New Families – Old Hearts

Haiti-adoption-programEvery year there is a similar number of children who are taken into the foster care system. Programs such as Adoption and Safe Families Act work to make sure that when children are being taken away from their parents it is because of a neglecting environment. The families that choose to adopt a child may or may not be taking in some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world. This being said it’s essential that orphans hold an awareness of their own identity and culture. How can we make sure that new families preserve individual needs apart from themselves and others?

Voltaire took great interest in Asian philosophy inspiring him to write ‘Chinese Orphan’ originally created by poet Junxiang. The story is well known amongst China and revolves around the story of an actual orphan. The child moves from one environment to the next confronting different variables that contribute to what he becomes at the end of the story. Although the theme is considered tragic we can compare it to the new homes foster children and orphans come into after they are taken away from their family.

Possessing a confident sense of self relates to cultural identity. A child’s traditional practices and views mold them and help them form relationships with people they feel comfortable with. Having a cultural identity gives us an important sense of belonging – it helps us find things that we love and pushes us to do so with purpose. The best gift that can come from a new family is support and the ability to acknowledge their child’s differences, making them feel comfortable in a new and often intimidating environment. Not everyone is open to strong cultural identity in their personal lives and it often causes barriers between groups of people or excludes one person. A child will do their best in a new home when they feel loved through social acceptance, open-mindedness and unconditional care.

Are there cross cultural issues in the foster care system? What does it take to become someone who can legally adopt a child? It is challenging to identify whether or not differences are accepted into a new home. If the system created a new way of allowing families to adopt children it may improve the child’s self-esteem and the dynamics of their future. A new family must understand and remain respectful toward unique values, beliefs, personal preferences and traditions apart from their own. If they are not respected it could change the child’s perception of their own identity in their new environment. It’s the job of the system to look into the home, family and the child continuously ensuring that there is enough acceptance and sincere care.