There are two main schools of thought on the idea of transracial adoption, one reliving that it is good and the other believing that it is bad. Some believe that adoption is adoption and that any steady and good home is profitable for the child over no home at all. These people, like Elizabeth Bartholet, believe that the well being of children is more important than outside factors like their culture or heritage, that life is more important if healthy and well than the specifics of what it means to be “well”.
Others, like Dorothy Roberts, believe that transracial adoption can be a “tool of oppression” for racial minorities by which the child is stripped of their natural heritage and supplemented with that heritage of the, likely, majority, thus assimilating the minority further into the majority identity. She believes that this forced assimilation robs children of their identity and culture and should be abandoned at all costs. She seems to say that in the grand scheme of things, it is better for society if children grew up in their own culture and not be placed in stable homes rather than risk losing their cultural heritage.
When I look at transracial adoption, I tend to see the trees for the forest and not the forest for the trees. I believe that we should forsake no child of well being or health simply to preserve the idea of culture. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Nationalism is the idea that one's country is better than all others simply because you were born in it.” In that way, I argue against people like Dorothy Roberts who is simply looking out for her own needs masked as her culture's needs – because in reality the need for culture is personal and not general – and not the needs of others.
What Roberts claims she does so to preserve her own belief that the world is a fair and perfect place. If the world had been ideal, then these children would still have parents. The fact is that they do not. And, that they do need parents. And, that there are plenty of good parents out there. And, that the well being of the child should be paramount. I would rather see one lose heritage, something that is inherited not inherent in exchange for a good education and good health or a family who loves and cares for them. The idea that they can wait around for another parent to show up of their own race is by definition – preferring one race over another – racism.
Whoever Roberts and others claim to be, is beyond me. They are certainly not looking out for the child. If a child is placed in a home where they “lose” their heritage as they see it but gain a loving family that will help them and guide them in life, so be it. The future of the child is more important than the events and histories of the people who came before them. Do not get me wrong, they should learn about where they came from, but their lack of parents is the cruel price paid by them after their birth, unfair as it is but nevertheless true, and the result of that injustice is a loss of where they came from. Likewise, it does not have to be a loss of where they are going. Just because they lost parents does not require them to mortgage their future to follow some idealistic view of what family should be. In this regard, those who argue against transracial adoption are no better than those who argue against same-sex adoption or interracial marriage or same-sex marriage or any other method that creates a so-called “different” family structure than the one the western world seems so bent on keeping intact.