Adoption Triad: Practicing Adoption Competence by Examining the Impact of Race, Culture, and Diversity

Children and youth who are adopted often have experienced trauma and need help sorting through complicated feelings stemming from their adoption and past experiences. Rather than being a one-time event, adoption is an ongoing process that requires continuous support long after papers are signed. To provide that support, child welfare professionals and other service providers should have adoption competence—the specific knowledge, skills, and values required to meet the complex, unique needs of adopted children and youth and their families.

According to the(NTI), two key principles of adoption competence are evaluating the impact of race, culture, and diversity and promoting positive identity development. Young people adopted by a family of a different racial, ethnic, or cultural background may face challenges understanding their roots, healing from past trauma, staying connected to their cultural communities, and developing within the context of a new family. These challenges impact many adoptive families, since even families who share certain backgrounds and characteristics with their adopted children, such as race, likely experience other cultural differences, such as religion, language, geographic location, socioeconomic status, and more. Adoption-competent support, such as culturally responsive post adoption services, family therapy, or other mental health services, can help ease a young person’s transition to their adoptive family, provide stability, and strengthen the family overall.


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