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The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Explores Interracial Adoptions

Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 & (IEP) of 1996 Not Helping


Updated November 23, 2009

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released a report that explores the issue of race and adoption. The study, Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race & Law in Adoption from Foster Care, that was released May 2008, suggests that the Multiethnic Placement Act or MEPA of 1994, and the Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoption Provisions or IEP of 1996, have not brought about the finalization of more African American children from foster care. The study points out that MEPA states that race can not be the main point in the selection of an adoptive family, while IEP made is so that race could not be an element of consideration at all. MEPA also calls for the recruiting of prospective adoptive parents that closely reflect the needs of the children in foster care, this includes physical and cultural similarities.

The Adoption Institute wanted the purpose of the paper to be very clear and so made the following statement: "The purpose of this paper is not to impede or prevent transracial adoptions or to promote racial matching; rather, it seeks to apply relevant knowledge to the practice of child welfare adoptions in order to best serve children and families."

Key Discoveries

  • African American children in the foster care system still wait for adoptive homes longer than White children.
  • African American children remain in foster care approximately 9 months longer than White children.

  • The implementation of MEPA-IEP has not seemed to bring about the needed changes to help African American children find homes. It's also inadvertently tied the hands of adoption agencies and social workers from properly preparing adoptive families for the task of parenting outside their own race.

  • There is a need for more recruitment of African American families for the children in care.

Ideas for Future Change

  • That the best interest of a child must be the main focus when looking for adoptive homes. The focus of children in need is also of importance in all adoption related laws, policies, and practices.

  • Rework MEPA and IEP so that race is allowed to be a consideration, but not the only point to consider when looking at prospective adoptive homes. Rewrite IEP to permit adoptive parents to receive instruction on interracial parenting issues.

  • Actively seek prospective adoptive families that meet the needs of children in foster care, especially those of the same race as children in care.

  • Reach out to the community and create ties with various cultural and religious groups.

  • Support adoption by a child's extended family or find the financial support for guardianship.

  • Provide post-adoption support services from placement through a child's adolescence to help families address a transracially adopted child's needs.

This study was endorsed by the following: North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Child Welfare League of America, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Adoption Exchange Association, the National Association of Black Social Workers, Voice for Adoption [1], and the Foster Care Alumni of America. In addition, the National Association of Social Workers, which has no policy for supporting research papers per se, endorses its recommendations.

Finding Families for African American Children: The Role of Race & Law in Adoption from Foster Care

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