Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
will hear expert testimony on transracial foster parenting and
adoption. The Commission will examine whether transracial foster care
and adoption serve the best interest of children, whether MEPA has been
successful, and how well the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services is enforcing the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA). Congress
enacted MEPA because of concerns that many children languished in
foster care as prospective parents of a different racial group were not
provided the opportunity to adopt them. MEPA’s broad goal is to abolish
racial discrimination for both children and prospective parents in
child welfare. MEPA, as amended, prohibits states and other entities
involved in foster care or adoption placements that receive federal
financial assistance from delaying or denying a child’s foster care or
adoptive placement on the basis of the child’s or the prospective
parent’s race, color, or national origin and requires states to
diligently recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial
and ethnic diversity of the children in the state needing foster and
adoptive homes in order for the state’s child welfare programs to
remain eligible for federal assistance. Critics of MEPA argue that
children are better able to combat discrimination and develop role
models to confront negative stereotypes when they are of the same race
as their parents. Supporters argue that transracial adoption serves the
children’s best interests. They also argue that children in transracial
adoption do as well as other children on standard measures of
self-esteem, cognitive development and educational achievement, among
speakers will include Thomas Atwood, president and CEO, National
Council for Adoption; Elizabeth Bartholet, Morris Wasserstein Public
Interest Professor of Law, Harvard School of Law; Kay Brown, acting
director, Education, Workforce and Income Security, U.S. Government
Accountability Office; Joseph Kroll, executive director, North American
Council on Adoptable Children; Ruth McRoy, senior research fellow, Evan
B. Donaldson Adoption Institute; Joan Ohl, Commissioner, Children’s
Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Professor Rita
Simon, Washington College of Law, American University; and Linda
Spears, acting senior vice president, Child Welfare League of America.
When: Friday, September 21, 2007, 9:30 a.m.
Where: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 624 Ninth Street NW, Room 540 Washington, D.C.
Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged
with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement. Members include
Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds, Vice Chairman Abigail Thernstrom, and
Commissioners Jennifer C. Braceras, Gail Heriot, Peter N. Kirsanow,
Arlan D. Melendez, Ashley L. Taylor, Jr., and Michael Yaki. Kenneth L.
Marcus is Staff Director. Commission meetings are open to the media and
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
I’m increasingly skeptical about the relevance of this debate.
It doesn’t address the root causes of racial disproportionality among children being placed into foster care. It doesn’t address the fact that the matching process is insanely fragmented and inconsistent, and that lots of informal decisions are of course still being made based on race and culture, despite what any law says. It doesn’t address the fact that even when more parents are recruited, the vast majority will give up and drop out because the system is so frustrating.