Kinship Foster Care and Adoption: Telling the Truth When It's "All in the Family"
Many foster and adoptive families are created when a child is remove from the care of his or her parents and placed with close or extended family members. In fact, relative adoptions are historically the most common form of adoption, since most cultures encourage the adoption (formal or informal) of orphaned children by extended family members. Kinship care creates an unusual challenge for a family: telling the child the truth about the past when that truth involves a close family member. This chapter will discuss the joys and hazards unique to kinship care and ways to keep communication sensible, sensitive, and healthy.
"A study by Kari Sandven, Ph.D., of the Riverside Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Michael D. Resnick, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, found that the acceptance of informal adoption dates back to the kinship structures of ancient African cultures. It was customary then for aunts and uncles to help raise one another's children, creating the tradition of shared rather than exclusive parenting. Three generations of family lived together, and there were flexible boundaries that emphasized the clan over the nuclear family. The concept 'It takes a village to raise a child' began here." 1
While the numbers of kinship placements have been increasing dramatically in recent years, the phenomenon of both formal and informal kinship placements has always existed in this country. A formal kinship