The message is simple: Don’t give up

I really love everything about this story.  Except the part where Maurice was taken from his family.  But, then again, without that part there wouldn’t be a heartwarming story of perseverance and triumph and love and connection to inspire and reinforce the message: Don’t give up.

I was especially moved by this: “I didn’t let anybody get close to me again…I hurt a lot of people…”  I think we’ve all encountered painful experiences that have left us tempted, or perhaps determined, not to let anyone get close enough to hurt us again.  And then we consciously or unconsciously start a cycle of hurting ourselves and each other out of fear of being hurt.  Seems silly when you look at it like that.  Seems serious if you’re stuck in it.

After years of separation from foster mom, 32-year-old man finally adopted

From Paul Vercammen and Michael MartinezCNN

San Diego, California (CNN) — A boyhood wish finally came true. But Maurice Griffin had to wait until he was a man for it to happen.

At age 32, the California man was adopted Friday.


“It was the best day in my life,” Griffin said after the proceeding in San Diego Juvenile Court. “I fought for 10 years and finally the day came.”

Adopting the burly, muscular, mohawk-sporting man is Lisa Godbold, his one-time foster mother.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Godbold added.

With a few pen strokes by Griffin, Godbold and Judge Richard Monroy, the adoption became official.

“This is going to be quite quick,” the judge told mom and son, all seated at a table. “If you blink, you miss it.”

Then son hugged mom. Mom cried.

“Congratulations to you both,” the judge declared.

Then a deputy took a photograph of three of them, a tradition that the judge noted is always done with small children and their adoptive parents.

Good time

The story dates to the early 1980s, when Godbold and her husband saw Griffin at an orphanage near their Sacramento home.

The smiling child seemed to fit perfectly with their family: Godbold is white. Her late previous husband was black, and the couple had two children who were, like Griffin, biracial.

The couple took Griffin in as a foster child. He quickly bonded with their sons, Gideon and Spencer.

“We were best friends,” Griffin said. “We’d run around, we did mischievous things and fun things. It was a good time.”

He lived with the family as a foster child for four years, until he was 13. Then, just two months shy of being adopted by them, it all fell apart.

Griffin said he wanted to be treated like a “real” son: He wanted to be disciplined like the couple’s other sons. He wanted to be spanked, he said.

So he innocently told a social worker that was what was going to happen.

The social worker then told her superiors, and soon Griffin was about to be removed from the household, he said.

Family ripped apart

One day, foster care officials took Griffin away, saying he could not live with Godbold’s family anymore.

“You can’t spank foster children. Maurice very much wanted that,” Godbold said. “We wanted him to feel like the rest of our kids. And there was a difference of opinion with some of the (child welfare) supervisors.”

Godbold said she fought to keep Griffin and was told she could lose her biological children, too.

CNN contacted the state agency responsible for the case, but its officials would not comment because it’s still considered a juvenile matter.

So Godbold had to let go. And as time moved on, Griffin says, he lost touch with what he felt was his only family.

“It was just an emptiness,” he said. “I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because nobody was there. I couldn’t call somebody; there was just a void in me.”

Griffin said that he acted out every chance he got in hopes the state would reunite him with the people he considered to be family.

He bounced from one foster home to another, never finding what he lost.

“I didn’t let anybody get close to me again,” Griffin said, holding back tears. “I hurt a lot of people. It was a rough road.”

Searching for each other

Despite several obstacles, Griffin and Godbold never stopped searching for one another.

Godbold’s husband died in 1998. She remarried and changed her last name, and moved.

But six years ago, Godbold found Griffin on social media. They communicated online and then one day she called him.

“She said, ‘hey baby,’ and I said I got to call you back,” Griffin said, trying to explain how overwhelmed he was by the reunion.

As she entered the courtroom Friday, Godbold harbored fear that a surprise would halt the proceeding.

“I was actually really nervous before walking in, even though signing on the line was a formality,” Godbold said. “I thought something might happen to keep it from becoming official today.”

Griffin is an example of triumph in foster care.

“I’m a living example of it, that I have been through it,” Griffin said. “I just never stopped. It will all work out.”

Godbold says the message is simple: don’t give up.

“Don’t give up – persevere. Keep looking for that love, that family connection, whether it’s with an infant or your 32-year-old child,” she added.

Griffin lives in San Diego and Godbold lives in San Jose, Calif., but now that they’re mother and son, they’ll be getting together often.


