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Should Race Be A Factor In Adoptions?

Publication Date: 
May 27, 2008
Jeninne Lee-St. John

Professor R. Richard Banks is quoted in a Time Magazine article on transracial adoption:

"All adopted children face challenges with being adopted," says R. Richard Banks, a Stanford Law professor and author of The Color of Desire: Fulfilling Adoptive Parents' Racial Preferences through Discriminatory State Action. "To some people, saying we want children to develop a positive identity means a positive racial identity. But it could be a good thing not to have a strong racial identity. The difference is a reflection of our beliefs about what black people should be and what white people should be."

Banks likens the debate over transracial adoption to the question of whether same-sex couples can be suitable parents. "It is true that [the children of gay couples are] more likely to experiment sexually when they're older, and they're less likely to be he-men or girly girls. But you could argue that that's a good thing to not have such starkly defined gender differences. It's a question of what counts as a good sexual identity." Treating parents differently because they want to adopt across racial lines would suggest "there's something abnormal about transracial adoption," says Banks, adding, "mostly these issues reflect our own anxieties about seeing mixed-race families."