MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- rallied outside the Alabama State House today to condemn Rep. Alvin Holmes remarks last month that white parents rarely adopt black children.
We will never move forward away from racism as long as we have leaders holding on to the past and turning everything into a race issue, Beverly Owings said. There are many transracial families, including adoptive families, living in Alabama.
As a parent, you do everything you can to build your child s self-esteem, and it is very offensive when someone purposely degrades a certain population of children. Children are not born racist. They learn racism from their environment.
Owings and her husband have adopted four children, including a 13-year old daughter who is biracial. She and others said today that Holmes comments were racist and hurtful.State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery
In March, during debate in the Alabama House of Representatives on a bill concerning abortion regulations, rather than give birth to a child with a black father. Holmes offered to pay 0,000 to someone who could show him a large number of white parents in Alabama have adopted black children.
was set up in response to Holmes comments.
Holmes stood by his comments today.
The majority of white people in Alabama are against interracial marriage and they are against adoption of black children, Holmes said.
What's his evidence? Holmes pointed to a constitutional amendment he sponsored in 2000. It removed the state's ban on interracial marriage. The ban had already been unenforceable for decades because of court rulings, but it had remained on the books until then.
Voters that year approved removing the ban by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, but Holmes said an analysis of precincts done by the Alabama Democratic Conference showed that a majority of whites voted against it.
"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," Holmes said.
Holmes said he thought younger white people are not opposed to interracial marriage and adoptions, but that "99 percent" of older whites are.
Brooke Poague, a lawyer who practices family law, was one of the speakers at today's rally. Poague said some parents who want to adopt have a racial preference, but she said the vast majority do not.
Holmes said a State House rally does not disprove his point about whites rarely adopting black children.
"I know they had a little group up there at the Capitol," Holmes said. "But you've got four million people in the state of Alabama. You can get a small group to take a position on anything."
The Alabama Department of Human Resources told AL.com on Monday it did not immediately have any statistics on interracial adoptions. DHR oversees the state's foster care system.
Tijuanna Adetunji, a Republican who is challenging Holmes in the general election in November in House District 78, attended the rally and denounced Holmes' comments.
"It's time for the 40 years that we've had this man in office to go," Adetunji said.
Holmes said he had not met Adetunji. "But I understand that she's a fine lady and from a fine family," he said. "And I certainly hope and wish her family well."
Kai Mumpfield, a regional coordinator for Alabama Pre/Post Adoption Connections, a collaborative effort between the Children's Aid Society and DHR, said race is not a main concern when trying to match a child with adoptive parents. She said the children's needs are considered first. Mumpfield said there are 265 foster children in Alabama's whose parents have had their parental rights terminated and are in need of permanent homes.
"We want this to be an opportunity to recruit more families, more Caucasian, African American and Hispanic families," she said.
Poague and Owings said they hoped Holmes' comments about adoption will help make more people aware of the needs of children awaiting adoption.
"There are over 250 children waiting for adoption in Alabama," Owings said. "As you can see, many families here today have already stepped forward to fulfill the need. My prayer is that God will turn those negative harmful words from Holmes around and draw more adoptive families in."
Poague said, "God tends to use things in good ways."
In deeply personal responses, dozens of former inmates, family members of current inmates and volunteers with prison ministries have given detailed accounts of how their experiences with the facility continue to affect their lives.
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