Black parents and children were denied services through adoption agencies well into the 2oth century. The denial was often based on race, religion and often both. African-Americans had to turn to other means of caring for their children, which in most cases was informal adoption traditions. It was well into the 1940s before many states were able to place black children in homes.
It was estimated that by mid-century, there were thousands of African-American children in need of good homes. However, many of them never found a permanent place. The U.S. Children’s Bureau began including race in its reporting system in 1948 and during the 1950s, some innovative programs around the country began recruiting non-white parents. From New York to Chicago and Los Angeles to Washington, DC, child welfare professionals and civil rights activists came together to promote culturally sensitive policies, integrate agency staff, and do community outreach.
In 1953, the National Urban League Foster Care and Adoptions Project was founded. The organization took steps to promote the adoption of black children nationally. Many states did not promote transracial adoption, but there were numerous of inquiries from white couples. After years of hard work had not eradicated the racial bias that made it difficult for African-American families to adopt, a few agencies began to challenge race-matching by placing African-American children in white homes cautiously. By 1970, around 2,500 transracial adoptions had taken place.
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