Why Do White Celebrities Adopt Black Babies?

May 30, 2010  |  

Adopting a child is such a generous thing to do, it seems like it would be hard to knock anyone who has done so. But an interesting thing happens when white celebrities adopt black babies…

In the midst of her messy divorce from Jesse James, the Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock announced that she had adopted baby Louis, the most adorable African-American three-month-old boy, a native of New Orleans.

Most of the reaction to the adoption was positive and Bullock was praised for adopting an American child (unlike Madonna and Angelina Jolie, I suppose). On the other side of the fence were people who wondered about the timing and, gasp, motives behind the adoption. Was the adoption a way to distract the public from the fact that her marriage was a sham and blasted on every tabloid cover? Was it a way to squash any thought that her husband — previously photographed dressed up in Nazi garb — is a racist? Others questioned why did Bullock choose to adopt an African-American child.

In an exclusive interview, she told People magazine that the adoption process actually started four years ago. Bullock said she and James sought to pull no strings as they submitted to the typically time-consuming screening process, with no thoughts to the gender or background of the child they might receive.”We somehow knew the right little person would come,” Bullock said.

In her article, “Sandra Bullock, Transracial Adoption and the Worship of White Motherhood,” Whitney Teal expresses that black family homes are, ironically, not always the first choice to place black babies. Lisa Marie Rollins, head of the Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora echos this concern. Rollins told CNN, “…it has to do with the preservation of black families and the circumstances that allow black children to be put up for adoption. The reason why you are seeing some of this anger around [whites adopting black babies] is because I think that there are African-American families that are available but the social welfare system isn’t really set up for them to adopt black children or kinship. If there are aunts of uncles or extended family members who are available  there’s not financial resources for them.”

Psychologist Wendy Walsh, a white woman with biracial children, expressed that adoptions are color-blind. “Thank goodness that these liberal, progressive, wealthy people are able to take any child in need,” said Walsh. “Race doesn’t matter in adoption and adoptive parents go into the process understanding that “you get what you get’.”

Rollins disagreed. “Race really does matter. I hear constant stories…where [the adopted children] are isolated from the black community and called names. There’s an assumption that the only option to a loving white home is foster care, when there are actually multiple options.”

About 26 percent of the black children adopted in the United States go to white families, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. About eight percent of white children in public custody were adopted by black or interracial couples in 2004, the latest year available.

When white children are adopted by black parents — at least in Hollywood — there’s not much fuss. Teal, in her article also says:

“I’ve never read anything about African-American Lionel Richie and his African-American wife “saving” white-Latino Nicole Richie when they adopted her. And where’s the praise for Seal, an African man who is raising a European man’s child (Heidi Klum’s eldest Leni)? Those adopters are merely parents while Bullock, and other white women who have adopted black children like Madonna, Angelina Jolie, and Jolie Fisher, are saints, worthy of our praise.”

Is it fair to say that the latest fashion accessory for white celebrities in America seems to be a beautiful black baby?

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