“She’s my mother,” said Griffin. “She has always been my mother.”

we want to look related

..but sometimes we don’t.  Or we do, but people can’t see it because of that skin color, hair color, eye color thing.  I don’t think looking alike means being the same shade.  Shapes are involved too.  That we toss all of our kindergarten training aside to rely solely on hue when it comes to this kind of thing is a symptom of this disease I’ll call colorism.  A descendant of our old friend racism.  Needless to say, I like this piece because it points all of that out.

Who does your baby look like?



I remember glancing into a bathroom vanity a few years back and doing a double take.

In the dim light, I could have sworn I saw my mother’s face staring back at me. It was her slightly curved nose, her oval face and heavy eyelids. What could have been an unwelcome reminder of aging instead took me back to my childhood. I remember watching intently, enamored by her face, as my mother applied her makeup for parties.

A homely sort of child, no one ever told me I looked like her when I was young.

Nonetheless, I was still stunned when the doctor handed me my newborn daughter. She looked nothing like me.

Perhaps we expect to replicate ourselves, at least to some degree. Her hair was much lighter than my black locks. Her skin was considerably paler. She looks so much like her paternal grandmother, Georgia Kelley, a Midwestern woman of European descent.

This baby girl looked just like her father, a product of a biracial marriage himself.

One visitor tried to tell me that all newborns resemble their fathers initially. It’s an evolutionary adaptation to reassure dad that he’s actually the daddy.

Dr. Alan Templeton, professor of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine, says he hasn’t ever seen any scientific research supporting that theory.

“I’m actually very skeptical of it,” he said. But, there is plenty of research on organisms, including humans, showing that they rely on resemblances as part of kin recognition. And, we treat those we recognize as kin differently than nonkin, he said.

“This is evolutionarily quite old, and not unique to humans,” he said.

It made me wonder if we subconsciously favor a child who looks more like us?

My sisters joke that I look like my daughter’s Mexican nanny when we are out in public.

Like any biased parent, I think she’s beautiful. But I was tickled when our second child arrived with the exact same almond-shaped eyes as my entire family. He looks like a miniature version of my younger brothers. It’s a public display of genetic prowess: We won round two.

There must be a biological imperative involved. We are hardwired to want to pass along our own very special DNA. The crooked smile and hazel eyes are genetic affirmation.

Almost immediately after a child is born, speculation begins on who the child looks like. It’s one of the most popular topics of discussion as babies’ faces change so rapidly in those early years. And when we tell someone their child looks like them, the typical response is usually a big smile.

But in this age of increasingly biracial and multiracial families, cross-cultural adoption and fertility treatments with donor eggs or sperm, there will be more children who look strikingly different from their parents.

I’ve known a few white women who have married Pakistani men and subtly changed their appearance once their children were born. Typically, blond hair gets dyed a shade or two darker. They get tired of answering the question: “Is she really yours?”
We want to look related. We want outsiders to know we are on the same team, a family.

Parents who adopt children from another ethnicity deal with intrusive (and sometimes obnoxious) questions fairly regularly. Questions such as “How much did they cost? and “Why didn’t you adopt a white baby?” make the old jokes about the milkman seem downright charming.

One mom delights in telling the story of taking her adopted son, who shares her blue eyes and blond hair, to restaurants. She’s been told by bystanders: “Oh, there’s no mistaking he’s your son.”

She smiles and says: “You’re right.”

I’ve heard my share of awkwardly phrased questions when people see pictures of my children. Sometimes, they’ll ask: What is their father? I’m always tempted to answer by species rather than race. But, I know the subtext. Skin color, hair color, eye color — those primitive markers signify if you’re one of us or one of them.

That shorthand just doesn’t work as well in today’s world.

When people tell me my daughter looks just like me, I am secretly delighted even though I don’t buy it. But, there is a reason she frequently makes me want to pull my hair out: her stubborn personality, her passionately held opinions, the smart remarks and proclivity to collect mounds of clutter. Looks notwithstanding, she is a 7-year-old reflection of myself.

what’s this world coming to!?

This is a great article chronicling the changing landscape of transracial adoption.  Best advice I’ve read on the matter: “those adopting must be educated to understand ‘the impact of race and racism on the country, their family and the child in particular.'”

Transracial adoptions: A ‘feel good’ act or no ‘big deal’?

