Cameron is wrong on interracial adoption

“The most valuable resource of any ethnic group is its children. Nevertheless, black children are being taken from black families by the process of the law, and is being placed into white families as a solution to the adoption problem. It is, in essence, ‘internal colonialism’ and a new form of the slave trade, but only black children are used.” These words were given in evidence to a House of Commons select committee, by the Association of Black Social Workers and Allied Professionals.

Fast-tracking black children to be adopted by white families will only make the needs of black children invisible. These policies play into the popular misconception that colour blindness is a goal when in fact it is a disability. In this context, a disability is used to make those of colour and their needs invisible. Some 25 years of work by local authorities throughout Britain is being reversed in just two years of coalition government.

White family with black adopted child
A transracial adoption in action

David Cameron has successfully conflated the issue of speeding up adoption with the issue of same-race placements. It is not the first time that the nation’s government has gone down this route. Fast-track adoption has happened before. In the 1960s and 70s it relied on society’s abhorrence and unwillingness to listen to the pregnant unmarried female. Women were removed from their community, isolated in mother and baby homes often run by nuns, and then coerced by social workers into signing adoption papers.

Then, the mothers were shipped back to their community never to speak of it again. And those mother and baby homes were run like child farms; the nuns operated as the farmers; the social workers the landowners, and prospective parents were the consumers. In 1983, the social services committee report on children in care highlighted the failure of the social services departments to recruit enough black and interracial foster and adoptive parents. Now David Cameron has decided to focus on making it easier for white couples to adopt black children.

This basically shows just how adoption policy has gone backwards, ignoring the decades of research-based practice. In 1984, a group of young adults met on the fourth floor of the Children’s Legal Centre on Compton Terrace in Islington, north London. They had travelled from all over England and were united by one experience: they were black and either in care or had recently left care. It was difficult to talk, but then one spoke of bathing in bleach, another of being spat at and beaten and the floodgates opened.

White father combing his black child's hair with plastic fork
Gay white father with his black child

The ‘Black and In Care’ conference report and video, which was attended by 300 black people in care, was published in 1985. And partly as a result of the conference, the cause of same-race adoption and fostering was promoted by the ‘then’ Thatcher government and local authorities throughout the country as good practice. However, the point made in 1983 still stands; why hasn’t the government put much energy into finding black adopters?

The government’s belief that a family environment is all a child in care needs as quickly as possible is contrary to the fact that 50% of the children in care have fled an abusive family environment. Cameron is setting out his adoption policy stall where he knows the majority of consumers will not complain about the policy of fast-tracking black children to be adopted by white families, because most of his customers are in fact white.