Mothers in Florida who put their black babies up for adoption are nowadays increasingly choosing Canada in the hope that they won’t suffer from racism.
Even though international adoption is declining in many countries, in Florida it is surprisingly growing as more numbers of Florida mothers are wishing to place their African-American or mixed-race children up for adoption in Canada. A decade ago, the trend began in B.C. but today has spread to a number of provinces through Ottawa-based international adoption agency Children’s Bridge.
Many of these mothers have told adoption officials that they want Canadian families to raise their children so that they can escape the kind of racism their parents lived with. Some also point out Canada’s parental-leave benefits, implying that these would mean their babies getting a better chance of bonding with their new parents.
“Many birth mothers are choosing to have their children placed in Canada because they feel that Canada is a much more open society and they feel they will have less exposure to racism here,” said Cathy Murphy, executive director of Children’s Bridge, which has had a Florida program for nearly two years.
Melanie Kassandji, an adoption co-ordinator with Hollywood, Fla.-based Adoption by Shepherd Care, which works with The Children’s Bridge, said birth mothers choose Canadian parents because they think they will provide their child with a good life. She also noted that the majority of the families who adopt in Florida are Caucasian and are more likely to adopt Caucasian children.
“Our birth mothers express things like: ‘I have experienced racism and I don’t want that for my child,’” she said. “We have girls that say, ‘I don’t want my baby growing up in Florida.’”
Florida’s racial realities were highlighted in the year 2012 with the death of a 17-year-old Florida high school student Trayvon Martin. The black teenager was unarmed and was shot by a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator. George Zimmerman argued he was defending himself under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, and was later acquitted.
According to the US State Department, 21 Canadian families adopted babies from Florida in 2013. But another estimate put the number of US children adopted internationally every year much higher. Joan Heifetz Hollinger, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, says that as many as 500 US children are adopted internationally every year, most of them black.
When most countries are closing their international adoption programs, Florida’s program is growing, and has more than doubled in the past few years. It also makes the US one of the few countries in the world with both incoming and outgoing international adoptions. This is controversial because vast majority of babies adopted by families in Canada and other Western countries are African-American or biracial.
Birth mothers can choose a family in Canada and the adoptions are often open or semi-open, implying there is contact between the adoptive family and the birth family. According to Canadian adoption officials, families that live in communities with multicultural populations are usually the best fit.
Source: The Province