By Jessica Ravitz


(CNN) — “White people adopt black kids to make themselves feel good… A black child needs black parents to raise it.” “Maybe she adopted one because the blacks in the community wouldn’t step forward and adopt?” “What’s the big deal? If no white person ever adopted a black child, they’d be saying why don’t white people adopt black children.” “Who cares what race they are? A woman got a child, a child got a mother…it’s BEAUTIFUL!!! And yes I am black…if it matters.”

These impassioned comments and thousands more poured in earlier this week when CNN published a story on the stirred-up debate surrounding Sandra Bullock’s recent adoption. A People magazine cover photo of the actress beaming at her newly adopted black infant son, and the discussions that have followed, clearly hit a nerve.

So when it comes to transracial adoptions in this country, where are we?

Stacey Bush is the white child of a black mother whose adoption sparked controversy and whose attitude forces people to think about the issue differently.

Stacey wouldn’t change a thing about her life, which is saying a lot for a young woman who spent her early childhood being neglected and bounced through the foster-care system. That was before a drawn-out legal case ended in 1998, allowing a single black woman, Regina Bush — the only mother Stacey had ever loved — to become her forever mom.

Regina Bush stands with her daughter, Stacey, whom she adopted after lengthy legal wrangling.

Regina Bush stands with her daughter, Stacey, whom she adopted after lengthy legal wrangling.

The Michigan lawsuit was filed when a county agency cited concerns about “cultural issues” in an attempt to keep the pair apart. Regina Bush’s adoption of Stacey’s biracial half-sister had already been completed, without challenge, and Bush says she wanted to keep the girls together. (As a matter of full disclosure, this CNN writer’s late father represented Regina Bush in the case.)

At 21, Stacey is thriving in college, well on her way to becoming an early-childhood educator and seamlessly moving between worlds. In one day, she might braid the hair of black friends, address faculty at Central Michigan University where she is on a partial multicultural scholarship, and then go salsa dancing with her Latina sorority sisters.

“People are sometimes startled. ‘She’s white, but she doesn’t seem white,'” she says with a laugh. “I can relate to everyone. I like being exposed to everything. … Seeing me, hearing me — it doesn’t matter what color you’re raised just as long as someone loves you.”

Forty percent of children adopted domestically and internationally by Americans are a different race or culture from their adoptive parents, according to a 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, the most recent study of its kind conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Legislation passed by Congress in 1994 and 1996 prohibits agencies getting federal help from discriminating against would-be parents based on race or national origin.

How adoptive parents have approached transracial adoptions has changed with time, says Chuck Johnson, acting chief executive of the National Council for Adoption.

“In the old days, meaning the ’70s and ’80s, there was this notion that these parents need to be colorblind. This sounds wonderful, but by being colorblind you’re denying they’re of a different race and culture,” Johnson says. “Families that are successful are those that acknowledge race. … It’s not a curse. It’s not an impossible feat. They just need to work harder to give a child a sense of self-identity.”

It may be ideal and less complicated to match children available for adoption with same-race, same-culture families, says Johnson, who advocates that children be raised in their own countries whenever possible, too.

“But timeliness is of the utmost importance,” he says. “It’s better to find permanency and a loving home.”

The latest figures show that there are 463,000 American kids in the foster-care system, of which 123,000 are available for adoption, Johnson says. Of those, he says, 30 percent are black, 39 percent are white, 21 percent are Hispanic and the rest are of other origins.

Seventy-three percent of official adoptions — including those arranged through foster care, private domestic arrangements and internationally — are done by whites, according to the 2007 survey of adoptive parents. But that doesn’t account for informal arrangements, when relatives take in other family members’ children, which is much more common in the black community, says Toni Oliver, vice-president elect of the National Association of Black Social Workers.  She says the black community takes in “more children than the whole foster care system does,” although Johnson adds that often these arrangements don’t have the safeguards and protections legal adoptions provide.

When handled well, transracial adoption is “a very positive thing,” says Rita Simon, who has been studying these adoptions for 30 years and has written 65 books, including “Adoption, Race & Identity: From Infancy to Young Adulthood.”

“But love is not enough,” said Simon, a professor of justice and public policy at American University in Washington. “You really have to make some changes in your life if you adopt a child of another race.”

In the case of a white parent adopting a black child, that might mean living in an integrated neighborhood, having pictures in the home of black heroes, seeking out other families in similar situations, attending a black church and finding role models or godparents who are black. The same need to integrate a child’s culture applies across the board, whether parents are adopting from Asia, Central America or elsewhere.

