How many black families are adopting white children?

We have become accustomed to seeing white parents with black and brown kids. We see them in People Magazine and standing in front of us in the grocery store line. Far more unusual, however, are black families adopting white kids. Why?

How Many Black Parents Adopt White Kids?

I posted a blog on this topic a couple of years ago and several people have asked me how common it is. Statistics on African-American parents adopting Caucasian babies or children are surprisingly hard to come by. I’ve read that 8%* of white kids in foster care are adopted by black or interracial families and 2% of adoptions in general were of black parents adopting white kids.

Caucasian families adopting black or brown kids is far more common-approximately 40% of all adoptions in the US are now interracial. Transracial adoptions (white parents/black or brown adoptee) vary by type of adoption.

  • 21% of domestic infant adoptions are transracial (although I believe this figure to be rising)
  • 28% of foster care adoptions are transracial
  • 84% of international adoptions are transracial

Most Often in Foster Care Adoption

I was unable to find good statistical evidence for this, but most often in cases that I’ve heard or read about with African-American parents adopting a white child, the child started out as the foster child of the black family or had some prior relationship with the family and was later adopted. In other words, situations where the circumstance presented itself vs. a situation where the black parents intentionally sought out a white child. As one social worker put it: black parents seldom ask for white children in general, but usually accept them in the particular.”

Black family adopts white infant
Taylor was 1 week old and in an unstable placement elsewhere when she came to Elaine Russell’s home day-care center. Two weeks later, Taylor moved in. “She was so precious and in need of a permanent home,” Russell said. “I think God put her into my hands.”

Of course, there are exceptions, such as the adoption of a Hispanic newborn by Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and his wife, Taniqua. See picture at top of blog.

Nosy Stares

Interracial adoptive families get stares, regardless if it’s black parents adopting white kids or white parents adopting black kids.

“I get looks wherever I go,” “People go, Is he yours?’ I hate that question. What difference does it make?”~ Kim Stokes, black mom to a white child.

“I’ve never felt more self-consciously black than while holding our little white girl’s hand in public.” ~  Mark Riding, a black dad to a white daughter

Nicole Richie transracial adoption
Nicole Richie (of Hispanic/Creole ethnicity) moved in with Lionel and Brenda Richie at age 3 and was adopted at age 9.

Why Aren’t More Black Families Adopting White/Hispanic Kids?

Some reasons that have been suggested for fewer blacks adopting white babies/children include:

  • There are fewer blacks families adopting in general.
  • More blacks adopt or informally obtain guardianship of children in the extended family.
  • There is a longer wait to adopt a white baby or child.
  • Depending on the agency, it may cost more to adopt a white baby.
  • Proportionately, there are more African-American children in foster care in need of families.
  • Not wanting the hassle/risk of being thought of as the nanny or kidnapper of the child.
  • Not wanting to exposure the child to prejudice and racism that black families face.
  • Hostility/questions from other blacks as to why they didn’t adopt a black child.

Do you know a black family that adopted a white child/baby? Why doesn’t this happen more often?

*I was unable to find a primary source for this statistic. If anyone finds it, please let me know.

Image credit:
Demarcus Ware and daughter: Bryaan Bazaar
laine Russell and daughter: Seattle Times
Nicole, Lionel, and Brenda Richie: Old School Music