Beyond the Birth Family
African American Children Reared by Alternative Caregivers
Ellen E. Pinderhughes
and Brenda Jones Harden
African American children grow up in diverse family settings, ranging from “nuclear” families to households headed by single parents to a variety of extended family situations. A small but significant group of African American children do not reside with their birth parents, but are reared by kin (blood relatives), foster and adoptive families, as well as families united through legal guardianship. Across these diverse family arrangements there are common challenges or issues confronting parents and caregivers of African American children. As in all families, one set of challenges includes using a parenting style and engaging in parenting processes that will facilitate effective childrearing. Unique to families of color, another challenge is helping children develop with an appreciation of their cultural legacy and an understanding of the potential discrimination they will face. Because these themes are universal for families raising African American children, we leave further discussion of these themes to other chapters in this book. This chapter, instead, examines issues unique to African American children in the most common alternative caregiving arrangements—specifically, kinship care, foster care, and adoption.
Because these families are created by the removal of children from their biological parents, there are unique challenges with which caregiver, child, and biological parent must contend. Whether the removal is