But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! Matthew 18:6-7
When I saw the Sandra Bullock and Baby Louis People Magazine cover unlike many Americans I did not think that the adoption was a happy ending. As a graduate student of social work I am taught to assess information and as an undergraduate student of Human Development I was taught about the importance of early childhood development. This information made me very disturbed by the fact that a fellow social worker placed an African-American baby in a home with a Nazi sympathizer.
Prior to an adoption the family is supposed to be closely assessed and as my social work placement supervisor repeatedly told me you have to be able to assess a situation, read between the lines and ask the questions that others may not think to ask. I do not know Sandra Bullock but I have to say that if someone is bold enough to take pictures wearing a Nazi hat they would intentionally or unintentionally take racist actions, did she not know her husband was racist prior to the adoption? This story points to the fact that interracial adoption is a tricky thing. As a former foster child that was taken in by a family member (this is called Kinship Foster Care) I thank God I did not have to “age out of the system” (which means you bounce from home to home and at 18 are released from care into the streets). I don’t want any child to live as an orphan, but I also don’t want children of color to grow-up not knowing their culture. I know many interracial adoptions don’t turn out like this one, but we have to recognize that a host of microagressions around race for a Black child can have just as great an impact as blantantly racist experiences. In other words adopting a Black child and having them live in an all White community or teaching them that they are just like you will do just a great amount of damage to their spirit and psyche. The Sandra Bullock story brought up many conflicting feelings for me. I don’t doubt that she cares for her son and I applaud anyone who chooses to adopt but my first thoughts were about what Jesse James could have done or said around the baby when Sandra was not present. Maybe he kept his beliefs from the baby but children (even infants) are more intuitive than people think. What if baby Louis could sense that all was not well with his “father”. Personally I believe that the agency and social worker who arranged this adoption should bring Sandra Bullock in for additional questioning. Some may say this is too harsh but in poor communities mothers are scrutinized by social workers concerning their children for much less. Though Bullock may have not known about her husband’s beliefs that is not the adoptive child’s fault. When you decide to adopt the burden is on you to create a safe environment. Though I have my concerns about interracial adoption, I am not totally against it and have seen it work well in cases where White parents are intentional about how they raise their adoptive children of color. Good intentions are not enough. If God called you to do something the tools for doing it correctly will be provided. The adoption field is not as innocent as the public may think. I know from personal experience that some agencies give social workers bonuses for getting children adopted and that those who want to adopt family members are given a harder time than strangers who will have to pay fees for adopting. I have heard that it is much harder for African-Americans than Whites who desire to adopt. Though many agencies are doing a great job finding homes for children, we have to remember that social services like all branches of our society are infected with racism and classism. Families of wealth will not be scrutinized as closely as a poor family with a stable household and a lot of love to give.
Let’s pray for baby Louis that he will grow to be a strong Black man who is secure in his identity. The stumbling block of racism is a great one and if by having to be around a Nazi sympathizer during his first few months of life baby Louis stumbles over this form of oppression the judgment will be great. Furthermore, please pray for the millions of orphans and foster children around the world. God’s word in James 1:27 declares: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3
I understand that Sandra Bullock has been through a great deal over the past few months and I am not trying to judge her, but as an emerging social worker my main concern has to be for the child.