Foster Care and the Importance of Cultivating a Healthy Awareness of Cultural and Racial Identity

As a former foster youth who grew up in culturally diverse homes, I want to share with you the importance of embracing diversity when becoming a foster or adoptive parent. I am half Black and half Japanese and grew up in Hawaii and have lived in many different homes with various cultural backgrounds. It can be daunting to consider the various cultures and races that children in care may come from, but being open-minded, sincere, and sensitive can make a world of difference in their lives.

The first step to embracing diversity is to approach each child with an open mind. Recognize that each child has their unique background and experiences that shape who they are. By being willing to learn and understand their culture, you can create a supportive and loving environment for the child to grow and thrive.

One of the most crucial aspects of becoming a foster or adoptive parent is to be sincere. Children can pick up on insincerity, and it may make them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in your home. It is crucial to approach the child with genuine interest in learning about their culture and background.

Sensitivity is also critical in creating an inclusive environment. Every child has unique needs, and it is essential to approach them with compassion and empathy. Take the time to understand their individual experiences and challenges and provide support where needed.

Allowing children to explore their culture is a vital component of fostering or adoption. Encourage them to embrace their heritage by incorporating cultural traditions and practices into your daily routine. You can also provide resources and opportunities for them to learn more about their culture, such as attending cultural events or connecting with their cultural community.

In fact when I first got adopted in 7th grade my mom encouraged me to pursue learning about my Japanese heritage. She had learned of a summer cultural event called Obon and that it was being held at a nearby Japanese temple. I told her I was interested and she drove me over to the festival and I ended up staying the entire night and got a ride home with friends. 

As a potential foster or adoptive parent, there are several call-to-actions that you can implement right away to create a diverse and inclusive home.

  • First, educate yourself on the different cultures and backgrounds that your child(ren) in care may come from.
  • Second, create a welcoming environment that celebrates diversity and promotes cultural exploration.
  • Lastly, foster open communication and dialogue with your child and other foster and adoptive parents to create a supportive and inclusive community.

In conclusion, becoming a foster or adoptive parent is an incredibly rewarding experience that requires an open mind, sincerity, sensitivity, and a willingness to learn. Embracing diversity and allowing children to explore their culture can have a significant impact on their lives and well-being. I encourage you to approach fostering and adoption with an open heart and mind and create a welcoming environment for every child in your care.

Short video on what makes a good foster parent.

If you were formerly in foster care, I encourage you to continue the conversation and join my Facebook community called Formerly Fostered Forever Loved. This community is a safe and supportive space for current and former foster youth, as well as advocates and supporters of the community. We collaborate on informative dialogue and conversation to support, aid, and inform others.

By joining our community, you will have access to valuable resources and support from individuals who share similar experiences. You can ask questions, share your story, and connect with others who have gone through similar challenges

Together, we can create a supportive and inclusive community that empowers and uplifts former and current foster youth. Join our community today.

Thank you for considering this call-to-action and for your commitment to fostering inclusivity and diversity in the lives of foster youth.

Interested in learning more about getting involved in foster care or becoming better resourced as foster parents? Check out these recent webinars from America’s Kids Belong

Dairius Kawewehi – a former foster youth – is now a graduate from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and was commissioned in the US Navy for nearly seven years. Dairius is passionate about helping others who are coming from foster care find healing and wholeness and to never give up on their dreams.

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