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Mixed-race adoptions pose some obstacles for children

Sunday, July 09, 2006
Jeff Gammage

Phil Bertelsen grew up as the biracial, adopted son of white parents. He always felt their profound and enveloping love.

The problem began, he said, when he stepped outside his front door.

At age 13, he was told by the white classmate he considered his girlfriend: "Mother doesn?t want me going out with n------."

"I didn?t know at the time what that was," Bertelsen said, "let alone that it might be me."

When he tried to connect with blacks, "I was tormented and ridiculed," he said. "I certainly wasn?t aware there was a style of behavior or dress or a code of conduct associated with being black."

Bertelsen, a documentary filmmaker who was raised in Highland Park, N.J., defines himself through his work, including the autobiographical Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America....

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