a dream deferred

I've been looking forward to this week for a while now, when our country will usher in an African American president and change the landscape, widening the dreams for all children. I know tomorrow Mark and I will watch Martin Luther King historic speech , our yearly tradition, and reflect on the signficance of Dr. King's dreams being closer and closer to fulfilled.

But today I also have a dream, and some disappointment that makes this time bittersweet.

This week, Mark and I learned that a young boy a few months older than Jafta is still in need of an adoptive family. We've known him for a long time through our agency in East LA, and he is a sweet boy who I desperately want to see in an adoptive home. He has been passed through 4 foster families this year. When I heard he still didn't have a permanent home, I decided to call the social worker at the local agency we used. It's the biggest foster family agency in Orange County, and they only accept Christian couples. I thought surely a phone call could help identify a few potential families.

"I'm sorry", I'm told. "We have no famliies right now who are open to an African American child".


I know adoption is not for everyone. I know transracial adoption is not for everyone. But in a large agency full of Christian couples ready to open their homes to a child . . .

not one couple checked "open to any race"???

I know I talk a lot about adoption, but this is not just an adoption issue. This is not something only transracially adoptive families should be bummed about. This should give all of us pause about the state of our nation, and the prejudices that still have a hold on us. Shouldn't we all be unsettled that "the least of these" are being rejected based on the color of their skin?

In the words of Martin Luther King:

"Now is the time to make justice a reality for ALL of God's children."



I have a dream: that Black children waiting for families will be accepted into a loving home, without fear or prejudice, because they deserve a family as much as any other child on earth.

I have a dream: that some day the troubling statistics about the number of minority children in foster care and group homes waiting for families, in comparison to the number of families waiting for Caucasian children, will become something we shudder at as a sad part of our nation's history.

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-- And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?


  1. My sweet Presh was a DOMESTIC placement ... and she waited in a foster home with a DOMESTIC agency for seven months.

    On average, there were approximately 20 waiting couples at that agency during that time.

    Another little girl, also AA, waited a full year before placement.

    When people tell me that race is no longer an issue, I tend to poke their eyes out with my keys.

  2. This is extremely disheartening, Kristen. Even more so because when we went through our foster-to-adopt home visits and approval this past fall (just formally approved over Christmas), our sw (who happens to be AA) told us that he would never place an AA child with us because he wouldn't want that child to feel different from his parents. I was no less than shocked and outraged and still get upset when I think about it. I was raised on an Indian reservation, with a white mama and Native daddy. I know - to some extent - what it feels like to grow up in an interracial home... and he still tells me that! Hearing a story like this makes me wish I lived somewhere, oh, let's say "less remote" than Montana. If I could adopt from California through the foster system, I would in all seriousness ask you for details about this situation. (HP sister: snorr)

  3. Thank-you for posting this. It needed to be said.

  4. Excellent post!

    Wanna hear something really strange that makes me ask God, "what the heck is up?!?!?!" My husband and I, who have been open, willing, and desiring adoption outside of our own race since FOREVER(and we prayed about it and studied about it too, of course, knowing full well the statistics of white couples wanting to adopt only white children)).....who said "either gender, any race, under 36 months" on our San Diego foster care forms.....were recently placed with an extremely healthy, 3 DAY OLD CAUCASIAN BOY. Nobody understands how this happened, not even the social workers. And, frankly, my husband and I were almost disappointed about it at first. But we've got him, and we love him like crazy, and we continue to be amazed at His plans for our weird lives.

    And just an aside, we had originally planned on adopting from Haiti but a social worker through an agency I won't name told us that we were too young. And I now know that this is true to an extent but I also know that plenty of people are adopting from there and getting around the under 30 law. BUT, someday,if God let's us, we'll adopt from Haiti as well.

  5. Kristen, great post.

    Sara, that is against the law. Under MEPA (multi-ethnic placement act) they can't discriminate.

    AND... as a social worker, i am very interested in disproportionality in children of color entering foster care at much higher rates over white children to begin with...

  6. I love how you say things. Hits a person right in the gut. And that's a good thing.

  7. Lindsay3:54 PM

    I gotta say though, I have a problem with any organization that only caters to one specific group. What about wonderful Jewish families? Or a loving Unitarian? Or a compassionate Agnostic couple? Does this foster organization accept gay couples? I find it extremely ironic and sad. When we divide each other in any sense (race, religion, culture, beliefs) we will never change anything.

  8. I,like Lindsay wonder about organizations that only work with certain groups. After being turned away from a few orphanages in Haiti because we were not Christians I have found it increasingly hard to digest that agencies are only willing to work with a certain portion of the population. We were actually told by one O that they would not approve us to adopt and that the child's needs would be better met through a lifetime in the O learning the word of God than in a secular home, go figure.

    Here I was thinking that these people were working FOR the children in their care.

  9. If anyone is interested in pursuing the adoption of a waiting child, please check out www.adoptuskids.com. There are children in EVERY state. And as Diane mentioned, a social worker denying a home for a child based on race is illegal. (But I know it still happens behind closed doors).

    Lindsay and Jenn, I don't disagree with you. In fact, I want to write more on that later. I only mentioned it because as a Chrisitan agency one would *think* there might be more couples with a more advanced ethic in terms of God's love for all children equally.

  10. thanks for the post Kristen, especially the MLK speech. It was great to watch it again.

  11. Kristen,

    Amazing post. I think we may be adopting several children now. Mike and I were in tears the other night reading your post. I was sad and then totally enraged at the racism that still invades our culture.......

    Anyway, I think this post may have just inspired more families to adopt...Great job!

  12. Oh this makes me SO ANGRY!!! We have adopted internationally 3 times and are working on a 4th...and have tried EACH TIME to adopt domestically through the Social Services system to no avail. Last time I made no less than 20 phone calls on various kids throughout the US...a 17 year old AA boy, an Hispanic sib group of 3 with issues, a sib group of AA girls...and got only one return phone call who told me I could go ahead and submit our homestudy and we could essentially "compete" (yes that word was used) for the placement against others, but that our race (caucasian) might work against us. I threw my hands up in the air and gave up. Now we have 3 Asian sons and would have GLADLY embraced an AA child/children if someone would have simply been willing to place them with us. Regardless of the "law" that says Social Workers can't discriminate, there is no doubt they do...and privately a social worker who has worked with us in the past admitted it. Such a shame, and it makes me even angrier when inexperienced and uneducated people come up to me with venomous attitudes over why we didn't adopt domestically.


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