“It helps make our society more integrated,” said Simon, who has five biracial grandchildren. “Race becomes less important and other kinds of identity issues become more important.”

Bill Barry and his wife, Joan Jacobson, adopted two boys as newborns. Willie, 17, is biracial and Alex, 15, is black. Race never mattered to the white couple when they set out to adopt, after it became clear they wouldn’t be able to bear children on their own.

Bill Barry and Joan Jacobson pose with their two sons, Willie, left, and Alex, whom they adopted as newborns.

Bill Barry and Joan Jacobson pose with their two sons, Willie, left, and Alex, whom they adopted as newborns.

“We simply wanted a healthy newborn,” Barry says. “We didn’t care about race, didn’t care about sex, and we knew we wanted them locally.”

Had the family uprooted to white suburbia, he suspects, the journey might have been more challenging. As it is, the kids go to public schools in Baltimore, Maryland, live in a multiracial and multicultural environment and grew up in a house where pictures of Paul Robeson and Rosa Parks hung on the walls. But Barry says he and his wife didn’t “go way overboard.” The white pair didn’t, for example, suddenly start celebrating Kwanzaa.

“My wife is Jewish, though not so practicing, and we did Christmas and Hanukkah. Double the presents — they quickly celebrated that,” he says. “Kids are always trying to figure out their identity and who they are, and race is just part of it.”

That may be true, but the National Association of Black Social Workers has long argued for keeping black children in black homes. About 40 years ago, the association released a four-page position paper on transracial adoption in which it went so far as to call such adoptions “genocide” — and that word choice has dogged the organization ever since.

But Oliver, the vice-president-elect, says when that position was written decades ago, blacks were being discounted as adoptive parents, not being given the same resources to help keep families together and thereby prevent the need for child placements, and that agencies weren’t recruiting families within the community. By speaking strongly, the organization helped jolt the system — although more still needs to be done, she says.

The preference, Oliver says, remains that kids be placed in same-race households whenever possible. And if it isn’t possible, or if a birth parent selects an adoptive family of a different race, then those adopting must be educated to understand “the impact of race and racism on the country, their family and the child in particular,” she says.

“There is a negative impact that children and families are going to experience based on race,” she says. “The idea that race doesn’t matter is not true. We would like it to be true, but it’s not.”

Regina and Stacey Bush have faced challenges along the way. They’ve received their share of stares and under-the-breath comments like, “What’s this world coming to.” When a young Stacey once started climbing into the van to join her family at an Arby’s restaurant, patrons came running to grab her, yelling that she was going into the wrong car. The girl was given detention at school, accused of lying because she called a young black boy her little brother, which he was. At a movie theater one time, someone called the police because they feared Stacey had been abducted.

Regina says she got attacks from both sides.

“White babies were a precious commodity. ‘Blacks can’t take care of white children,'” she remembers hearing. “And blacks were outraged” because there are so many black children in the system who need homes, and “they didn’t understand why a black woman wouldn’t adopt one of her own.”

But she says she simply wanted to keep Stacey and her half-sister in the same home and give them a loving family, together.

Stacey says that upbringing taught her to embrace all people.

“It gave me so much opportunity to talk to so many different people. There were no limitations. I stood up for a lot of things, and it made me break peoples’ mind-sets,” she says. “We’re accountable for each other as brothers and sisters. We need to look out for each other because at the end of the day we’re all human beings.”

brown babies

I’ve been meaning to post more about these AfroGerman children since blogging about  the holocaust memorial last month.  This post is mostly a reblog from  As someone who has a hard time embracing my German heritage (none of which is “afro”), I find myself fascinated by this piece of our history.  I would love to track down some of these “brown babies” and interview them about their experiences in Germany and in the U.S.  The Black German Cultural Society website is definitely worth checking out.  So many resources, so much information.  I have a feeling I’ll be touching on this topic again…. and again.

Germany’s Brown Babies

Many of our constituents are children who were born to German mothers who were abandoned by African American soldiers during the U. S. Occupation following World War II. While some remained in Germany, many were raised in orphanages or with foster families; a few remained with their natural mothers. Many were offered for International Adoption to African American Families and accepted into the US under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (amended June 16, 1950) , where it was assumed that they would “more easily assimilate into the culture.”

