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Transracial Adoption The Preferred Choice

babyBlack U.S Parents believe Canada has less racial strife.

Some parents of black and mixed-race children in the U.S. who have to put their children up for adoption are choosing to send their children across the border to Canada believing that Canada is a land of little racial strife.

The practice of sending African-American infants abroad has attracted a wave of media attention in the United States, some of it unfavourable. Critics there say the United States should be embarrassed that the world's richest country is exporting African-American infants to Canada and Europe to be raised in cultures with far less defined black cultures.

However it must be noted that a number of these adoptions are what is known as 'open adoptions' whereby parents can have regular contact and future visits with their children.

The National Association of Black Social Workers of America has condemned the practice, saying every effort should be made to ensure African-American infants are raised in African-American homes. It says black children are better off with parents who look like them and who can teach them their culture and better prepare them for racism.

Dave and Juanita Alexander, a couple from British Columbia have adopted two African American children, Keiran and Elias. Keiran's birth parents, Mark and Shante, a young couple who already had two children, one with costly health problems, decided they could not raise a third. They chose the Alexanders, both teachers, over a black American family because the Canadians agreed to an open adoption with regular contact and future visits.

The Alexanders know that racism exists in Canada, but they believe that in a province like British Columbia their children are viewed more as exotic curiosities. While the Lower Mainland is as diverse as any other Canadian urban centre, with large Asian and Indo-Canadian populations, there are very few black people on the streets of Vancouver.

They also know that as white parents, they can't live in their children's shoes or identify with the experiences the boys will encounter as they grow up in a predominantly white culture. But the couple have taken pains to expose the youngsters to other black children and adults. Once a month, they take their kids to a nearby playgroup for black children.

The couple lived in Senegal for a period and have African friends. 'We aren't black and we can't pretend to be or pretend it doesn't matter,' Ms. Alexander said. 'We can only hope they won't feel like strangers to this heritage when they are older.'

The Alexanders have heard the U.S. criticism against sending black infants abroad. But they know, too, that there is a pecking order to the world of international adoption, which ranks white female infants at the top and black boys near the bottom.

The wait for a white baby girl can be years, if ever, and the cost can approach $40,000 (U.S.). The wait for a mixed-race baby is shorter, and the price about $20,000. The wait for a black baby boy is even shorter and costs about $10,000.

The Alexanders don't want to be viewed as a middle-class couple flying in to 'rescue' two poor black boys. If anything, the reverse is true, Ms. Alexander said.

'They have blessed our lives beyond measure already. We feel privileged to have the honour of raising and sharing their lives with their birth parents.'


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