How Will Michael Jackson's 'White' Kids Get Along in a Black Family?

It's the moment from Michael Jackson's memorial service that people are still talking about: daughter Paris-Michael, surrounded by her aunts and uncles, took the stage and proclaimed her daddy the "best father you could ever imagine."

In the coming months and years, 11-year-old Paris and her two brothers, Prince I, 12, and Prince II, 7, will have many adjustments to make without their famous father -- not the least of which may be growing up in a family in which their fair skin will noticeably set them apart.

Since Jackson's death, the children have been staying with their grandmother, Katherine Jackson, at her Encino, Calif., estate. A judge granted her temporary custody, and she has filed to become the children's permanent guardian.

There's nothing unusual about black families taking in their kin. Historically, they have often done so, but when the children look more white than black, eyebrows -- and stereotypes -- get raised.

Even with trans-racial adoptions on the rise, it's still far more common to see white parents with adopted Asian or black children than the reverse. Steve Martin made a joke out of being adopted by black parents in the movie "The Jerk," but all kidding aside, it's still extremely rare for black parents to adopt a non-black child.

"It's much less of a two-way street," said Robert O'Connor, an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn., who studies trans-racial adoptions.

Adoptions of infants domestically and abroad remains an "overwhelmingly a white phenomenon," said Adam Pertman, executive director for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research and advocacy group.

Though blacks have often informally helped raise their relatives -- the "it takes a village" model -- only in recent years have they begun to formally adopt and, mostly through the foster care system, where blacks are disproportionately represented, Pertman added.

"It's rare for someone black to say, 'I want to adopt someone white,' because there are a lot of black kids in the system," Pertman said.

Because of that rarity, white children of black parents can face a unique set of challenges.

Questions About Michael Jackson's Children

It's always been presumed the Jackson children are bi-racial. But questions have begun surfacing about whether Jackson was actually the birth father.

Days after Jackson's death, Us Weekly claimed the pop star's dermatologist Arnold Klein was the father of the two oldest children, Paris and Michael Jr., known as Prince. But Klein told "Good Morning America" this week that, "To the best of my knowledge, I am not the father of these children."

Jackson friends have said that the King of Pop always wanted children with blond hair and blue eyes, and Paris and Michael Jr.'s biological mother, Debbie Rowe, is exactly that.

Jackson's youngest son, known as Blanket, was born to a surrogate and his mother remains unknown.

Living With Jackson's Family Will Be Different

The children did not appear so dramatically different from their famous dad, whose own skin color had undergone a radical transformation since childhood. But, living with their black relatives may require some adjustments, especially since the children, who lived a sheltered and nomadic existence with their father, have not spent extensive time with them.

But O'Connor believes the Jackson children will have to make fewer adjustments living with their grandmother than they would with Rowe.

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