Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society

By Katarina Wegar | Go to book overview

12
Adoption, Foster Care, and
Guardianship in Minority Families

SANDRA T. AZAR AND LISA K. HILL

In the United States, between 2.3 million and 4.3 million children live with relatives other than their parents.1 Such situations are not evenly distributed across racial and ethnic groups. More minority children are orphaned or left alone without parents than other children in this country. Living with a relative is six times more common among African American children and one and a half times more common among Hispanic children than among white, nonHispanic children.2 In 1997, this translated to 1.4 million African American children and 600,000 Hispanic children living with relatives.3 Many kin placements are with families living in poverty and occur due to crises. For example, in 1990,10 percent of children on AFDC were in kin care; 29 percent of foster children were with relatives.4 Kin foster placements are more common for minority children (51.8 percent in non-kin homes were Caucasian in one study compared to 18.9 percent in kin homes).5 Of the kinship care youth, 35.1 percent were African American. In California between 1989 and 1996, Andrew GroganKaylor found African American children 1.53 times as likely to enter kinship care and Latino children 1.16 times as likely as Caucasian children.6

This chapter focuses on the unique issues in foster care, guardianship, and adoption in minority families. Although the data used for this discussion come from formal placements of children, most placements with kin are informal. Indeed, Roy Grant reports that in a federal study of four states (New York, California, Illinois, and Missouri), only 15.5 percent of children in kinship care were formally placed.7 However, because formal placement is associated with urban settings where high concentrations of minorities live, minority status is linked with greater formal placement rates. African American children were eight times more likely to be in kinship foster care than children of other races or ethnicities in the four states studied.8

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