Latino Foster Families in San Diego

It’s been a while since my last post, which I completely blame on my job…Since then I stumbled upon this interesting article that just appeared on New American Media.  It talks about a new non-profit that has sprung up in San Diego that gives priority to the many Latino orphans to Latino foster families.

“Humphreys said that Latino children face critical conditions in San Diego County’s foster care system.
“Latino babies are the silent crisis in foster care,” she said. “The biggest need for foster care is coming out of homes with Latino, monolingual families. We see a lot of domestic violence, poverty, abuse, homelessness.” ”

I couldn’t help but read this paragraph and say…”but but, what about us?”  While this org is in no way an adoption agency, it does bring up some fairly insightful arguments about the importance of retaining culture when the goal is family reunification.  What would happen if we looked at adoption in this same way?  Perhaps changing the goal in international adoption would change the nature in which agencies and parents are educated and instructed to raise their children.

My birth mother was a victim of domestic violence, and my birth father fled before I was born.  If a study is done evaluating these same measures of domestic violence for these birth mothers in Asian countries, I bet the same conclusion would be met.  Instead of being seen as ‘silent crisis’ babies we are seen as new opportunities for prospective parents in the U.S. and many European countries.

The article further goes on to say, ” Latino children face special language and cultural barriers when placed in non-Latino foster care families, Humphreys said.

“Some children only speak Spanish or their diets might be different, like including tortillas and beans,” she said. “About 75 percent of our children are placed in Latino homes.” ”

Some Asian transracial adoptees do not know enough about their mother tongue for “language preservation” to be a concern.  But what about the dietary needs of adoptees?  This was surely not taken into consideration when the adoption papers for me began to fly.

““By ensuring youngsters are matched with loving families that provide a stable and culturally-relevant home experience, La Cuna is addressing the most critical factors affecting many of our community’s un-parented children: The need for a strong sense of self and exposure to essential family values during their formative years,” said David Bejarano, chair of La Cuna’s board of directors.””

Are adoptees afforded this same logic when being considered for adoption?  Agencies aren’t allowed to practice race placements, but what about our “strong sense of self and exposure to essential family values during” OUR formative years?  These concerns are deeply considered in organization.  And the cultural consideration afforded to these children are all a result of their mission to reunite families.

If we changed the very essence of international transracial adoption, perhaps then we’d be afforded the same right to a cultural and linguistic existence.  But it’s still frustrating to know that as long as adoption hinges upon family building rather than reunification less thought will be go into the importance of retaining culture and promoting healthy identity formation.

Without further ado, here’s the article…G.S.

Foster Children Find Latino-friendly Homes

Agency has high success rate placing Latino babies

La Prensa San Diego, News Report, Pablo Jaime Sáinz, Posted: Sep 17, 2007

Traducción al español

SAN DIEGO — “Joey” is a two-year old Latino boy who lived in four foster homes in less than a month. His biological parents abandoned him, so he is in desperate need of a permanent, stable home and family where he will be able to develop into a healthy, matured adult.

Being in foster care, “Joey” might have all odds against him. But thanks to the help of a local foster family agency, “Joey” was recently placed with a loving, responsible foster Latino family.

“Joey” is the 50th baby that the non-profit, independent foster family agency La Cuna has placed since April 2005, date when it received its licensure.

In almost two years and a half, La Cuna has been able to secure a stable, safe place for 50 Latino children that are part of the County of San Diego’s foster care system.

Fifty children are equal to fifty human beings that will grow up to become good members of our society, said Rachel Humphreys, La Cuna executive director.

“It’s a milestone for us,” said Humphreys, who founded La Cuna in 2003 and, together with a group of concerned individuals, began working on the licensing requirement to become a foster family agency. “Some people used to say we wouldn’t even place 12 children in one year, and now, less than three years later, we have placed 50.”

La Cuna, which means “the cradle,” in Spanish, was established to address the shortage of quality foster homes serving Latino babies and toddlers. Its mission is “to develop programs that allow foster infants to grow up healthy and happy, and to evaluate the results and create best practices that will improve the lives of Hispanic foster infants throughout California.”

Humphreys said that Latino children face critical conditions in San Diego County’s foster care system.
“Latino babies are the silent crisis in foster care,” she said. “The biggest need for foster care is coming out of homes with Latino, monolingual families. We see a lot of domestic violence, poverty, abuse, homelessness.”

According to La Cuna information, the most current statistics for San Diego County, the breakdown of local children in foster care show that 2,423 are Latino children, 1,723 are White children, and 1,423 are black children.

Latino children face special language and cultural barriers when placed in non-Latino foster care families, Humphreys said.

“Some children only speak Spanish or their diets might be different, like including tortillas and beans,” she said. “About 75 percent of our children are placed in Latino homes.”

Foster care children have a difficult time adjusting to their situations.

Some 30 percent of all San Diego foster children ages five and under have been placed in five or more homes, according to La Cuna information.

And 80 percent of those who are incarcerated have been in foster care. Nationwide, 50 percent of former foster youth become homeless during their first two years of exiting the system.

“By ensuring youngsters are matched with loving families that provide a stable and culturally-relevant home experience, La Cuna is addressing the most critical factors affecting many of our community’s un-parented children: The need for a strong sense of self and exposure to essential family values during their formative years,” said David Bejarano, chair of La Cuna’s board of directors.

La Cuna is not an adoption agency. Each child placed with a La Cuna family has a reunification plan with his or her biological parents. Unless it puts the child at risk, agency staff strongly support that plan. The social workers coach each foster parent on ways to support the potential reunification process.

La Cuna is always recruiting Latinos for foster parents to provide safe, stable, and loving homes to Latino foster infants and toddlers. The requirements are not as tough as many people think, Humphreys said.

“We need to find quality families, of one, couples, grandparents, they don’t have to be wealthy, they just need a lot of ganas to take care of a child. We need parents that are committed.”

La Cuna has developed a foster parent training program to address the cultural and linguistic needs of Latino babies, like “Joey,” who’s now living with loving foster parents.

Humphreys said that La Cuna’s success rate, which stands for placing children in stable homes, is at 96 percent.

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One Comment on “Latino Foster Families in San Diego

  1. I have so much love to give…have an 8 year old child, she is beatiful. I am a single mother do not have much to offer, not rich waiting for the list on the HUD program. Won’t be able to work. I have trigeminal neuralgia it prevents me from working. That does not prohibit me from caring or loving a hispanic child. Am no bound in any way, have the time to dedicate to a child. Not looking for a child because, need to. I know this might be to much to ask. It has been on my mind for so long..just needed to let you know. I know this is impossible a child deserves sooo much more. live with my parents, or my parents came to live with me from Ontario, CA. Even thouht that it would great to get twins. Now living in a 2 bedroom house, would like to get a 4 bedroom house.

    If not to much to ask, I would appreciate if you would please respond. Even to know negative response…would not like to always wait.

    Martha

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