April 21, 2019

It was an emotional evening for me watching the movie, “I Am Somebody’s Child:  The Regina Louise Story” about one black girl who suffered through 30 foster homes and years in a psych ward before the age of 18.  By the power vested in authorities, she was denied the right to be adopted by a social worker who loved her.  Why?  Because the social worker was white, and Regina Louise was black.

How could I not be brought back emotionally to my early 20s as a social worker for foster children in the care of the state of Massachusetts?  I had also loved a mixed racial toddler who I was determined to adopt if I could not find a permanent family for him.  In those days when babies were preferred, 3 years old was “over the hill” for adoption, especially when there were so few black or mixed families adopting children.

I did in fact manage to place him in a foster family with a white mother and a black father who, after 4 years, would be allowed to adopt him.  Although I moved away before that time, I kept in touch with the mother until she confirmed that the 4 years had passed and he would be legally adopted.  Whew!  He would not have to suffer through the all too often string of foster homes that foster children, like Regina, had to endure.  I finally was able to say goodbye, and wished the family well.

But I never forgot that beautiful toddler who captured my heart.  So, a few years later, when it came time to become parents,  my husband and I applied to adopt what was then called a “hard to place” child.  We did not specifically request a mixed black child, but these were the majority of the children who were lingering long waiting for an adoptive home.

The quirk of timing put us into a very small window of opportunity when California began transracial adoptions — mostly white families adopting black and mixed black children.  We quickly became parents of a beautiful honey colored 16 month old toddler of our own.

Not too long afterward, the black social workers of California fought transracial black/white adoptions and brought them to an abrupt end.  Why?  The black social workers said that white people were not capable of properly giving black children a black identity.   They compared  it to “genocide.”

Many years later, in yet another quirk of circumstance, I was living in a retirement community in California where I met a black social worker who had been one of the movers of bringing transracial adoptions to an end.  To this day, she insists that it was the right decision because white people are not capable of giving their black adopted children a sense of black identity.

For better or worse, the times and law did change so that transracial adoptions once again became possible.  And, already more than 40 when they found one another again, black Regina Louise was finally legally adopted by the white woman who had never stopped loving her.

 

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