Baltimore's Adoption Policy Needs ChangeI found the...


December 07, 1992

Baltimore's Adoption Policy Needs Change

I found the statistics on successful trans-racial adoptions in "Adopting Across Racial Lines" by Howard Altstein (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 18) a powerful argument for changing public policies in the city of Baltimore and in the state of Maryland. The adoption issue also shows how race and racial relations affect every aspect of social life.

I speak from direct experiences, as my wife and I -- a white couple -- set out down the road of adoption late in 1991.

I attended an evening meeting of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, hoping that the public agency -- which we support with our tax dollars -- could facilitate an adoption.

The social worker who presided at the meeting gave me the cold, hard -- and contradictory -- facts of adopting through a public agency: It is the city's policy to place adoptive children only with families of the same race, and since there have been no white adoptive children in years, we were effectively shut out.

Moreover, it is the state law that people can adopt through a public agency only in the counties in which they reside. Even though we are essentially prohibited by social realities from adopting through the Department of Social Services in Baltimore City, we are specifically prohibited from adopting through a public agency anywhere else in the state.

The social worker, a black woman, was extremely patient and clear with me. Placing black children with black families will hopefully stabilize the black community. Such same-race adoptions should lessen the problems that a black child -- especially a black male child -- might have as he grows to adulthood. She also assured me that no infant, of any color, was going unplaced in Baltimore, simply because of the policy against trans-racial adoptions.

Another woman who attended the meeting was wonderful. She was a black single parent, her only son was graduating from high school and entering the Army, so she felt that she had "room to give" to an adoptive child. She was requesting a young boy, maybe nine years old, whom she could take into her home and love as her own.

Well, we also had "room to give," and we soon completed an adoption June through a private agency of a mixed-race infant from Washington, D.C., whom we also love as our own.

Time will, of course, be the only teller on the success of our adoption, but I find it maddening that we were forced to start a long -- and costly -- private adoption simply because the social policy made it impossible for us to use public agencies.

The policy means that if you are white and want to live in Baltimore City, you have to have money to carry out an adoption. Lousy policy. Tough on us and tough on the kids.

Bill Barry


Hail Hillary

Kudos to Susan Trausch for her column, "The Hillary Problem" (Nov. 24.)

Now that the election is over and reporters no longer must attempt to impress their editors and the public with their "psychic powers," one would hope they would reach for a higher degree of integrity! There certainly exist in the world today enough deeply distressing conditions to concern them.

Adele Deitz


Bush's Laurels

In your Nov. 28 editorial discussing President Bush's decision to send troops to Somalia, you state ''. . . it refutes the notion of a leadership void in Washington during the transition.''

And what, may I ask, has there been in Washington prior to the transition?

Why was Mr. Bush defeated in the recent election if not ''for the notion of leadership void''? Ever since his success in driving the Iraqis from Kuwait, he has been sitting on his laurels.

Mr. Bush postures against Saddam Hussein, deploring Saddam's maneuverings against the U.N. and his atrocities against the people of Iraq. But when it comes to doing, it's, ''My allies don't want to,'' or, ''My generals are afraid to risk American lives,'' or, ''Our Arab allies are reluctant to use further force now that Kuwait is free.'' This is leadership?

Our president deplores the ''cleansing'' in the former Yugoslavia, but what can we do? ''My generals say that it will cost American lives.'' And ''we can't lift the embargo on those who are defending their lives because it may make the Serbs dislike us.'' Is this leadership?

The U.S. economy has been going downhill, jobs are being exported outside our borders, the export-import balance has gone from terrible to catastrophic, the deficit has reached astronomical proportions -- and the great leader has stood in front of his troops and said:

''It isn't my fault. It's up to the free market to take care of the economy. Let's undo the regulations that bind (so that the pirates -- oops, sorry -- entrepreneurs can gut our savings banks and pension accounts; buy up and sell off our industries; send our jobs overseas; fill in our wetlands; pollute the ground and air, rivers and oceans) and the free market will take care of everything.''

Was something said about a leadership void?

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