This result is a generation of culturally displaced persons who remain disconnected and alienated from the mainstream of the societies in which they lived and from both ethnic communities to which they belong.

Adoption is a wonderful concept and is generally accepted as an ideal social mechanism for improving lives and circumstances for abandoned or orphaned children. However, recent psychological and sociological research has determined that these children often suffer significant lifelong emotional and social problems such as identity deficits, separation and attachment disorders, and chronic depression, as well as other problems as a result of separation trauma and what has been identified as “the primal wound.”

The issue is magnified and the outlook becomes ever more complicated when we explore the international adoption and abandonment of interracial children who were created by opposing forces following a major global war. For the most part, there was no professional follow up in terms of the physical, social and emotional well being of these children once they were placed.

Historians in the last decade have begun to study and write publications about the Brown Baby Plan and the cooperative attempt between the two governments to place and provide for these unwanted and displaced children. Autobiographical Interviews and publications have given voice to the trauma and lifelong suffering stemming from the dramatic loss of identity and heritage and the cultural alienation that these children faced, particularly while growing up both in post war Germany and in the US during the Civil Rights era, a period when intense racism and discrimination was under scrutiny and identified as a major problem in both societies.

“We struggled through childhoods filled with confusion, fear, anger, and feelings of inferior self-esteem. Navigated adolescence in extreme conformity to perceived structures of authority, in order to redeem our existence, or in defiance to them in utter rebellion. Adulthood was either accomplished successfully by integrating the powerful nuances of our diversified selves, or postponed until safety could be found in the distanced wisdom of experience. Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us are just now coming of age.” ~ Rebecca, Black German Cultural Society.

American Homes For Germany’s Brown Babies Are Scarce – Jet Mag, May 15, 1952

Tan Tots Attend German Schools – Jet Magazine, July 24, 1952

Brotherly Love – Jet Magazine, December 18, 1952


German Brown Babies Arrive in US – Jet Magazine, January 29, 1953

Brown Babies Become Americanized – Jet Magazine, May 21, 1953

Brown Babies Find New Homes In America – Jet Mag, Oct 8, 1953

all photos found atVieilles_annonces of Flickr

you’re not adopted

Wow, what a story!  While I think that Mrs. Brannigan’s choice to feign adoption in order to keep her own son is a sad commentary on black/white race relations, I honestly admire her commitment to her child and think her solution was clever.  This certainly is a unique story of “transracial” “adoption”.

Torment of the child from a mixed- race affair

By Ronan Lang

Tim Brannigan likes to say that he was born on May 10, 1966, and that he died the same day too. Minutes after his birth, Tim was ferried away from his mother Peggy, who subsequently told her own parents, siblings and her three other children that her baby had died in childbirth.

For the next five days in Templemore Hospital in Belfast, Peggy Brannigan had one ashen-faced visitor after another express their deepest condolences for her loss while, just a few doors down, her baby gurgled and cooed away like any healthy newborn.

The reason for the deception was that Peggy was a white woman married to a white man, and her new son was black. During a difficult period in her relationship with her husband Tom, Peggy had met and had a brief affair with a Ghanaian doctor named Michael Euke.

When she became pregnant, Peggy panicked and told her husband that she had been raped.

When the baby was born, Tom went along with the charade. Somehow, Peggy also convinced the hospital staff to assist in her scheme. The plan was for Tim to be smuggled to an orphanage under strict instructions that he was not to be adopted.

Peggy needed time and headspace to figure out what to do, but the plan was eventually to ‘adopt’ her own son. To her credit, by the time of Tim’s first birthday, he was living with his family deep in the heart of the Falls Road.

EastEnders scriptwriters would throw out that idea for being too far-fetched, but it’s all true, and laid out in honest, mind-boggling detail in Tim’s new book, Where Are You Really From?

Speaking to Weekend on a recent visit to Dublin, Tim recalls the night that his mother finally confessed the truth to him.

“I was 19, and I remember it was the night before Live Aid,” he says. “We were at a family function, and we’d both had a few drinks. She was saying how she wanted me to travel and see the world. Then, out of the blue, she said, ‘Timothy love,I’ve something to tell you. I’m your real mum and you are my son. You’re not adopted’.”

It’s a bombshell by anyone’s standards, but Tim, astoundingly, managed to take the news in his stride. He remembers crying, but from happiness.

