Families Protest Alabama Lawmaker's Racist Comments

Adoptive parents in Alabama are firing back against state Rep. Alvin Holmes and the race-based, controversial comments he made during an abortion-bill debate in March. In addition to claiming that 99 percent of white legislators would force their daughters to have an abortion if impregnated by a black man, Holmes also said, "I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama. I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in 20 dollar bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase." Now he may need to head to the bank, as families who have done just that staged a press conference at the Alabama State House Wednesday.

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“Rep. Holmes’ statements were very offensive. He implied transracial adoptions do not happen in Alabama, which is far from the truth,” notes a press release about the demonstration that was posted on the Facebook page for the group Faces of Families in Alabama. “It’s important to publicly counteract his statements with the truth. If not, it could cause children of transracial families to feel inferior, and cause some families considering transracial adoptions to change their minds.” After the press conference, the page was updated with the status, "So many families represented at the State House today because you shared your photos!"

Holmes, a Democrat, real estate agent and father of one in Montgomery, was first elected as a state representative in 1974. He made his comments during the debate of a bill that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. Holmes did not respond to a message seeking comment from Yahoo Shine.

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“Anything he can do to cause controversies surrounding race are what he’s been known for doing for years,” Beverly Owings, an Alabama mother of four adopted children including a 13-year-old biracial daughter, tells Yahoo Shine. Owings joined Facebook friend April Hadden in getting Faces of Families of Alabama off the ground. “When my daughter heard [Holmes’s] comments, she said, ‘Mom, what about our family?’ And as a mom, I knew I had to step up,” Owings explains. 

Since it was launched on April 2, the page has been liked more than 4,000 times, and has inspired many families to post touching photos of their transracial families, along with comments including, “These are my kids!” and “Me and my son — he may be adopted on paper, but he is all mine in my heart.” One commenter, in response to news of Wednesday’s press conference, noted, “Get that cash ready, Mr. Holmes! Better yet, prepare a public apology.”

It’s been very encouraging to Owings. “I had no doubt the families were out there, but I have been in amazement,” she says. “I can’t believe the response.”

Another post came from Joy Mikell Portis, an mother of eight children, many of whom are adopted. “Meet our family. We see people, not skin color and there are many more families like ours here in Montgomery and all over the state of Alabama!” she wrote alongside a family portrait. Shortly thereafter, Portis, who blogs about her family here, told WSFA, “Families are created in all different ways, in all different colors and all different abilities. We love our children. I don't look at them and see my African-American child or my child with Downs Syndrome. We love them all the same.”

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