‘Culturally Fluent Families’ Model Seeks to Help Parents and Kids in Transracial Adoptions

Valarie Chavis created the program to educate parents about the importance of helping their children develop a positive racial identity.

Ashley Foster March 08, 2018
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Culturally Fluent Families is a program that has been created to help white parents raise non-white children to be confident adults who are well-adjusted and culturally educated.

Adopting a child of a different race can pose a unique set of challenges. Since the first documented case of transracial adoption of a black child in 1948, our country has come a long way in understanding the need for immersion in both the child’s biological and adoptive cultures.

Valarie Chavis adopted two children from Ethiopia in 2009. She stayed behind in their home country for a while so she could experience them in their native culture. She also joined an online group for transracial adoption support. What she found on the website was disturbing to her. There were many white parents raising black children who were full of misconceptions about their child’s culture. Speaking of the group she said, “There was every kind of stereotype coming from these people who were going to parent these kids. I’m not saying they were bad people. It was just a shock to me, the level of the lack of understanding there was, the lack of positive thought about the culture.” It was that experience that led her to create Culturally Fluent Families.

Rhonda Roorda, author and international speaker, says, “I do think it’s possible to successfully raise children of color as white parents. It is a bold and complex journey that requires added knowledge, added experience, added expertise, and a whole lot of humility.” She stresses the importance of the child feeling comfortable in his or her own skin, as well as understanding the history of black people in America. Roorda believes that complacency and a sense of colorblindness will ultimately only lead to failure.

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Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster is a freelance writer. She is a wife and mother of two currently residing in Florida. She loves taking trips to the beach with her husband and sons. As an infant, she was placed with a couple in a closed adoption. Ashley was raised with two sisters who were also adopted. In 2016, she was reunited with her biological family. She advocates for adoptees' rights and DNA testing for those who are searching for family. Above all, she is thankful that she was given life. You can read her blog at http://ashleysfoster.blogspot.com/.

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