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April 12, 2005 > Black Adoption Placement helps kids find families

Black Adoption Placement helps kids find families

by Veronica Velasquez

In the late 1960s, a rapidly increasing number of black children suddenly entered into the United States adoption system. The number of black children being given up for adoption continued to rise and, in 1983, the Black Adoption Placement and Research Center (BAPRC) was formed by group of social workers to deal with the dilemma. Their purpose was to handle the substantial influx and develop a way to better serve the community and its children. In its 22-year history, BAPRC has placed 700 children among the 14 Northern California counties it serves, averaging 35 to 50 children per year.

"We place children with people that are able to take care of them, and it doesn't matter if they are married or single, gay or straight, or whether they rent or own property," said Nora Foster, a clinical director with the program. "The goal is to find a safe home for the children. We don't discriminate against age, either, but the law requires that the person or couple be at least 21 years old, with a stable income."

About 122,000 children in the United States are awaiting adoption with the ratio of boys to girls about even. For children over three, age can be an issue as most adoptive parents want an infant. Sibling groups can also be challenge to place, as BAPRC insists they be adopted together.

There are several phases to the adoption process. In the first phase, the potential parent attends an informational meeting and the adoption agency performs both a criminal record check and a separate child abuse index check. Fingerprints are taken via Live Scan, a system for the electronic submission of applicant fingerprints, and then sent to the Alameda County database. The case is then assigned to a social worker that will visit the prospective parent's home and interview them. From then on, it is in the hands of the social worker and clinical director.

During the second phase of the application and matching process, potential parents visit the agency and are introduced to the children. The agency uses this time to observe the needs and strengths of both the children and their prospective families. This is also the stage in which families can bring up which gender and age they are looking for and, if they have a preference, which race.

Making certain that the children are entering a safe environment is an absolute must for the BAPRC. The organization never rushes to place children. They take the time to make sure the adoptive families are well prepared for the change they are about to undergo.

The last stage in the adoption process is preparatory training, in which the potential parents are required to complete a series of six Saturday parenting classes where they learn the Model Approach to Partners and Parents, or MAPP method. These workshops are taught by either the social worker or clinical director that is assigned to the case.

In addition to the MAPP workshops, BAPRC offers 30 hours of pre-training, meant to help once the "honeymoon" phase of adoption is over. In both the pre-and post-placement training, the parents are told what to expect in their child's behavior, and are educated about loss and grief counseling as well as familiarized with people at the agency involved with their case. BAPRC believes that the adoptive process is an ongoing education and gives adoptive parents access to these services after the initial training is complete.

The adoption process is case-specific, but the average amount of time it takes to complete is six to 12 months. During the past decade, legislation has recently been passed to speed up the process time, such as the 1997 Safe Families Act, which decreased the waiting time from 18 months to 12 months maximum.

"I have high standards for adoption placement because my parents offered such love and acceptance as foster parents," said Gloria King, executive director of BAPRC for the past 15 years. "They became the legal guardians of two sisters, who became my sisters when I was growing up, and I still keep in contact with them."

To foster the identities and self-esteem of the children, the organization hosts an annual cultural camp, Nguzo Saba. Nguzo Saba is based on the seven principles of Kwanzaa which, noted King, "can be extrapolated to all families. The goal of the BAPRC is not to be race specific, but to teach children to respect who they are; it's culture specific, but it's for everyone."

Although children at BAPRC are predominantly African-American, the organization has always employed an anti-discrimination policy.

"I feel like it's my purpose, and if I wasn't here doing this, I'd be somewhere else helping children. This is a job that pays me to do what I love. I'm passionate about adoption," said King.

For more information, go to www.baprc.org.

Below is a listing of upcoming informational meetings:

Adoption and Foster Care Information Meetings
Wednesdays - 4/13, 5/11, & 6/08
Glad Tidings Church
27689 Tyrell Avenue, Rm. 202 (Northern Campus)
Hayward

Thursdays - 4/07, 5/05, & 6/02
Fremont Bible Fellowship Community Development Center
6540 Central Avenue (Multipurpose Room)
Newark

To reserve your seat, please call (510) 430-3600.

 
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