Wednesday, June 22, 2016

MEPA and Training Adoptive Parents on Issues of Race

April Dinwiddie, transracial adoptee and chief executive of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, writes in the Chronicle of Social Change of the importance of adoptive parents addressing racial differences:

It shocks me that today, even with all that we know from research and lived experiences, there are still adoptive families who are simply not addressing these differences in a healthy way – and that is across the board in both adoption from foster care and private adoption.

This reticence to acknowledge the obvious is further complicated by policies like MEPA-IEP (Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996) that may have been well-intended yet have often been interpreted in ways that counteract widely accepted best practices. Not impeding an adoption based on a parent’s race is an appropriate goal; however, it should not be translated to mean we shouldn’t engage in transformational conversation surrounding race, class and culture in preparing and supporting transracial adoptive families.

At the Adoption Initiative Conference a few weeks ago, an otherwise-fabulous speaker said something that I often hear at adoption conferences: that the 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act prohibits adoption agencies, both private and public, from offering training on racial issues to prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt transracially. That is demonstrably false.  The Act (as amended by the 1996 Inter-Ethnic Placement Amendments), prohibits delay or denial of adoptions on the basis of race. It does not reference training at all. But this rather common misunderstanding may explain why, in a study published in the Adoption Quarterly in 2003 only "about half of the agencies that facilitate transracial adoption provide relevant training."

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