Frozen embryo adoptions ignore plight of foster children
Editor's Note: President Bush just vetoed legislation passed by Congress that would have expanded federal research on embryonic stem cells.
(This op-ed was originally distributed on June 8, 2005.)
The plight of black children in foster homes doesn't seem to be a priority for the Bush administration.
On May 24, 2005, in his continuing courtship of the Christian conservative constituency, President Bush lauded families who have used a frozen embryo to bring a child into the world.
The event, which took place at the White House East Room, showed that the administration and many of its supporters are more concerned with the potential life of embryos than they are with the children already living. Thousands of black, older and disabled children need homes. We have never as a nation put their lives at the top of our agenda.
For many years, white couples who wanted to adopt healthy white American infants had difficultly doing so because of the short supply. Some of these would-be parents instead sought Asian, European and Latino infants. Others have forgone adoption altogether.
Those white couples who would have considered adopting a black child faced a virtual ban against it, endorsed by the National Association of Black Social Workers in 1972.
But any such restriction was nullified when the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 was signed by President Clinton, and today, no adoption crisis exists among people who adopt black children. These children, as well as older children and those who have disabilities, are in tragically large supply.
Having worked for a brief time as a volunteer in a small home for babies, all of whom were black, with AIDS and HIV, I have a glimmer of how difficult adopting a child with multiple birth defects and difficulties can be. It's understandable how a couple with a busy life might not accept a child whose life is so complicated.
But there are thousands of other children -- many of whom are black or biracial -- who could use loving homes.
When the administration showed off a few white families with their white donated frozen stem cell children ("snowflakes," a group named Nightlight Christian Adoptions calls them) at the press conference, the omission was obvious to anyone who knows about the children really in need of homes.
At the White House, Bush praised Nightlight Christian Adoptions and other organizations that promote the donation of frozen embryos. Bush has said he would veto the bill currently before Congress because it would repeal his previously set limits on stem cell research funding. Since 2002, the administration has given $1 million per year of taxpayer money to groups to publicize frozen embryo adoptions.
These actions once again raise the question of the president breaching the wall between church and state to promote a particular religion.
Instead of promoting religious adoptions of frozen embryos, Bush should help to find safe and secure homes and childcare for the thousands of poor, minority and disabled children who cannot fend for themselves.
Starita Smith is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denton, Texas, where she is a doctorate student in sociology at University of North Texas. She is a former reporter and editor at the Austin American-Statesman, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com.