Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Racist Fly in the Ointment

And the latest is....the landlords (we're in a duplex and they live in the unit beneath us) are consulting an attorney and won't accept T. moving in.

We wrote an innocuous message letting them know that we know this young man very well and that he'll be coming to live with us, probably in January. And they responded that there are "complexities" that we may not be aware of, that they need to know if he'll be living with us after the age of 18 (whatever that has to do with it - if we were having a baby, would they ask if the baby might live with us after it turns 18?), and that they'll be consulting their attorney and getting back to us.

They've met T. on the street during his weekends at our house. I just introduced him then as a friend, because we were getting to know each other and it was early days and I didn't want to put him on the spot. In our letter to the landlords, we didn't refer to T. as a "foster child" - we just said that he's a young man we know very well, and that for various reasons he can't stay with his family, and we'd like him to come and live with us. We didn't mention adoption, because he is likely to move in before we manage to adopt him, you never know how things are going to go, and anyway, it didn't seem like they needed that information.

I am certain race has something (everything?) to do with this. If I told them we were adopting a baby, would they say they needed more information and consult an attorney? If your first child is a tall African American teenage boy, it's a different world.

I am certain there are laws that protect the rights of adoptive parents in situations like this one and that prohibit racist discrimination on the part of landlords. I was just really hopeful it wouldn't come to a legal dispute. Guess not.

I am so tired of the paperwork and bureaucracy, which have been dragging on for months, and this just feels like the last straw. We're so committed to T., we'd move if we had to in order to adopt him. But I really, really, really hope that isn't necessary. Besides the upheaval, it would delay our home licensing for foster/adopt, because we'd have to start over with the state. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.


marythemom said...

Admittedly I am very passive aggressive, but I would hint that I am thinking about holding a civil liberties meeting with some of my lawyer friends and wanted to know if they knew of some good places to buy ham hocks and greens for the meeting.

Too subtle?

I would definitely mention you are planning on adopting T before they get too involved with the lawyer. They will resent you more if they owe lawyer fees. "Reassure them" that you are not picking up random strangers, and that you were afraid they were assuming he is an adult roommate and that violates your lease or something. (If your T looks anywhere near as old as my Bear this is actually a possibility).

Good Luck!!

Mary in TX

Lulu McCabe said...

Oh my goodness, your response made me laugh and I SO needed to! Great advice, too - I took it, wrote immediately and said "we're pursuing adoption." They still want us to come to their house to "talk" and to provide them with "more information", but I think they're backing down. Fingers crossed. And you're quite right - T. is 6'2" already, and people often regard him as an adult upon first meeting, rather than a 15 year old boy.

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