Academic journal article Social Work

Adoption and Race: Implementing the Multiethnic Placement Act and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions

Academic journal article Social Work

Adoption and Race: Implementing the Multiethnic Placement Act and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions

Article excerpt

Passage of the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA) and the 1996 provisions on Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption (Interethnic Adoption Provisions) provides an ideal opportunity to examine what can be done to increase adoptions of foster children, particularly children of color. To assist states and child welfare professionals in serving children better and meeting legal obligations, this article discusses racial matching, MEPA, and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions. Implications for practice and challenges in implementing the law also are discussed. The article suggests principles for adoption practice, recruitment, and placement that provide a framework for simultaneously meeting the requirements of the law and serving the best interests of children. Recommendations for practice, policy, and research are offered.

Key words: adoption; Interethnic Adoption Provisions; Multiethnic Placement Act; racial matching

Until recently, with the passage of the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA) (P.L. 103-382, [subsection] 551-553, 108 Stat. 3518) and the Removal of Barriers to In terethnic Adoption (Interethnic Adoption Provisions), adoption policies and practices throughout the country favored racially matched placements (Alexander & Curtis, 1996). Such placements were considered consistent with good social work practice and in the best interests of children. Using race categorically or presumptively to delay or deny adoptive or foster care placements is now prohibited under the new law. Race still can be among the factors considered, however, when making placement decisions about a particular child. Although the sanctions to be taken against states found in violation of the law are described explicitly in the Interethnic Adoption Provisions, it is not clear how much weight race can be given without constituting unlawful discrimination. Therefore, at a time when they will be held more accountable for their decisions, child welfare professionals will be required to exercise greater expertise and judgment in determining how to consider race when making placement decisions. This article aims to assist states and child welfare professionals in implementing MEPA and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions.

The Adoption and Race Work Group

This article is the product of nearly two years of analysis of racial matching and the child welfare services system by the Adoption and Race Work Group (the Work Group) assembled by the Stuart Foundation. Goals of the Stuart Foundation include strengthening the foster care system and improving child welfare practice. Thus, the board of the Stuart Foundation has been especially concerned about reports of African American children remaining in foster care longer than other children, perhaps as a consequence of racial matching policies and practices. The Stuart Foundation's Work Group was convened initially to examine how race influences child welfare services policy and practice. Passage of MEPA and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions narrowed the Work Group's focus to analyzing how to implement the new law effectively and increase adoptions of foster children in need of permanent homes, particularly foster children of color. Assembling the Work Group also provided an opportunity for experts with varying and often conflicting perspectives on racial matching and transracial placements to attempt to reach consensus on policies and practices that are congruent with the law and that promote the best interests of children served by the child welfare services system.

The steering committee of the Work Group was made up of two chairs (one African American and one white) with significant knowledge of adoption policy and practice, two child welfare researchers from the University of California in Berkeley (one African American and one white), and a representative from the Stuart Foundation (African American). The steering committee selected 11 other Work Group members known for being leading adoption figures in California and in Washington--the two states in which the Stuart Foundation funds projects. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.