Written by Washington Foster Team
A home is much more than four walls and what’s inside. It’s a sense you get when you can go somewhere and feel that you truly belong. As we’ve seen in a previous article, having children taken away from their homes — their families, their friends, their culture — is permanently damaging.
By fostering more diversity, a greater number of children in foster care can have the opportunity to maintain their cultural sense of home. Here’s why it’s so important.
Maintaining Ties To Culture
Cultural connections provide foster children with a sense of belonging and normalcy. When a child is placed with a family from a similar background, they’re able to thrive in an environment that feels like home, even if it isn’t.
One foster child, Daryle Conquering Bear, was born in South Dakota as a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe.
Unfortunately, his situation led him to foster care at a young age. His foster family was outside the tribe, taking him away from the culture that was previously so ingrained. It wasn’t until he aged out of the system that he was able to reconnect to the traditions and heritage of his parents and his people.
With more foster families from a wider variety of backgrounds, children like Daryle won’t have to be separated from their broader communities.
Looking The Part
At a time in a child’s life when things can feel especially chaotic and unfamiliar, one of the most important gifts foster parents can give a child is a sense of normalcy.
It’s understandable that children may not want to explain their situation to peers, or be questioned about who their foster parents are. But blending in and feeling normal isn’t easy if your foster parents don’t look like you at all. It may seem like an insignificant detail to adults, but for children, it can mean a lot.
Think of a time when you felt embarrassed as a child for being different at school. Fostering diversity helps children maintain anonymity when they just want to feel like a regular kid.
Help A Child Discover Their True Selves
Adolescence is a dynamic time in everyone’s life. As children mature and their personalities begin to develop, it’s only natural that they begin to question who they are and where they come from.
Without their biological parents around, a child loses the opportunity to find the answers to those questions unless their foster family has a similar cultural background and can help guide them.
Not all children have a profound sense of connection to their culture, and that’s OK. The tragedy occurs when children don’t even have the chance to learn about their culture and let it help shape the people that they’re growing into.
Ready to represent your culture by fostering a child from a similar background? Find out how to get started by downloading our free resource: The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State