Even if Love is Colorblind, Kids Aren’t

Feb 16, 2015

In Iowa, there are around 6,000 kids in the foster care system. While many of those are children of color, foster parents are mostly white. How much does it matter?

Tesfay Russell moved to Mt. Vernon when he was 11. Before that, Ethiopia was his home.

Russell was adopted into a family that he says made him feel immediately welcome and encouraged him to hold onto his culture and his first language. But life wasn’t perfect.

“One time we were getting a Christmas family photo at the mall. We had our church clothes on. I arrived late, so I didn’t see this first hand, but there were officers who came to talk to us. There had been issues with African American kids stealing.”  

Growing up as an Ethiopian boy in a state that is largely white, Russell says though it didn’t always bother him, he was aware he looked different than most Iowans.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Russell about growing up in a community and in a household where not everybody shared his skin color or culture. Meghann Foster, who is an adoptive mother of two biracial children, and Penny McGee, Statewide Recruitment Leader for Iowa KidsNet, also tell their stories.

Hear Talk of Iowa weekdays mornings at 10:00 a.m. on Iowa Public Radio.