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Suspicious of the ‘system,’ many African-American couples are missing an opportunity to help children in need.

Darlene and Reginald Knight had one son. They wanted more children. Darlene was unable to conceive. They considered adoption, but knew no one in their African-American community who had adopted. Costs seemed daunting.
Then they realized through Bethany Christian Services and the Georgia foster care system that many black children needed homes. Their initial reluctance melted away. Recalling his own fatherless childhood in downtown Atlanta, Reginald says his “heart began to be right. I got on board when I saw the need.”

The hard truth is: More black children need a home, yet they are less likely than other racial and ethnic groups to be adopted by families of any race–especially by black families. In 2010, Bethany Christian Services made 1,950 placements, but not more than one out of 20 adopting families was African-American. Bethany’s Columbia, S.C., office currently has 34 active prospective adoptive families in the Domestic Infant Adoption Program, but only one is black.
Many black families are suspicious of a “system” they perceive as responsible for putting black kids in foster care in the first place. Some resent the scrutiny they must undergo to be approved for adoption. Even the fees involved in the adoption process can be interpreted as “buying babies.”
Change is possible. In Charlotte 16 years ago, Ruth Amerson started a nonprofit adoption group, Another Choice for Black Families. She says, “I don’t have to convince African-Americans of the rightness of adoption–just make them aware.”

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