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Training Program Addresses Racial Equity Issues in the Adoption Process

With November being National Adoption Month, the National Adoption Association hopes its racial equity training program will help members improve the adoption process and create stronger bonds in the families they serve.

November is National Adoption Month, a time to celebrate families who have been formed through adoption, including foster care, and encourage others to consider providing a home to a child.

The National Adoption Association (NAA), which focuses on adoptions from the foster care system, is hoping its Racial Equity in Adoption Program will provide more tailored guidance to its members so the adoption process can go more smoothly for families.

Currently, there are 117,000 U.S. children eligible for adoption in that system, and they are predominantly racial minorities. Last year, after the protests surrounding George Floyd’s death, NAA CEO Kamilah Bunn said many of those children expressed the need for more assistance.

“We were hearing from young people who were placed, especially those placed transracially, about a need for safety, about a need for conversation, a need for connectivity with people who understand their life experience—about being Black in America,” Bunn said.

NAA—whose members include public and private child welfare agencies, as well as individual practitioners—realized this was a key issue for the populations their members served, and that members needed to better understand how racial equity plays a role in adoptive family building.

“It is particularly important, if we are going to be working with families who are going to adopt a child outside their own race,” Bunn said. “Families have to understand what that will mean and how that will manifest in life for the child.”

The Racial Equity in Adoption Program, which was initially supposed to be a handful of meetings, was so popular among members, NAA continues to work on the initiative and archived past work online. “Access to all of our foundational and strategy sessions are on our website, so members can watch and get support, depending on where they are in their journey,” Bunn said.

We were hearing from young people who were placed, especially those placed transracially, about a need for safety, about a need for conversation, a need for connectivity with people who understand their life experience—about being Black in America.

NAA CEO Kamilah Bunn

Another element that emerged from the program was a new strategy related to recruiting adoptive parents.

“One strategy our members highlighted was diligent recruitment, which is recruiting, developing, and supporting families from the communities in which the children came,” Bunn said. “So doing recruitment work, fairs, and other ways to attract families that reflect the children whom we’re serving in foster care.”

Because NAA is focused on children in the foster care system, who tend to be older, it hopes this work will lead to improvements that make the process more welcoming to families willing to open their hearts and homes to teens.

“It really does matter, especially when our young people are coming back and saying, ‘I need more support,’ or ‘I wish I knew.’ Families of color are saying, ‘Gee, there are so many barriers associated with this process; why is that?’” Bunn said. “We hope that by increasing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our members as they’re carrying out the more direct services, that our families will have a much better experience interacting with our systems.”

(digitalskillet/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a senior editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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