This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

By Sherri Kolade

Thousands of babies, children and teens are left waiting for a loving family to go home to.  

And their call is heard — every year 50,000 children are adopted in the United States.   

Twenty-eight percent of adoptions in the country are transracial adoptions (or having a parent and adopted child of a different race), according to https://www.lifelongadoptions.com/.  

Married couples make up 73 percent of total adoptions while single females are adopting at a rate of 20.5 percent and single male parents total 6.5 percent, according to statistics.  

According to https://creatingafamily.org/, about 40 percent of adoptions are interracial or transracial adoptions (with white parents/Black or Brown adoptee) varying by type of adoption. 

Black men are also making up part of these statistics and not just in the United States.  

According to a bbc.com, article, Transracial Adoption: I’ve Been Accused of Kidnapping my White Child,’ one man, Peter Mutabazi of Charlotte, NC, adopted two white children and was walking with one of them who happened to have a tantrum one day. As he carried his disgruntled son, Anthony, to his car, the pair drew the attention of curious onlookers who took things a step too far.  

One woman called the police on him accusing him of kidnapping a “little white kid.” Another time, Mutabazi was stopped by guards who tried to prevent him and his son from leaving with each other.  

“I’m your dad and I love you, but people who look like me, we aren’t always treated well,” he told his son. “Your job is not to get angry at the people who treat me this way, your job is to make sure you treat people who look like me with [honor].”  

According to Ohio-based Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth (SAFY), more than one-third of Americans have considered adoption, although only two percent have actually adopted a child. Presently, according to SAFY, there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Another 135,000 children are adopted annually in the country. According to SAFY statistics for those in the child welfare system include:  

  • Males far outnumber females  
  • Black children are disproportionately represented  
  • Over half are six years or older  
  • The average age of a child waiting for adoption is eight years old  
  • 29 percent of adopted children will spend at least three years in the foster care system 

Some Black children are never given a first chance, according to a 2019 article from pri.org. Social workers are often called upon to “assess” a newborn’s skin color, because skin color can be a deciding factor in potential for placement, according to the article, which also revealed from an NPR investigation that dark-skinned Black children cost less to adopt than light-skinned white children. They are, oftentimes, ranked by social workers and the public as less preferred, the article stated.  

“In the adoption market, race and color combine to create another preference hierarchy: white children are preferred over nonwhite,” Washington University law school professor Kimberly Jade Norwood said in the article. “When African American children are considered, the data suggest there is a preference for light skin and biracial children over dark-skinned children.”  

Horace Sheffield III, pastor and media personality, told the Michigan Chronicle that while the topic of adoption is important, he also stresses the importance of Black fathers being there for their biological children, also – even if they might not be with the mother of their child(ren.)  

Horace Shefield III talks adoption and mentorship in Detroit. Photograph courtesy of DABO.   

“The child suffers whether you are good with the mom or not,” Sheffield said. “Your responsibility is still there.”  

Sheffield said that he has seen the impact of how Black men mentor children and youth and how it has made a significant impact.  

“Black men take up the slack for fathers who are missing in the lives of other young men,” he said. “My grandfather mentored a young boy out of Brewster projects when I was a child. I knew that man for my whole life. You don’t have a lot of that … we got to do more.”  

Sheffield added that Black men in Detroit who value mentoring and even emotionally adopting children as their own, through mentorship and the like, are on the right track.  

“I’ve had alternative schools — run all kinds of programs for older youth,” Sheffield said. “I’ve been very involved in the years in this kind of regard mentoring young men and being available to them … and trying to help them overcome some of the things that tend to be cumbersome or a hardship.”