Abstract

This study finds that the National Urban League, in the middle decades of the 20th century, led widespread efforts by child welfare agencies to recruit adoptive African American homes for children in black communities. Such findings are contrary to the predominant adoption historiography, which portrays a “pervasive neglect of black dependent children by the adoption community” until the appearance of interracial adoption for black children in the mid-1960s. However, despite these early activities of the National Urban League, leaders hoped for a fully integrated society characterized by assimilation. This led top leaders in the National Urban League adoption work to shift emphasis to interracial adoption just as a large number of minority adoptive-home recruitment projects were being met with overly strict standards for appropriate adoptive parents—which reflected the characteristics of the white middle-class couple. Minority-home recruitment efforts and liberalization of social work adoption standards were, thus, abandoned by the National Urban League. It used its influence on the Child Welfare League of America during the 1960s solely for the purpose of promoting color-blind adoption policy. It created targeted messages to social workers that encouraged them to approve transracial adoptions of black children by white parents instead of same-race adoptions into black American families. Minority adoptive-home recruitment campaigns were allowed to fade away.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2326-0947
Print ISSN
2326-0939
Pages
pp. 143-179
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-25
Open Access
No
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