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Two black men, both of whom are former employees of the Women's Christian Alliance Foster Care Agency in Philadelphia, claim they were fired for recommending that a white, married couple adopt a black child.
Akeem Dixon, a former recruiter, and Randolph Sanders, a former intake supervisor, filed a federal lawsuit last week against the Women's Christian Alliance (WCA) Foster Care Agency, which contracts with the city Department of Human Services.
 

The 2-year old child was in the care of a single black foster mother, and his placement goal was changed to "adoption".
 

Dixon and Sanders identified a white Philadelphia couple as pre-adoptive parents for the black child. Over the next few months, agency representatives visited the couple's home and the boy stayed with the couple on weekends.
The wife, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Angela, said she fell in love with the toddler "the second I knew he was out there."
"From that moment on it was the feeling of, 'This is our child,' " she said.

Angela's home apparently received glowing reviews from WCA, but after a DHS supervisor visited the home, the problems started.  The supervisor asked her how she plans on raising a black man.  Her answer, "the same way I would a white man", apparently did not go over well.  I can actually see both sides of that one, based on that answer.  That is, however, just one piece of the case file.  A week after the supervisor's visit, the child visitation stopped, and the organization stopped contacting them.

The suit claims WCA followed orders from DHS, ended the adoption with the white couple and subsequently fired Dixon and Sanders because they supported the couple as adoptive parents.
Philadelphia's DHS claims it has a no discrimination policy and that "race is not a factor" in choosing the family.
 

Angela, however, disagrees. "I wish people would just stop being so afraid of race. You're black. I'm white. Yes. There's a kid that needs a home. Let's just move on."
 

I found this story to be quite interesting.  Certainly there are matters of one's racial indentity and pride in one's heritage, and a white family needs to know these things; but to make snap judgments and then fire the workers for doing their jobs?
 

Originally posted to The Antidote To Ayn Rand on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, and RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:17:27 AM PDT

  •  WTF! (6+ / 0-)

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:22:08 AM PDT

  •  Sorry in advance for any typos! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avilyn

    I have to type out diaries commando style:  fast and furious, on borrowed time, on a borrowed computer).

    (My normal browser cannot handle shite beyond posting comments with plain font.  Thus, I can almost never rec anything or make edits the way I want to).

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:31:55 AM PDT

  •  Hmmmm.... (21+ / 0-)
    Angela's home apparently received glowing reviews from WCA, but after a DHS supervisor visited the home, the problems started.  The supervisor asked her how she plans on raising a black man.  Her answer, "the same way I would a white man", apparently did not go over well.
    How else could she have answered that question?

    If she says she wouldn't treat the child any different from how she would raise a white child, she's basically being black-balled for being culturally insensitive. If she had said she would treat him differently based on cultural differences, she's admitting to a bias in how she looks at responds to children of different races.

    That seems like a no-win situation no matter how she answered given the alleged attitude of the supervisor in the case.

    •  I think that supervisor had the agenda, and (6+ / 0-)

      got what he/she wanted.

      Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

      by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:51:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not that easy (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, the adoptive parents need to recognize they may need to do some things differently with a child of a different race. If the discussion was as abrupt as the story seems, the DHS worker was out of line for not allowing the prospective mom to elaborate on that issue. However, if the opportunity was given, and the prospective mom stuck with the clueless answer, and no more than that, then doubts about suitability were appropriate.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:26:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What should they do differently? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy
        •  A variety of things (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ExpatGirl

          A few examples.
          Being mindful that their lives include role models that "look like" the child, which could mean choosing an integrated neighborhood, finding and including black friends in their social circles, attending festivals or entertainment events that highlight AA culture, etc. There's a diary on the rec list right now about white privilege, and how children of color are taught particular attitudes and behaviors in contacts with law enforcment. Black parents know about that already, white parents have to come to know.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:42:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's not raising a child 'differently' (5+ / 0-)

            to a white child.

            I am a white mother to five black males ranging in age from 13 to 26. I considered everything you mention to be normal PARENTING.

            Whites in my position learn fast enough the that world is a different place for other races.

            The original question was offensive and combative. I'm quite sure that the hopeful mother meant that she would love that child with all her heart and do the best for him that she possibly could.

            •  You consider it normal parenting (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ExpatGirl

              And more power to you. We don't know what the potential adoptive mom thinks, though. We know only one question she was asked, and one brief response she made. If that alone is all there was, then she might not have learned fast enough that the world is different for other races. On the other hand, there might have been considerably more back and forth between the worker and the mother that could have illuminated the thinking of either side. If so, we don't know what it included.

              “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

              by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:05:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You've got a point (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catte Nappe, myboo, asym, Cassandra Waites

                and after I hit send I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the potential parent in question. I made and assumption and ran with it.

                It took a lot of effort to make sure my children had regular exposure to strong black male role models. It was all the more difficult because we were in South Africa and the legacy of Apartheid is still strong in the Cape Town townships. I wanted my children to understand that the life of desperation they had viewed as normal, wasn't, it was engineered. It took a long time for some of my older children to transition their thinking from a 'survival' POV to a 'building for the life I want' POV.