“Honestly, I found it relatively easy to process,” he explains. “At that stage, my relationship with her was already quite established. I viewed her naturally as my mother. I didn’t call her by her first name, I called her mum, and I was closer to her than most of my other brothers. It all just seemed right to me.”

Having had years to absorb the story, and the chance to revisit his origins through writing the book, Tim says that he understands his mother’s desperate motivations after he was born. “I think she was very proud, and was part of a culture of looking out the net curtains and judging others,” he says.

“Because her family were close to the Catholic Church, and they had a little bit of money, she couldn’t bring herself to tell her parents and it became this massive burden. I think mentally she let this secret get out of all proportions. Even after she told me in 1985, I wasn’t allowed to tell my two eldest brothers the truth. They only found out in the last decade.”

Peggy went on to tell Tim about his real father, who had refused to support Peggy and had only ever seen his son once as a toddler. Nevertheless, Peggy seemed to want Tim to find out more about his father.

“She wanted me to be excited about having this father all of a sudden, but I had no initial desire to meet him,” Tim says.

It would be almost 20 years before Tim finally did meet him. In the meantime, Tim completed a degree in politics at Liverpool Polytechnic, but it was the explosive politics in his native town that were to define his 20s and 30s.

…Surprisingly, Tim reveals that the most sustained racism he ever encountered in his life didn’t come from his neighbours on the Falls Road, schoolmates, Republican comrades or Loyalist foes, but rather from the British Army — even its black members.

“I think I escaped the worst aspects of any racism because Belfast was so conflicted,” he says. “The last thing the British Army were expecting to see was a black kid, so they’d be shouting things like ‘black bastard’, ‘nigger’ and ‘go back to the jungle’. But people on the street would then say, ‘Don’t listen to them Tim, ignore them’, and so I became ‘one of us’ and the soldiers were ‘them’.”

… Sadly, his mum’s health took a turn for the worse in October 2002 and, for the best part of two years, Tim nursed her until she died from a brain tumour in March 2004. With his mother’s wishes in mind, Tim decided to track down his father three years ago as part of a BBC Radio documentary.

“Even after all his messing around, my mum held him in high esteem,” Tim says of his father. “Whereas I was more cynical about him. I was like, ‘Why would I want to track him down? He knows where I am, and he’s never bothered. He’s clearly made his decision.’

“My mum wanted me to do well, and I think she wanted to say to him, ‘Look what I did with our son on my own’. So I started with a view to saying, ‘I’ve been through a lot, but I’m still standing; this is who I am; this is what’s happened to me’.”

It’s a journey that brought Tim as far as Ghana to eventually meet his birth father. Along the way, Tim discovered that he had five brothers and sisters on his father’s side, many of whom live in London. After showing initial enthusiasm towards Tim, they have since cut off contact. They’re likely taking the cue from their father.

“He’s a very successful, quite wealthy guy in Africa,” Tim explains. “Money doesn’t motivate me, but they might think I’m after something.”

Tim met with his father a few times during the documentary trip to Ghana. “It was pretty awkward and stilted,” he recalls. “He’s a man who seems to be able to compartmentalise his life. His wife, as far as I know, to this day doesn’t know about me. We met a few times for a drink, but it was clear he didn’t want me around. He was determined to keep me away from his house and the rest of the family.”

The last time they spoke, or had any contact, was by text and an argumentative phone call over Christmas 2008. Now that his story is out in print, there could be a chance of reconnecting, but Tim isn’t going to hold his breath.

“I think a couple of them are on Facebook so I probably will message them to say, ‘Brace yourselves’,” he says with a smile.

So has Tim dealt with what must be deep disappointment, and made peace with the fact that any kind of relationship with his father and half-siblings looks unlikely?

Tim smiles and pauses before replying: “There are issues … in my quiet moments. I find myself thinking, ‘What if?’, or, ‘Will I try again?’

“It’s still a bit of an emotional maelstrom, but what can I do? Maybe they’ll read this and change their opinions.” He pauses again before continuing: “I guess it comes back to what a social worker warned me when I first started looking for my father. She said, ‘If you don’t want to hurt anyone, then turn around now and don’t do it. Someone always gets hurt’.”

Where Are You Really From? by Tim Brannigan is out now, published by Blackstaff Press, €13

– Ronan Lang

read the rest @ Irish Independent

hundreds of illegitimate mulatto babies

Woweee!!  This article contains two phrases that I totally admire for the vagueness contained there-in: “the social pressure of British provincial respectability” and “if the infant evidence was removed.”

