Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

The common law speaks to us in parables. Ours is Drummond v. Fulton County Department of Family and Children's Services. Just before Christmas 1973, a boy named Timmy was born to a white mother and a black father. A month later, his mother was declared unfit, and the Department of Family and Children Services placed Timmy with white foster parents - Robert and Mildred Drummond. The Drummonds were "excellent" and "loving" parents, and Timmy grew into "an extremely bright, highly verbal, outgoing 15-month baby boy." Then the Drummonds asked to adopt Timmy. The Department's reviews of the Drummonds' devotion to Timmy remained enthusiastic, if condescending, but the Department told the Drummonds that Timmy needed a black family. The Drummonds "'stated they could let Timothy go to a young, energetic, religious, adoptive couple. They expressed primary concern that he not be moved from their home to another foster home .... They feel that separation from Timothy will tear their hearts out but that they can do it because it would be best for Timothy in the long run.'" In August 1975, a Department evaluation concluded that the Drummonds had given Timmy "'excellent care"' and had "'accepted a mixed race child and ... handled the attendant problems well.'" In September, a court terminated Timmy's parents' rights and freed him for adoption. The Drummonds said they would "'do anything we [the social workers] suggested to go through a series of intensive interviews with black caseworker [sic] to help them understand the black culture and heritage, to read books and other literature in order to educate themselves in the black experience, and to talk with their own black friends at work about their feelings and experiences about being black."' The social workers acknowledged that "'[t]he fact that there presently are no appropriate homes for Timmy, and the fact that he might also experience some rejection by some members of the black community due to his 'whiteness' is [sic] also a consideration."' In November 1975, when Timmy was almost two years old, the Department told the Drummonds "that Timmy will be better off adopted by a black couple." The Drummonds sued to be allowed to adopt, and after their odyssey through the Georgia and federal courts, the Fifth Circuit en bane (on November 28, 1977, when Timmy was almost four) held against the Drummonds, since "'the difficulties inherent in interracial adoption' justify the consideration of 'race as a relevant factor .... "'


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