It's an unusual image: Caucasian parents with African-American children. But this category of transracial adoptions-which now accounts for 20 percent of all public adoptions-is changing the face and heart of America. How difficult a situation is this to handle in our country, with its history of racism? "As long as families know how to nourish their child's identity and ethnicity, the child will develop strong self-esteem," says Sandra Ripberger of Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children in New York City. Other groups loudly protest these placements. "Teaching children about culture, heritage, and racism can only be done by people who understand firsthand," says Rudolph Smith, president of the National Association of Black Social Workers, headquartered in Detroit. Judge for yourself as you listen to the following stories from moms and dads who have embraced the challenge.
Doria J. Lavagnino is a journalist in New York City.