“Is There Anywhere? . . .”

yay, houston

Adoptive parents Austin and Thomasson love Houston’s open-mindedness….and the Tex-Mex, too

By Ben Austin

Ben Austin and his partner, Bill Thomasson, are adoptive parents to two former foster children, Ava and Elijah. They make their home in Sugar Land, and say they’ve been impressed by the community’s embrace.

Nearly three years ago, we relocated from the Bay Area in California to my hometown of Houston. We worried if an interracial gay couple with two adopted biracial children would be faced with prejudice and intolerance. After all, the South is not known for being a bastion of acceptance. Well the jury is in, and we have come out the other side of our relocation unscathed. Since coming to Texas we have met dozens of gay and lesbian couples, even more than we knew after several years together in California.

In addition to quickly gaining friendships, we were amazed at how accepting strangers were to our family structure. When we would go to Discovery Green, the Children’s Museum, an Astros game, the Zoo, or even the dog park, we were always casting sideways glances to see if people were staring. The beauty of it was that no one seemed to see us as novel, and if they did, we didn’t see any overt behaviors. In fact, my partner was surprised at the overall friendliness of people who would just strike up conversations for no apparent reason. What’s more is that we are big on family outings, and our experience — or non-experience — has been consistent regardless of the setting.

I am so glad to be home so I can enjoy authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. However, doing such in an inhospitable environment would make staying unbearable. Here, we get to have our enchilada and eat it too.


even more on adoption

This one isn’t so much about the fact that Biracial and African American children are “hard to place”, but about what they need once they’ve been placed. They need help finding their place.  Relationships are key.  Artifacts, not so much.

New research on multiracial adoption questions current practices

While many people who are adopted by members of another race still identify as black or mixed race, many lack the community and cultural connections with others who share those same identities. New research in the journal Family Process suggests that adopted children of mixed race need early and ongoing experiences within the cultural communities of their origin, and with other multiracial adopted persons, to help them to build healthy cultural identities. The labels black, biracial, multiracial, imply that the transracial adopted child has a healthy sense of that identity and all that it encompasses. Dr. Gina Miranda Samuels, author of a study and a multiracial, transracial adoptee herself, remarks, “we must question the meaning and cultural experiences (or lack thereof) beneath these labels. Furthermore, the idea of ‘colorblindness’ is now challenged as an effective approach in transracial parenting.”

Prior research on transracial adoptees often focused on self-esteem and school achievement in comparison to their non-adopted peers, but not in terms of their cultural sense of belonging. This study explores how transracial adoptees with mixed black-white heritage develop a sense of belonging and connection to their black heritage. Samuels also pays heed to how different racial-ethnic communities, and white adoptive parents, can support the identity development of their child by developing relationships in their child’s racial-ethnic communities.

The author asserts that diverse experiences (not confined to events, books, or dolls) can cause a family to become a truly multicultural as well as multiracial, family, and not a family of white parents with children of color.

Most adoptees interviewed for the study told of their search for their biological black fathers and extended black family in order to feel more deeply connected to their black heritage. This finding emphasizes the importance of culturally grounded relationships over cultural artifacts in identity development. Samuels found that there is often a stigma associated with transracial adoption in communities of color which can in turn diminish the “acceptance” of transracially adopted persons in those communities.

Samuels recommends that social workers and child welfare practitioners raise awareness of the importance of these experiences for transracial adoptees and adoptive families, and recognize both the strengths and challenges embedded in transracial adoption and mixed race identities.


critical need

I know I’ve posted about this before, but I’m gonna do it again.  And again and again, probably.  The fact that biracial (and af/am) children are in the “critical need” category based solely on their race is unsettling to me.  So, let’s get out there and adopt them 🙂

Catholic Charities to hold information session on adoption

Wilmington, Del. –

Catholic Charities Inc. will host a free informational session for parents who want to learn more about building a family through adoption.

All are welcome to explore opportunities to adopt children in critical need, including African American children, biracial children and special needs children at the late February program.

“These children, ranging in age from infants to age 17, need parents now,” Catholic Charities’ Executive Director Richelle A. Vible said. “If you can, please consider opening your heart to the possibility of creating a family through adoption. It is a special blessing to become the most important person in a child’s life.”

