Zena F. Oglesby Jr., MSW, director of the Institute for Black Parenting (IBP) asserts that Black families face many of the same obstacles they did 35 years ago. Most agencies still operate under guidelines and practices developed from a White middle-class perspective. Outside of large cities, most public agency staff members are White. Some White workers are uncomfortable venturing into Black parts of town to recruit families, and some Black families are equally reluctant to approach a White agency.I posted on this issue back in October during the St. John's Adoption Conference -- click here for more.
Oglesby, a respected author, speaker and founder of (IBP) claims that the greatest barrier to adoption is workers’ belief that Black families "don’t have what it takes" to adopt from foster care.
He cited several studies including a 1988 federal study of 800 Black families targeted for recruitment as adoptive parents. Of these only two were approved. According to the study, the mostly White recruiters gave reasons for denial such as the applicants were ‘obese or were of below average intelligence’.
Oglesby recalled a San Bernardino family was denied because the mother had to drive to her job in Los Angeles. “She had to get up too early.” Another suggested a blown out light bulb in a home’s hallway leading to the bedrooms signalled “a family culture of neglect”.
The denials Oglesby said were largely based on a theory that you could not find minority families for minority children, a theory that lead to the formation of the nation’s first licensed Black adoption agencies in the mid-1980s.
A student asked Oglesby ‘what happened to those families’. “We turned around and approved many of them. We proved the system was beyond broken,” he said.
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