Considering adoption Howard County: Effort aims to match city children with affluent suburban minorities.

December 01, 1997

PERHAPS NO DECISION in life is larger than the one to have children. Nurturing a young mind and body is an awesome, albeit rewarding, task. Having a child never should be a decision taken lightly or without forethought of the enormous physical and emotional investment that every young person is entitled to receive.

Timing and circumstances are important factors for those considering expanding their families through childbirth. It also is true for those considering adoption.

The Howard County Department of Social Services (DSS) and hundreds of children hope more than a few local families have room in their lives and hearts for youngsters in Baltimore City who need parents. Howard is one of 40 communities receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate Project Bridge. Its aim is to place minority children in permanent homes.

DSS will use its three-year, $600,000 grant to match minority children in Baltimore with middle-class, African-American families in Howard. There are roughly 500 minority Baltimore children in need of families. The state Department of Human Resources is promoting this program, figuring there are African-American families living in Howard capable of caring for these young people.

This emphasis on finding minority families is not a criticism of non-black families that have lovingly adopted minority children. Rather, it reflects certain practical realities. Most white couples seek infants, but many of the city's eligible adoptive children are 10 years or older, often part of sibling groups. A common racial and cultural background, while not the most important factor in placing children, can strengthen a family's ability to meld with new members.

It takes commitment and desire to endure the trying adoption process. Families seeking to bring children into their lives must endure background checks and home inspections. In turn, many adults search for children who are free of serious health or behavioral problems.

Adoption is not merely an act of charity or altruism. It is a relationship that should enrich the lives of children and of parents. Baltimore City's children are hoping there are African-American families in Howard County seeking such enrichment.

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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