illustrates the direct links between the origins of single
parent adoptions, African-American
adoptions, and transracial
Adoption officials in Los Angeles County, for the first time,
are seeking single persons—specifically Negroes—who
wish to adopt a child.
Since the program was approved last year, three one-parent adoptions—two
Negroes and one Caucasian—have been approved.
According to Walter A. Heath, director of adoptions for the county,
no other agency in the country has undertaken such a program. However,
there have been “unique” instances where single persons—usually
relatives—have been permitted to adopt, he said.
The “single parent” program is intended to provide
a home for “hard-to-place children.” Negro children
are hardest to place. Heath said there are 275 Negro children “growing
up in foster homes” while virtually no white children are
available for adoption.
“We want to find permanent, secure homes for all our children,”
Heath said. He added that the agency prefers placing children where
there are two parents “but one parent is better than none.”
The Child Welfare League of America, which sets national adoption
standards does “not now contemplate adoptions by unmarried
persons,” but the subject is under study, it was reported.
League approval could cause the idea to spread to other areas of
the country, thereby sharply reducing the number of unadopted Negro
“The most important qualifications to adopt,” Heath
said, “are love of children, a happy home, reasonably good
health, a good outlook and the ability to love a child not born
into the family.”
The important thing for the children, as Heath sees it, is that
they have a family of their own. He feels “it’s devastating”
to watch youngsters grow up moving in a succession of foster homes
and institutions. “We don’t want that to happen to our
kids,” he said.
Under Heath’s direction, the Los Angeles agency has placed
more Negro children than any in U.S. history. After he joined the
agency in 1952, 52 Negroes were adopted; last year 199 were given
homes. In 1965, too, 14 “part-Negro” children were adopted
by white families.
The county, said Heath, has no racial policy. “But,”
he added, “we try to give parents the kind of children they
“Most families want children who are like them.” Heath
said, to his knowledge, two children classified as white have been
adopted by Negroes.
Although he is attempting to place older children in “single
parent” homes, Heath stated that some infants will go to them.
There are 25 applicants awaiting the agency’s approval to
become parents. Most of the anxious, would-be parents are single,