Call me cynical

Many of you who are up to date on adoption discourse know that there are many similarities between the language used to promote and discuss animal/pet adoption and the adoption of human children. When I Google "adoption" for my Adoption Gazette blog, I get as many results for animal adoptions as I do for child adoptions.

So imagine my surprise when I came across this news item and instantly thought about our foster care system in the United States. Since the majority of the youth in foster care who have a permanency goal of adoption are African American or bi-racial African American, and since we offer financial incentives for prospective parents to adopt children from foster care, the headline of this article definitely caught my attention.

Adoption specials for black-colored dogs, cats

07:53 PM MST on Tuesday, September 4, 2007

By Alicia Barrón, Fox 11 News


A local pet adoption center
will be offering discounts on black-colored dogs and cats of all ages
throughout the month of September.

A news release from
the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) say there is a
predominance of black pets at their shelter, as they are chosen less by
individuals looking to adopt a companion.

Staff at HSSA decided to support this promotion with the theme, “Swift as a Ninja, we sneak into your heart!”    

From now until September 15th, black cats, kittens and mixed breed dogs and puppies will be available for adoption at half price.   

Read the rest of the article here

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

3 thoughts

  1. We had this highlighted in our local papers at the beginning of the summer. One comment was that black cats were more adoptable around halloween. Sad huh? I personally don’t like adoption to be applied to animals.

  2. Hi,
    I am the mother of a daughter adopted from China. I have found your blog interesting. Another adoptive parent mentioned it in a yahoo group concerned with creating adoption lifebooks for our daughters.
    In regards to this post about adoption and color, when we first started looking into adoption, we contacted a large agency out of Texas that coordinates both domestic and international adoptions. They have lots of different international programs based on country, but they have three different domestic programs. They are (from their website):
    -The Agency Assisted Program places Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American infants and toddlers with loving adoptive families.
    -The ABC (African-American or biracial child) Program places African-American and biracial infants and toddlers eagerly awaiting the love and security of a forever family.
    -Through the New Beginnings Program, we actively recruit families who are accepting of older children who are available for adoption through the State of Texas Foster Care Program, as well as children born with special medical needs.
    The big difference between the programs is that the fees for first program are quite high (much more than for our international adoption) while the ones for the other two programs are much lower.
    In the end, we chose international adoption and used a China-specific agency run by a Chinese national, but this agnecy’s programs are an example of what you were talking about. What they give is the reason is that they have maternity homes for birthmothers and also provide living expenses for birthmothers and the costs are the same whether the birthmother is caucasian or not. So, they basically charge more for caucasian adoption in order to subsidize the ABC program.
    Another example is that the fees to adopt from Eastern Europe or Latin America are much higher than to adopt from countries in Asia/Africa. For us, our primary concern was the process being well-organized and that our daughter be relatively young and healthy and that is why we chose China. But, I guess race is significant enough for some people that they would only adopt a domestic white infant or one from Eastern Europe.
    In case it matters, we chose not to adopt from the US foster care system as their are no infants/babies/toddlers available for adoption and we were not willing to take the risk of losing a child in a foster-to-adopt situation. Since we were infertile, our desire was to parent a child from infancy. Perhaps that is viewed as self-centered, but I don’t see too many fertile people choosing not to have birth children and instead adopt older foster kids.
    Our daughter has been home over a year now. We are very lucky in that she is a wonderful child, very happy, intelligent, and full of life. We attribute a lot of that to the care of her foster mother in China. She lived in a foster-care situation in China and thus didn’t have any of the medical or developmental issues that some of the children have that are in orphanages. She also was very well-attached to her foster mom and so we did have a grieving period for a few days when we first received her, but because of that good start, she was able to bond to us quickly. The Social Welfare Institute (SWI, what China calls the homes for both orphans and the elderly) in her town tries to place all as many children as possible in foster care as they realize that is beneficial for the children. We do keep in touch with her foster parents by mail and email and send them photos of her as she grows. Since she was abandoned, this is the closed thing she has to a “Chinese family” so we want to try to keep a relationship with them for her to have as she gets older.
    She does attend a preschool program at our local Saturday-morning Chinese school. While it is unlikely she will acquire Mandarin from that limited exposure, it does give her the opportunity to interact with other Chinese-American children, both those from Chinese families and adopted like her. We are also active in FCC (Families with Children from China) activities in our area.
    I find the views of older adoptees of interest, so that maybe we can do more to help our children adapt to and accept their situation. I do know that the life our daughter has here is better than the one she would have had growing up in a SWI in China. Since her birth parents abandoned her and she is a girl and thus not preferred for adoption by a family in China, she didn’t have the option of growing up in a family in China. She has lost her native Chinese culture (just as any Chinese family that comes to American and raises kids here does) but she has gained a family that loves and cherishes her.

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