Two and a half years ago a committee
of Minnesota social workers decided to promote the adoption of Negro
children by white families. This decision, however, was made with
misgiving, since it represented a sharp break with traditional philosophy
and practice and opened the door to potential problems foreign to
the adoption service. None of the committee members could consider
himself an expert on Negro-white placements. Indeed, the usual “review
of the literature” failed to produce even a mention of the
Yet today it appears that much of the misgiving was unnecessary.
Placements have been made and contemplated problems did not occur,
while the concept of Negro-white adoptions has gained relatively
wide acceptance, publicly and professionally. To date some twenty
Negro children have been successfully placed with white families.
These placements have been made by seven of Minnesota’s thirteen
private agencies as well as the Department of Welfare in conjunction
with several county welfare departments. Given an opportunity, at
least some of the remaining agencies would be willing to undertake
similar placements. While not all agencies can be classified as
ardent supporters, there has been no attempt to curtail the promotion
of Negro-white adoptions.
With few exceptions, the children placed are youngsters readily
identifiable as Negro. Although most have light complexions, there
is no policy—official or otherwise—on pigmentation.
It so happens that Minnesota’s Negro population includes only
a small percentage of very dark-skinned persons—a fact that
is reinforced by the group of children available for adoption. Actually,
the degree of color was not (and currently is not) an issue in Minnesota’s
Negro-white adoption program. The author knows of only one situation
in which it arose: a worker decided against placing a particular
child with one white family because “The child is too light,
my family wants a Negro child.”
Minnesota’s new program was the result of happenstance. Several
years ago Minnesota’s adoption agencies initiated a united
publicity campaign designed to publicize the need for adoptive homes
for Indian, Mexican, and particularly Negro children. The emphasis
on Negro children resulted from the well-known fact that homes for
this group are in shortest supply.
When the campaign was planned, no thought was given to the possibility—much
less the practicality—of recruiting white homes for Negro
youngsters. Composed of representatives of various agencies, the
campaign committee naturally assumed that white couples would apply
for Indian and Mexican youngsters, and Negro couples would apply
for Negro youngsters. Several months after the campaign began, however,
this assumption was disproved when a few white families applied
for Negro children.