Read more:

Adoption process is more involved than many realize

By Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Within the United States, a private adoption could cost that much($22,000-25,000), in both time and money, especially depending on the race of the child a family wants to adopt, experts say.

“We are always in need of families to adopt African-American and mixed-race babies,” said Connie Bach, director of adoption for Children’s Home of Pittsburgh and Lemieux Family Center, a full service agency in Friendship.

Full service means that her agency helps walk prospective adoptive parents through the process, which includes a security background check, a family analysis profile, matching and placement of the child before a court can put its stamp of approval on an adoption.

“Something people should know about adoption is that it often takes time, but if a family is truly committed to the process, it can be the most rewarding thing,” said Ms. Bach, whose agency mostly focusses on adoption of babies within the United States.

Read more:

a reunion

Siblings cherish long-awaited reunion with birth mother on Thanksgiving

By Cheryll A. Borgaard

For Helen Ford, finding her birth mother four months ago was “exciting, but scary.”

“I was nervous, but I also had a feeling of happiness,” Ford, 54, said Monday. “If you’ve been the product of adoption, you have some questions, but it felt good. You think, ‘Maybe I’ll meet this person, see who I am, where I came from.’ ”

She learned she was born to a 17-year-old blond-haired white girl from a strict Mormon background and a young black man the teen had met in high school in Seattle.

Early Thanksgiving morning at her Longview home, Ford and her birth mother, Delores Burlew, 72, saw each other for the first time in more than five decades.

Their reunion wasn’t the only one to take place that day. Burlew also met Mark Robinson, 52, another child she had with the man two years after Ford was born.

Growing up in Longview

Ford and Robinson were adopted by a black couple, Melvin and Jeanette Robinson of Longview — she at age 2 1/2, he shortly after his birth. They grew up on Eighth Avenue in Longview in a predominantly black neighborhood.

“We were blessed, in a sense, that we got to grow up in the same household. As far as Mama was concerned, we were hers,” Ford said of her adoptive mother, who gave her children little or no information about their background. “Growing up, we did have issues (being biracial), but for the most part, it made us who we are today.”

…Burlew remembers the day she received the document from Children’s Home Society, asking if she would agree to let Ford contact her.

“I got the letter on Friday, and I was scheduled to go to heart surgery on Monday, Aug. 10,” she said Monday from her home in Ogden, Utah. “In the meantime, I had to send in a consent form, but because of my surgery, the caseworker circumvented it, and Helen and I spoke that weekend.”

One of the first things Burlew told Ford during that phone call was that she’d also given up for adoption a son born March 17, 1959.

“I told her yes, that’s my brother, Mark, and that we’d been adopted by the same couple,” Ford said. “Dee (which is what Ford calls Burlew) was just floored at that point.”

“It was great to find out they were together,” Burlew said.

‘It wasn’t something I wanted to do’

Burlew moved from Utah to Seattle with her mother and stepfather in August 1954, just before her senior year of high school.

“I thought my mother was taking me straight to hell; I hated it there,” Burlew said. “I had to leave all my friends in Utah.”

When Burlew discovered she was pregnant, “My mother told me I wouldn’t handle the stress and couldn’t keep the baby. It wasn’t something I wanted to do.”

Burlew went to a home for unwed mothers in Seattle. “My mother didn’t want anyone to know what happened. My mother was a very, very staunch (Mormon).”

The young man had gone into the service, and when he came back on furlough, “it was one time, and boom, there was Mark,” Burlew said.

This time, her mother kicked her out of the house. Burlew said she got a job baby-sitting until she was far enough along in her pregnancy to return to the home for unwed mothers.

“It was just really difficult for me to go through it again,” she said. “But I wanted them to be wherever they would be the best off. I thought I would try to find them, but I never had the means. That’s why I never changed my maiden name. I thought maybe they could find me.”

She returned to Utah in 1959 following her first marriage and gave birth to another son and daughter.

“When they were old enough to know, I told them I figured I needed to tell them (about Ford and Robinson),” she said. “I wanted to tell them of the possibility that ‘You might not like your brother or sister because they’re biracial.’ ”

Read more of the Ford/Robinson/Burlew story HERE

I really liked this story…until the part where the birth mother said she had to warn her white other children that they might not like their siblings because they are biracial.  Did it not occur to her to raise them in a way that would encourage acceptance of all people?  Please pardon my judgmental tone.  I’m just sayin’.