Is it OK for Black Families to Adopt Non-Black Children?

With images like Charlotte from Sex and the City adopting a baby from China and Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s adoption of a black son, it is becoming increasingly common to see white couples adopting children outside their race. However, black families adopting non-black children is almost unheard of. When it does happen, the public can be brutal. Experiencing overt criticism and public perplexity is the black, Baltimore-area Riding-Smith family who adopted an Irish American girl named Katie.

In the story published by Newsweek, the Riding-Smith family describes how they often receive confused stares and concerned looks from onlookers when they are out in public. Even when her parents are not present, Katie often gets teased at her predominantly white school, and seems to be more accepted by the black children than the white children. Whether racism or ignorance, these occurrences are common in their everyday lives. By making a concerted effort to avoid “labeling” people by their race and also celebrating both the African American and Irish American heritage of their children, the Riding-Smith family hopes to create an environment that is comfortable and inclusive for Katie.


Another story that has been in recent news is the adoption of Dallas Cowboys football player, DeMarcus Ware, and his wife, Taniqua. They adopted a Hispanic baby last year and received quite a bit of criticism from many blacks wondering why they did not adopt a black child. These stories beg the question, why is there such a double standard when it comes to trans-racial adoption? Weigh in with your comments below.



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15 responses to “Is it OK for Black Families to Adopt Non-Black Children?

  1. Elizabeth

    I’ve often wondered the same thing: why is it okay for white folks to adopt black children & not okay for black folks to adopt white children. Like the saying goes: “what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander”.

    • c

      As a black person, I feel some type of way about white people adopting black children. I feel like it is more beneficial for a child to be raised within their race; nevertheless, I rather a child be in a healthy and stable home and if that means someone outside of their race most adopt them, then so be it. I think a lot of black people don’t like to see a black couple adopt outside of the race because there are so many black children that need homes but not many black people that are able to provide homes for them. So when one of few doesn’t help the race, it raises an eyebrow. But anyway, I’m huge fan of Demarcus Ware.

  2. Nyanda

    While it is a double standard, I think the outrage comes from the fact that there are SO MANY african-american children available for adoption. These children are often overlooked by the general population who prefer to go to Africa, China & Russia…etc.. to adopt a child. The double standard may not be right, but there is some truth in the backlash.

  3. karen

    In the US the Birth Mother usually chooses the adoptive family. The adoptive family is asked what it can accept in a child and what it cannot (race, age, health, history etc). Some people have restrictions and some don’t. We (Caucasian) were open to all races and many health and background situations, and were chosen by a lovely, intelligent African American woman to be the parents of her beautiful baby girl – our daughter. Believe me, you don’t say no to such an extraordinary gift! I’m guessing the football player and his wife had a similar experience – you don’t say no because of race when someone is being so very generous in offering you their baby.

  4. Jen

    I think it is a beautiful thing when anyone gives a home to a child who needs it. It doesn’t matter what the parents look like. If the child is going to a loving and protective home that will guild the child it is better than the alternatives. The hardships some parents will face simply by loving that child is a sad affair. I hope people will look on and be happy that those parents open their hearts and homes instead of eyeing them with contempt, malice or questioning stares. I still cannot believe there are people out there who actually question anyone for caring for someone else’s child.. This african american family caring and loving a whild child and the responses they get are horrifying to me.

  5. Joy

    I intend to adopt but I do not want to adopt in the US. US adoptions are brutal and the kids are often really damaged by the time they are ready for adoption. I want to adopt a deaf child and they are more readily available in China, so to China I will go. I think it is unfair to judge anybody for adopting any child if they are giving the child a chance at a good life. Where were all these complainers when Madonna and Angelina Jolie were adopting African kids. Obviously there is a double standard. God bless anybody who will adopt any child and give them a good home.

  6. c

    Not speaking for the entire black race, but a lot of black people have a problem with white people adopting black children. It’s just that mainstream media is usually white and tends to report the news they want to report or report it the way they want to report it. As long as kids are being adopted usually trumps the race of who adopts them. I think people may be outraged at the fact there are so many black children that need to be adopted and it doesn’t help when black people aren’t even adopting them.

