CNN has a neat article up on the request by several major adoption-advocacy groups for the US to adopt more "color-conscious" policies regarding adoption. The current "color-blind" approach, which prohibits race play any consideration in deciding who the ultimate adoptive parents are, and also prohibits any special training for parents who are undergoing a trans-racial adoption, was designed to help reduce the inequality by which Black children languished in foster care for far longer than their White peers. The agencies want at least some consideration to be made encouraging same-race adoption (not a rule, just a preference), and, more importantly in my view, want to enact special training for parents adopting a child of another race.
A few years ago, I was at a meeting at the Black Student Union at Carleton where this precise issue was discussed. In fact, one of the students' parents worked at an adoption organization that specifically grappled with the issues of trans-racial adoption, and was very clear that it poses special problems under which parents might need a helping hand. One illustrative example, precisely because it is so mundane, has to do with hair-washing. The student mentioned that Black hair doesn't need to be washed everyday -- in fact, to do so is bad for the hair. Most people in the room (who were Black) nodded knowingly, but I was surprised -- it simply never occurred to me that hair-washing regimes would differ for straight versus kinky hair. And then he continued, as if he was talking about some exotic people, "apparently, White people need to wash there hair everyday," and now it was the Black students who looked surprised. It's no knock on any of us -- when's the last time you've thought to ask someone about how often they wash their hair? -- but it does illustrate the fact that there are things even well-meaning, engaged parents might need to be told with regards to trans-racial adoption.
The bigger problem particularly for White parents adopting Black children is getting them prepared to handle their child facing racism. Most Whites underestimate the amount of racism in the world, but having a Black child offers a rude awakening on that score. Knowing how to respond and give support to the child is absolutely essential, and is not something that necessarily comes naturally to White folks who do not experience racism daily.
All that being said, I recognize that there are dangers in raising screening requirements and onerous training burdens, and these shouldn't be overlooked. I merely want to raise the fact that these topics aren't as simple as we'd like, and problematize this lovely, idealistic notion that color-blind policy solves all ills.