Friday, November 7, 2008

Interacial Adoption

It is widely known that there are a disproportionate number of minority children in foster care. Preliminary 2006 information from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) shows that 60% of children waiting to be adopted are minorities, 32% of whom are African Americans. The 1994 Howard M. Metzenbaum Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) was put in place with the long-overdue goal of “preventing discrimination in the placement of children on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The intent was to place children with adoptive families who could best meet their needs, regardless of ethic or racial background. Fourteen years later the statistics are still distressing, but progress has been made.

The annual AFCARS report reveals a promising trend, indicating that the population in foster homes is beginning to more closely resemble the national population. Statistics from 1998 show that the number of African American children in foster care was 43%, significantly higher than the 32% reported in 2003. There would seem to be a direct correlation between the MEPA ruling and this normalization of the racial makeup in foster homes. Hopefully, strides are being made to support minority children, who much more often enter adulthood never having found a permanent home.

The National Adoption Center recognizes the benefit of finding adoptive parents whose backgrounds children can identify with. To meet that need, we actively engage in the recruitment of families that fit the diverse cultures of waiting children. We also know that matches sometimes transcend ethnic backgrounds and interracial adoption often is a great choice as well. If an interracial placement occurs, agencies should be required to provide additional support to preserve children's racial and cultural connections.

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