  7. JJ

    I personally don’t have a problem with transracial adoptions. But, that being said, I do feel that we should make more of an effort to adopt our own children.
    My husband and I are looking to adopt after 5 years of trying to conceive and I was shocked to find out that so many of our children languish in foster care that black children fall under the special needs banner. The said truth is that black children who are not adopted past age 2 are considered in some cases unadoptable. That’s appalling to me. The majority of children in foster care are there due to neglect-not drug addicted parents. They are not damaged. But they have undergone trauma from the separation from their families and just need people to give them stability and love.

    • T.

      I was a foster parent and I am an adoptive parent through the child welfare system. Many of the kids do have severe problems. Unfortunately, the case workers just want the children placed and often do not tell the adoptive parents the truth about the child. I adopted two African girls ages 6 and 12. It has been pure “hell” since day one (now it’s six years later). All I’m saying is get all the info you can and take your time adopting older children. Really get to know them. I’m involved in two counseling groups composed of parents who adopted children with severe emotional disorders. this is not an isolated case.

  8. When will this racial madness end? My husband and I are “white.” He’s Irish, I’m Italian and German. We have a sassy bio 5yr old girl and a 20mo adopted African American Puerto Rican gorgeous baby boy. ABC just profiled a story on race and adoption post the Haiti earthquake. We do and will give our son the best of everything. We want him to be exposed to his cutlure (cultures!) I disagree with the woman from the ACB news segment that “look around your table, if you don’t have friends of color, you should not adopt a child of color.” I’m para phrasing a bit but what bullocks!!!!!!! Our neighborhood is diverse and so are our thoughts! But I will say our family and our hearts are one!!!!! Children need a chance and so many are needing loving homes. That is what is most important!!!

  9. Raven

    As a Puerto Rican/West Indian woman who was adopted by A/A parents. i can personally say that love is love. no matter what color. I am married to a Caucasian man who grew up in the “system” and we plan to adopt. color is not the issue, love is. though we are looking to adopt a bi-racial child just so that there won’t be any weird looks.

  10. CB

    As a woman who has placed a baby up for adoption, I disagree with the statement about most US babies being ‘damaged’. If you are adopting a baby from ‘the system’, this might be the case, but if you are going through a proper agency you have options. When you place a baby up for adoption, they ask you many questions about who you want to adopt your baby, just as the adoptive parents are asked many questions about what they are willing to accept. They are even given the option to back out of the adoption if the child turns out to be a different race than the birth mother disclosed. A lot of it comes down to timing, urgency, and what both sides are willing to accept.

  11. LaShunon

    I think it is ok to adopt children from another race if that is what you and your husband decide to should not matter what color a child is. God made us in his own image .we is all different no 2 people is the same no matter what color you my be. you should have unconditional LOVE for that child like you gave birth to him or her. if you look back into your ancesters you have another race in you. with me and my husband being black we have decided that in the future we are going to adopt a child from another race.

  12. cindy

    i am white and my husband is black my two children are bi-racial-when strangers ask me what race are they i say human then i’m asked no where are they from i say oh earth-what all children need is love and some one to look out for them,to feel safe,have a place to call home and some to call mom or dad-to that child is doesn’t matter if everyone is the same color or parents of different sexes -male or female-we all need to feel that bond -that family- we need to get rid of race-go back to the only race that counts in this world-the human race and we only need two rules in life -to love and care about everyone and if some is in need to help.stop being so judgemental-when asked how am i raising my kids-black or white- I SAY HAPPY AND WITH ALOT OF LOVE..

    • Cindy, perhaps you mean no offense answering like that, but I think we both know that there is a good chance that your replies will be taken as dismissive and flip by saying “Human” and “Earth” when someone shows genuine interest in your baby’s heritage. Odds are these people simply were curious and meant it as a compliment – they were taken enough with your beautiful child to inquire as to his ethnicity. I agree we’re all brothers and sisters, but there are many wonderful, unique cultures, colors and ethinicities that make us different. We should celebrate and address our differences, not seek to eliminate/ignore them.

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