Yesha Callahan

No Child Left Behind: Color Consciousness in Adopting

In 6th grade I had a very close friend named Parminder, I think we both got along because we were quiet and kept to ourselves. The one thing that always intrigued me about Parminder, was the contrast between her skin tone and hair. She had the blackest hair I had ever seen, and her skin was the color of copper. It was rare occurance for Parminder and I to see each other outside of school, but one day she invited me over to her house. When I walked into her house, I expected to see parents that looked just like her, but I saw two very blond hair and blue eyed people and that’s when it dawned on me that Parminder was adopted. Being the nosey kid I was, when I asked her about it, she told me she was from India and was adopted when she was 2 yrs old. I didn’t think anything about it until I was listening to the news these past couple of days.
In recent news, The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) has been questioned in regards to transracial adopting practices and procedures. Basically the MEPA prohibits race from being considered a factor in most decisions about adoption from foster care. Whether you’re black or white, you’ll go through the same adoption training as someone who wants to adopt a child from their own race. Statistics show that there is a larger number of minority children in the foster care system compared to white children.
Personally, I believe that it shouldn’t matter who adopts these children, as long as they’re given a chance to get out of the ‘system’, but I do feel that if a white couple does venture out to adopt a minority child, there should be some type of ‘ethnic’ & cultural sensitivity training involved. I think these children should be able to live in an environment that provides the child an opportunity to participate in positive experiences with their culture, religion, and language. A child should be able to interact with parents who have an understanding what it feels like for the child to look different from their parent and also to have a parent that has knowledge of special dietary, skin, hair, and health care needs. Although there are private organizations who take part in similiar trainings, I think this should be mandatory and State funded initiatives.
One incident in particular that I remember was how Parminder would always lotion herself up through out the day at school and she would never want to play outside when it was really sunny. When I asked her why, she always said she didn’t want to become darker and since the lotion was white, she would hope that it would change her to a lighter color, so that she could match her family. When I look back at the years of friendship I had with Parminder, I can see where her parents failed her. She wasn’t taught anything about her Indian culture, she thought because her skin was darker than her parents and sibilings that something was wrong. It wasn’t until we attended college at Rutgers University, which has a large Indian population, that she was able to learn and appreciate her culture and embrace it.


  1. May 28, 2008 - Reply

    Wow, how a child’s mind/eyes rationalizes things definitely makes you stop and think. The white lotion and avoiding the sun was deep.

  2. May 28, 2008 - Reply

    1. This reminds me of Losing Isaiah. When the older sister puts his hand next to hers and she’s like, do you see a difference and he’s like… Yeah, yours is big and mine is little. *Sigh*

    2. I agree with what you say here. I was watching this PBS documentary “Daddy and Papa” is what I think it was called about gay men who adopt the children no one wants (usually black children) and they were talking about how important it was to them to make sure their children knew black people, interacted with black people, etc.

  3. May 31, 2008 - Reply

    This reminds me of a lady on youtube I watch all the time. I was literally shocked the first time I saw her I was in awe. This white women does tutorials on how to care for black hair. She has two adopted daughters who are african american. I was literally shocked when I stumbled upon the video.

    She was doing stuff I didn’t know how to do, in one of the videos she explained during the adoption process they took all these classes so that they could relate to their adoptive daughters and give them a part of their culture. I really think that is important to do. So many children in the system are African American.

    From what I understand while people here tend to not want black children, even black people (when the few black people adopt, many times they prefer biracial and lighter skinned kids, crazy I know), people from Europe come over here to adopt. I find that just so crazy.

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