download transcript
Intercultural Adoption, page 2

Tall white comedian Robert Klein used to perform a sketch in which he brought a date home to meet his short Chinese parents. That kind of surprise is no joke anymore. More Americans have mixed race families--as people eager to adopt will chose children from different races and cultures. Historically, says Sushi Moore of Summit County Children Services, adoption placements were based on physical characteristics...

Moore: When people wanted to adopt, they were looking for a child that would fit into their family and so agencies tried to match physical characteristics of children with families so they looked like their families.

In the 1950's, Americans, spurred by pictures of the Korean War, adopted Korean orphans. Then after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, whites began to adopt black children. But that came to a near halt in 1971 when the National Association of Black Social Workers passed a resolution condemning interracial adoption. They called it "cultural genocide" arguing that white parents could not provide the role model the black kids needed. This was dramatized in the movie "Losing Isaiah" where a lawyer questions the white mother of a black boy...

Movie Clip...a dialogue between social worker Margaret Lewin (Jessica Lange) and lawyer Kadar Lewis (Samuel L. Jackson)

KL: When you and Isaiah read together, do any of the books you read have African-American characters or contain African-American history or culture?

Lewin: We read Isaiah all sorts of books in our home.

KL: I'm sure you do, but is there a black face in any of them? For instance, have you read "The Planet of Junior Brown" or "The People Could Fly" or "Many Thousand Gone" by Virginia Hamilton?

Lewin: Not yet.

KL: Or how about "The Red Dancing Shoes" by Denise Patrick or Faith Ringgold's "Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky?"

Lewin: Not yet.

KL: Who do you think he identifies with, Mrs. Lewin? The orange-faced Muppet? Does he share its Muppet history? Do you ever stop to think how Isaiah must feel living in a world where he never sees anyone like himself?


back to feature
Copyright © 2002 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.
Send comments & suggestions to: