The issue of ethnicity and adoption in children’s social work services is a controversial and complex area of child care practice. Ethnic matching has been regarded as a successful way to place children and provide BME (Black and minority ethnic) children with a stable and settled placement. Crucially, it is argued that ethnically matched placements encourage and nurture a positive black identity within BME children, which is perceived as central to their well-being. Using the findings from a service evaluation in the UK, this paper explores themes and issues, as well as policy, and practice dilemmas inherent in the practice of ethnic matching in adoption.
Research has rarely examined this process in any depth, nor has it prioritised the views and experiences of adopters from BME communities. The field is dominated by the discourse surrounding trans ethnic adoption (the placement of BME children with white adopters). Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to evaluate practice in a specialist BME adoption service and to compare this to a mainstream adoption service within the same organisation. Results indicated the specialist focus was important. However, it also posed conceptual and practice dilemmas. The increasingly complex nature of ethnicity in modern society underlines the importance of services engaging directly with the challenging fluidity of ethnic and cultural identity.
|Keywords:||Ethnicity, Adoption, Social Work, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), Adoptive Parents, Qualitative Evaluation|
Senior Research Fellow, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancs, UK
Senior Lecturer, School of Social Work, Preston, UK