June 27, 2010
Racial Preferences in International Adoption
Fascinating report of an Italian high court decision on international adoption (from jurist.org):
The Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], the country's highest appeals court, ruled Tuesday that couples seeking to adopt children of a certain ethnicity or race "are not suitable for international adoption." The judgment was prompted by the case of a Sicilian couple who declared that they only wanted to adopt a Caucasian child of European descent. The decision cites violations of the Italian Constitution [text, PDF] regarding inalienable rights, equality, and international agreements. The court stated that parents who indicate a preference should not only have their particular application denied by the juvenile court under Article 30 of Law 184/1983 [text, PDF] of the Italian Civil Code, but their capacity to apply for adoption in general should be called in to question [ANSA report, in Italian]. The court also recommended that social services provide discriminatory parents with psychological support to allow them to overcome their aversion to adopting a child "who is not in [their] own image." The decision comes more than a year after the attorney general asked the court to intervene [Apcom report, in Italian] and ban these types of discriminatory requests. Children's rights group Friends of Children [advocacy website, in Italian], which initiated the complaint, said that they have been battling these types of requests for years and welcomed [press release, in Italian] the court's decision.
Ethnic tensions and discrimination are problematic in Italy, where illegal immigration is a growing problem. In January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] dismissed a suit against Italy [JURIST report] by Palestinian immigrants alleging illegal expulsion from the country. Earlier that month, a group of African immigrants was evacuated [JURIST report] from the town of Rosarno after violence was directed towards migrant farm workers there. In August, rights groups criticized Italy [JURIST report] for returning a suspected terrorist to Tunisia, disregarding obligations imposed by the ECHR. Last July, the Italian Senate approved a law [JURIST report] that would criminalize illegal immigration with a fine of between 5,000 and 10,000 euros and up to six months detention before deportation.
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The government of Italy seems to be acting very PC and is rightly trying to eliminate prejudice and discrimination. While well intentioned, there are serious potential dangers in this decision.
It is very likely to create a situation in which those desprate for a child are less forthcomong and honest about ther preferences, regarding race and also physical limitations. While on the one hand it sounds vulgar to shop for a child and pick and chose their color, age and health...it is worse to allow children to be adopte dby a fmaily who is ill-prepared to parent a child with challenges or a child of a difefrent race.
Interracial adoption means that the family becomes an interracial family. Unless the family is prepared to live in an integrated neighborhood and have their child attend an interracial school, they should not consider such an adoption. Many people, eager to adopt, who define themselves as "color blind" are unaware that being color blind is a result of white privilege and they ignoring the difficulties such a child will have. They are unaware that because race is a non-issue to them, that it will be an issue for their child and are likely ill prepared o del with the challenges a child in that position faces.
If Italy wants to protect children, they might consider a ban in interracial adoptions. But this restrictions seems ill conceived and likely to create more problems by forcing people to lie in order to obtain a sought after child - and one they really don't want rather than be refused any child.
Discrimination violates the basic tenants in the U.S. as well, and we struggle here with interracial adoption. But we cannot force racial tolerance on someone who is not, especially not risking inflicting such deep seated feelings on an innocent child.
Prospective adopters need to be honest with themselves and those helping them adopt. This judgment encourages the opposite and will only harm future families. Let them be honest and state their preferences and limitations so as not to wind up as Torry Hansen did - the woman who sent her Russian adopted some back because he was not as she expected him to be and beyond what she was prepared to deal with.
Honesty is far more important than being politicly correct.
Mirah Riben, author, "The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry"
Posted by: Mirah Riben | Jun 28, 2010 8:42:00 AM