Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Different Strokes for Different Folks?

When I was growing up there were a couple of popular mainstream half-hour television comedies that centered on cute black boys living with adopted white families.

There was Webster, starring Emanuelle Lewis but the most popular of the two by far was NBC's "Different Strokes" which aired from 1978 to 1985 and starred Gary Coleman as Arnold; he and his older brother Willis (played by Todd Bridges) were adopted by the wealthy Manhattan resident Mr. Drummond played by Conrad Bain. It was a funny show produced by Norman Lear that dealt with a range of complex racial themes and topics.

Recently there has been some media attention on transracial adoptions. The 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act reflects an attempt by our government to lay out Federal standards and guidelines for the adoption of children from the foster care system.

On Tuesday the Website reported that a group of leading adoption agency advocate groups urged changes in the Federal guidelines that specifically govern transracial adoptions in this country. The changes stem from a report released by the Evan B. Donaldson adoption institute, a group that lobbies to improve adoption laws and practices.

These groups are concerned that there hasn't been sufficient enforcement of amendments that strongly suggest proactive recruiting efforts to encourage "same race" parents to adopt African-American kids in order to more positively impact their cultural identity.

On average, black kids represent a higher percentage than white kids and also stay in the foster care system longer than their white counterparts - so I am led to wonder; what's more important?

A foster child having a parent, or a foster child having a parent of the same race and ethnicity? Should love be "color blind"?

Kudos to CNN for taking the lead in fostering dialogs about issues related to race and ethnicity in America.

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