolina, a healthy African American boy is considered a special needs child. And before all you out-of-staters get on your high horse, I’ve got news for you. A healthy African American boy is considered a special needs child in ALL. 50. STATES.
Let’s break this down.
According to Merriam Webster, “special needs” is defined as this:
noun 1. (in the context of children at school) particular educational requirements resulting from learning difficulties, physical disability, or emotional and behavioral difficulties.
I just want you to give me one good reason that a healthy, thriving African American boy (who is in foster care from no fault of his own) would be classified as a “special needs” child. An answer that does not skirt the murky waters of racism. Go ahead and try it.
On the website for the department of social services, there are four groups listed as children that desperately NEED homes.
- Children with physical, mental, and emotional difficulties. Okay, I can see that. A lot of people are not financially or mentally prepared for that kind of commitment.
- Sibling Groups. Again, makes sense. A lot of people simply do not have the room for more than one child.
- Teenagers. I hate to say it, but I can understand this as well. People are afraid that these children are too old to bond with them.
- Minority children, especially African American males. The first part of this can be explained to an extent. There are simply many more African American children within the foster care system, comparatively speaking. For those who want to check those facts, click here. But African American males. Why is that? Is it simply a gender thing? Statistically, a healthy white boy and a healthy white girl of the same age have an equal chance of being adopted. Not to mention this was talked about by my agency when we were in the process of international adoption- MALE African babies were much less likely to be adopted than females.
Deep down I want you to be honest with yourself. I’m talking to you, fellow white people. Who would you trust more, if they came to your door?
Or this guy?
I know a few of you will say that’s an unfair question. Or that you wouldn’t trust either one of them. Or that you wouldn’t trust one over the other. But I’m willing to bet a lot of you would trust the white guy more. He looks like you. He talks like you. You get him. Statistically, a white guy is less likely to be a criminal. After all, “while people of color make up about 30% of of the US population, they account for 60% of those imprisoned.” Just let those statistics comfort you; it’s not racism on YOUR part…it’s just statistically accurate. Never mind the reasons behind these statistics
– that’s not your concern.
You know what I think? I think that African American boys are not valued in this society. I think these little undervalued boys turn into grown men that society has stereotyped and deemed less desirable than white boys from the minute they were born. They are born fighting an uphill battle- proving to the world that they are valuable. That they will not turn into another statistic. That they are capable of anything they set their minds to. That they can be just as good of a son as that white kid on that waiting child page. Can anyone blame them for being tired of that crap? For constantly feeling like they have something to prove?
I know this kind of thing makes some of you uncomfortable, but we need to talk about why a young boy can be labeled a problem child based on the color of his skin. Statistically, are there more black 5-year-olds in prison than there are white 5-year-olds? Are there more drug dealing black little boys than white little boys? No? That’s crazy, right? Children don’t go to prison. Children don’t do drugs.
So stop treating African American boys like they will, America.
That is all.