Eleven year old Mathew Paul’s favorite sport is Basketball. His favorite player is…
“My favorite player is Michael Jordan.”
Another thing about Mathew. He’s adopted.
Ed and Nancy Paul adopted Mathew and his three brothers when Mathew was just four. The boys are biracial. Ed and Nancy are white. Nancy believes her work as a inner city youth pastor is what made her receptive to the idea of having children of a different ethnicity.
“My growing up was really difficult. And I think you can take a difficult situation and turn it to something good. And I thought that it made me more empathetic in some ways to children who were hurting.”
For Ed, it was also his childhood that shaped his thoughts on race and ultimately made him receptive to children of a different ethnicity.
“I saw some people not be able to drink from public water fountains and there was a restaurant that you had to go in one side or the other depending on your color and all of that really affected me.”
The Paul family’s story isn’t as unique as you might think. There is a disproportionate number of minorities in the Texas Foster Care system — especially African-American children — and many of those who are adopted are being placed with non-black parents.
Dejuana Jernigan is a director at Houston’s DePelchin Children’s Center.
“The problem is is that there are so many children who are African American who are in the foster care system that that disproportionality just makes it almost impossible for the number of prospective families to keep up with the numbers who are in the system.”
Jernigan says they try to match children with parents of the same ethnic background, but ultimately, the main goal is just finding them a home.
“Couples who choose to use a private agency most often are seeking infants. The fees can range from 10 to 25 thousand dollars and there’s often a waiting list.”
With children in the foster care system there is no fee. Angela Harden is a supervisor at Houston’s Spaulding for Children, another local foster care and adoption agency.
“Spaulding does not charge fees for the adoption process. As a matter of fact, if the child meets certain requirement the state will pay you a stipend to take special needs children.”
Harden says there’s a misconception that they don’t have infants. She says because of the drug problem in society, many babies are taken from the mom immediately if it tests positive for substances. If you do take an infant, the agencies would prefer you adopt their siblings as well.
That’s what the Paul family did. And they couldn’t be happier.
Bill Stamps, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.