                There aren't nearly enough movies or TV shows with strong black male role models or strong black family units. Making sure your child isn't constantly bombarded by ugly racial stereotypes in entertainment often means taking the time to watch things before they do. I was constantly vigilant about anything that I felt carried subtly degrading messages. I don't enjoy the townships (not safe!) but spent time their anyway to keep the connection strong. I support traditional coming of age practices (even though I hate them, if you know what I mean). Picking subjects for school projects can be a much longer process when the goal is also to build on pride in being black. I asked non-white male employees I admired to spend time mentoring and answering questions. The list goes on.

                I was wrong in my original statement. There is a lot a parent of white children gets to take for granted. Thanks for coming back to me on it.

                •  erg. "spent time THERE" (0+ / 0-)
                •  Very graciously stated rethinking (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ExpatGirl, asym, Cassandra Waites

                  And it seems you did, in fact, have to do some things very differently to be the best parent you could for your children. To some degree every parent probably does go places and do things that wouldn't be their choice as they nurture a childs interest in sports or music or dance or science or..... But it does seem to me that it's got to be more consciously intentional for a parent raising a child from a different race and/or culture.

                  “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

                  by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:51:14 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  ALL children should also be exposed to (3+ / 0-)

            people of color as role models, should participate in integrated communities, and should attend events that highlight other cultures.

            w/re law enforcement contacts, again I think it would be instructive for ALL children to learn about racial bias/animus in the law enforcement community, and more generally throughout our culture.

            In other words, saying "the same way I would a white man" may well be a completely appropriate response, assuming the parent would raise a white child in a culturally-aware, loving and nuturing home.

            •  It's a fine ideal (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ExpatGirl

              But the assummption can't be made that the parent being screened would take that approach, unless she were to explain her response accordingly.

              “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

              by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:01:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Is the answer so clueless? By saying she would do (5+ / 0-)

        it the same, wouldn't teaching a child about their cultural heritage fall under the umbrella of normal parenting?

        "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

        by MRA NY on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:46:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily (0+ / 0-)

          In some respects teaching about one's own cultural heritage comes naturally, through family traditions, conversations with extended family, involvement in one's community, etc. Teaching about another culture first requires that one knows there is going to have to be some additional effort, admitting one needs to learn some things about that culture oneself, and having a more intentional strategy for teaching the child.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:47:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's a child (18+ / 0-)

    When I was in the process of adopting my second child from Vietnam in the late 1990s, I met a women in her 40s who herself had been adopted as an infant from China by a white family in the US.  She was also in the process of adopting a daughter from Vietnam.  We had several days together as we went through the adoption paperwork, and had several interesting discussions about cross-racial adoptions.  

    I have always remembered the story she told me.  When she was a child and through into her latter 20s, she had no interest in her Chinese heritage and resented anyone trying to thrust her Chinese background on her.  She was a kid and then a young women figuring out who she was in her family and what she wanted her life to be.  Only in her latter 20s did she start to gain interest in her Chinese heritage and begin to explore those roots.

    The advice she gave to me, which I have followed, was to let the child lead.  If the child is interested in and wants to explore an ethnic or racial background, be ready to encourage him or her and provide opportunities.  If the child does not, don't try to force someone else's version of whom the child should be on to the child.  It a child first, and then some race or ethnicity afterwards.

     

  •  You missed a key element in the story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk
    ...days before the placement of the boy in the couple's home, the child's foster care mother, who had never expressed interest in adopting him before, said she would consider adoption.

    "Because ... a Black female expressed interest in adopting Child X, also black, DHS withdrew its support of the adoption of Child X by ... a White family

    There has been a long, and vigorous, debate among professionals in child welfare fields about the importance (or not) of matching children with adoptive parents of the same race. This belated "offer" from the foster mother would have further complicated any such discussion at DHS or in the agency.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:21:11 AM PDT

    •  I understand the complications. My (AA) wife & I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      go back and forth on that topic quite a bit.

      Certainly, in writing, their policy HAS to be non-discriminatory; however, they must find suitable homes.  I see how a suitable home to raise a black child must include a sense of that child's identity, and a sense of pride in who he is.

      It is a delicate balance, but a ham-fisted move in this instance.

      Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

      by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:39:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One nit: (0+ / 0-)

        You don't need to write "black child" because a suitable home for any child would include the criteria you mention. In the context of this story it's unfair to suggest even in the slightest that the couple would not have provided a suitable environment for a child of a different race.

        •  I needed to write black child because I was (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe

          talking about what my wife and I often discuss....and that is it.  My wife is extremely sensitive to all races and religions, but being AA herself, and knowing her peoples' history in this country, often bristles at the notion of other races and white women having struggled to the degree that AA's have.  That is her opinion, and I take it strongly, while forming my own.

          I am not suggesting that they would not have provided a suitable environment.  I am merely trying to state that my own wife felt that woman's answer revealed a good heart, but the need for some education....which we feel she would have gotten, BECAUSE she has a good heart and wants what is best for the child.

          This topic is not something to be brushed over quickly and indelicately, and that is exactly what the outcome was in this case.

          Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

          by Floyd Blue on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:03:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My problem with this is that everyone is assuming (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, ExpatGirl

            that raising the child 'the same way' precludes providing that child with a sense of their cultural heritage,.

            "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

            by MRA NY on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:17:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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