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Adoption and Foster Care bring unique dynamics into your home.You are faced with culture, context, race and more. Trying to balance, understand and learn in the process can be difficult, confusing and uncomfortable at times. But, we have a responsibility to help our kids discover, understand and experience the culture of their origin.
Our household is diverse. We are much more than a white family with black children. We have “ginger” kids, a dark brown kid, a light brown kid and I am the definition of pale and white! Our kids are Southern American, Haitian and Ethiopian. We live in the South, but don’t have a typical, traditional Southern lifestyle. When we were fostering, our foster child was bi-racial. So, there has always been much to consider in our home.
If you’re an adoptive of foster family, no doubt your dynamics are just as complex and interesting. We have lots of culture, context and situational things that impact our family, and your will too. Developing a plan to help our children understand all of this is not easy! So, we have chosen to focus on just a few areas to do our best, realizing that we will never get it all right.
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3 Things You Can Do In Your Family To Better Understand Culture, Context And Race:
1- Celebrate Culture:
It’s easy to celebrate the culture of biological children because it is our own culture! But, doing that for adopted or foster children is not as easy. We choose to be intentional. We choose to seek out opportunities to go eat Ethiopian food or Haitian food. We try and meet people and develop friendship with others from those places. We choose to network with other adoptive families whose kids are also from those countries. We talk about other cultures. We constantly remind our adopted kids where they were born. We celebrate the differences and learn together. And, yes, we do the same for our biological children. It is important to teach all of our kids to appreciate the culture and context of their origins.
2- Find Mentors:
While our children are still young, we are looking for mentors for them. We look for mentors who can teach them about their cultures. For our children, we want them to have black adults in their lives to help them understand life from a different perspective. I believe if we raise our children without exposure to other cultures, they will have a rude awakening when they leave home and go into the rest of the world one day. Having a mentor will help them. Plus, having other adults in their lives who care for them is a very important part of development.
3- Choose Intentional Experiences:
We make choices every day to help our children experience culture outside of our family unit. We make decisions about recreation, vacation and more that will expose our children to something new, something different and something meaningful. Sometimes it is a choice to leave our neighborhood, our city or more importantly our comfort zone. We want to shelter our children from harm, but not from meaningful experiences. Being sure that our children are ready for life includes helping them gather experience under our intentional watch and care.
The key component to helping your children discover the world is more than a homogeneous environment is to being intentional. Making decision to help our children explore, learn and understand the world around them is crucial.
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At Some Point Everyone Will Ask The Question, Who Am I?
Everyone will experience an identity crisis in this lifetime. It is part of human nature. But, adopted and foster children have a greater crisis to face. We can help ease the crisis if we help them understand who they, where they are from and the cultures that define their origin. Whether is helping a child understand and adjust to a move from East Coast to West Coast, or from Africa to America, we have a responsibility to help our kids understand who they truly are.