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The Adoption Race

When the boys in my comprehensive school met me they labelled me “Paki”. They never asked me where I was from and never discovered that I am half Sri Lankan Tamil, a quarter Irish and a quarter Assamese Indian. They were not color blind – they saw my colour and judged me on that and that alone. My sense of humour, my academic gifts, my personality, my character didn’t even get a look in. I was rejected because I didn’t fit their acceptable ethnic criteria.

When my wife and I applied to be adoptive parents ten years ago we faced similar discrimination. On the initial inquiry phone call we were asked about our ethnic make up. We were told that we would be suitable adoptive parents only to a child who had a similar British, Irish, Indian and Sri-Lankan mix. Since there were none in the borough they politely turned us down. The system did not look at any of our parenting abilities, or whether we were practically and emotionally able to provide a loving home to a child. We were rejected because of colour.

There are currently 4000 children waiting to be adopted in the UK. Many of these have been waiting for their whole lives for a loving and secure home. But it continues to be suggested that blinded by colour, we should disqualify parents who want to love and care for some of our nations most vulnerable and needy children.

The Prime Minister rightly recognises that it is better to give a child a safe and loving home than leave them waiting indefinitely for an exact ethnic match. This stance does not reduce the importance of ethnicity and identity, but affirms the fact that acceptance trumps colour.

 

Currently thousands of children are losing their childhoods, losing their abilities to form meaningful attachments and losing the chance for education. Our prison system is being filled up with young people who have been spat out the other end of the care system. We urgently need to recruit more adoptive carers (not to mention the 8000 place hole in the fostering system) from across the ethnic spectrum. We will not be able to match each child according to their ethnic background but that should not mean we have to leave these children without loving parents. What these children need are parents who will love them unconditionally to the best of their ability.

 

My wife and I are now both adoptive parents and foster parents with a wonderfully multicultural family. Our family get-togethers celebrate our cultural heritages from India, the Caribbean, Malaysia and North Africa. Respectful of cultural backgrounds, we have fostered across religious borders, and we have cared for a child with disabilities that many in society would reject.

 

In Britain today we no long judge people by the colour of their skin. And it’s no longer taboo or even unusual to marry inter-racially. Surely it’s high time we found children loving homes regardless of the parents’ ethnic background?

6 thoughts on “The Adoption Race”

  1. Thanks for your post Krish. I had a conversation with our adopted daugter’s social worker this week about the government’s new initiative and she said the pressure is on finding families to be prospective adopters/foster carers.

    So many people have come up to us over the last couple of weeks to congratulate us on our new addition and then they go on to say ‘I would love to adopt/foster but …” and then reasons (excuses?) come out.

    Maybe we should be promoting stories from people who have been adopted about how their lives have been turned around by being part of a loving & stable family and also from families who adopt on how their lives have been enriched (ours has already and she’s only been with us a week!)

    There are so many people in the church who adopt & foster or have been. Maybe we should be gathering them together to tell their story and challenging more Christians to do it.

  2. I would love to adopt a child of any race, age or whatever. The main stumbling block in our family is my wife who is a depute head in a primary school.

    All of her experiences in dealing with adopted children at work has been negative and this prompts her to reject the idea.

    I would love to hear of stories promoting adoption and emphasising on the positives.

  3. Great to hear Krish.

    My Dad is adopted and my sister is adopted. We need more. It is said that early Christians were known for their large families – many adopting babies who were left out to die – since the Roman philosophy of the day was that if ‘the gods wanted them to live they would…’ In so doing these Christ-followers showed a radically different approach to life. I think that most of us resist adoption because we have bought into comfort game – another mouth to feed (and send to college) means less for me. I want my gadgets and I want the newest version…or else. But what wonderful opportunities there are to trust God when we see our needs being fulfilled by His providential care.

  4. Good on ya. We do have the ethnic thing here with our Ukrainian kids. We are all white, but a lot of things in their culture is different. I had an American friend who started telling the children off for not using a knife and fork. She could not understand that Len and I sided with the children and not her, the Ukrainian way is to eat with a fork, spear the food and chew round it. She kept saying that they should use a knife, I kept saying no, they are Ukrainian, living in ukraine, they eat their way. it is probably a heck of a lot worse in your case as it is more obvious, but if only people would realise you don’t have to be Indian to teach a child how to be an Indian, or any other ethnic culture.

    In some areas in UK they are nervous of taking on Christians as carers, I know of at least one case there someone was turned down. Over here it is a plus.

  5. Hi Krish,
    You probably know that Caroline and I became foster parents last year. Like you, we have been amazed at the way people are categorised by race (whatever ‘race’ is!). Initially we were going to be approved for white children aged 0-3, but we objected and thankfully it is now all children aged 0-3, but when it comes to placements it seems that age+race is the defining issue.

    One day I’d love to ask whether Social Services ask parents if the child has been baptised. Because, of course, baptism signifies an identity that trumps all others. So – playing by their philosophy – baptised children should only be placed with Christian families. Somehow I don’t think they’d agree with me…
    Tim.

    1. It’s more likely to stop you fostering than helping. When my granddaugter was taken into care (won’t go into details) I was rung up to ask if we would take her. i asked if they realised we didn’t live in Uk and if that was OK, yes we’d take her. Stupid Social Worker had dialed an international number but then asked ‘Oh aren’t you. Where do you live then.’ She then spoke as if she had a bad taste in her mouth ‘I understand you’re … missionaries.’

      My niece, who is approved for fostering in Uk was then asked to take her, again she agreed. When the Social Worker went to see her, she realised that my niece and her husband were junior Salvation Army officers. She was then asked what she would do if my granddaugher didn’t want to go to church. My niece, being my niece said ‘Tha’s Ok, she doesn’t have to come with us. I’ll just chain her to the bed while we’re gone so she can’t hurt herself.’ She didn’t get her either.

      My the way, there were two Social Workers involved and neither had children.

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