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January/February 2001Vol. 2, No. 1Growing Latino Population Spurs Efforts to Recruit Latino Foster and Adoptive Families

Federal law prohibits States and agencies that receive Federal funds from delaying or denying a child's placement based on the race, color, or national origin of the child or prospective foster or adoptive parents. By stepping up efforts to recruit families from diverse backgrounds, agencies can develop a pool of foster and adoptive families that reflect the racial and ethnic backgrounds of their waiting children.

Because Latinos, or Hispanics, are the fastest growing minority population in the United States, several Federal demonstration projects and State initiatives have focused special attention on recruiting Latino foster and adoptive families. Several of these are profiled here:

In Texas, Hispanic children of Mexican descent comprise a large percentage of children waiting to be adopted. Five years ago, Nuestros Niños, an agency in Houston, received a Federal grant to increase adoptions of Hispanic children citywide. Recruitment efforts involved outreach to the Hispanic community through schools and churches and newspaper, television, and radio ads. Experienced adoptive parents were trained to help support recruited families through the preparation and assessment process. Although Nuestros Niños fell short of its goal to recruit 80 families and place 20 children, the effort did succeed in placing 11 children with adoptive families and was embraced by the Hispanic community. Statewide, Texas has been actively recruiting Spanish-speaking foster and adoptive for more than a year.

In New York, the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC) received a 2-year Federal grant, beginning in 1994, to recruit African American, Hispanic, and single-parent adoptive families in New York City. COAC hired 3 program staff members, produced flyers and brochures, and placed public service announcements on African American and Hispanic-oriented radio stations. A unique feature of this program was to train 3 parent volunteer groups that targeted their recruitment efforts at African Americans, Hispanics, and singles parents respectively. Each group sponsored monthly recruitment activities, such as barbecues, teas, church boards, mixers, and culturally centered celebrations. During the project period, 190 children were placed or matched with families.

Another 2-year Federal grant, which ran concurrent to COAC's project, concentrated on recruitment efforts for Latino children with special needs in San Diego county. Project "Buscar, Enseñar, Apoyar, Adoptar y Continuar" (seek, teach, support, adopt, and continue) was administered by the YMCA Family Stress Counseling Services in California. The project placed 54 children with adoptive families. The effort included a successful public relations component, contracted to a private agency, that led to many inquiries. Adoption classes, which focused on the adoption of Latino children with special needs, attracted 212 participants. A monthly Spanish speaking support group for parents who adopted through Project Buscar shared parenting tips and information. Another support group met specifically to address the needs of children diagnosed with attachment disorders.

Massachusetts ranked 10th among States with the highest percentage of Hispanics in 1997. A federally funded project enabled the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) to reach out to this population. The primary goal of the grant, which ran from October 1995 to June 1998, was to raise statewide awareness among Hispanic families about Latino children waiting for adoption. MARE hired a full-time, Spanish-speaking Hispanic Community Outreach Worker who made appearances on TV shows and other Hispanic news outlets, and who worked with Hispanic churches in the Boston area to provide support services to families considering adoption. Culturally sensitive training materials were developed for adoptive and foster parents, and all print materials were translated into Spanish. As a result, inquiries from Hispanic families increased, and six children were placed.

Contact information:
Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
45 Franklin St., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110-1301
Phone: 617-542-3678
Fax: 617-542-1006

New York Council on Adoptable Children
666 Broadway, Suite 820
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212-475-0222
Fax: 212-475-1972

Related Items

"Strategies Suggested for Recruiting Mexican American Adoptive Parents" (this issue of Children's Bureau Express)

See "Recruiting Families for Special Needs Children" in the May issue of the Children's Bureau Express.

For a list of community-based Latino Adoption Agencies, contact the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse at 888-251-0075 or visit: (Note: this link is no longer available.)

For a list of organizations that have information and resources on child maltreatment and child welfare issues affecting Latinos, contact the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at 800-394-3366 or visit: (Note: this link is no longer available.)

For a fact sheet about the federal Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (PL 103-382), visit (Editor's note: this link is no longer active.)

Search Thomas (, a service of the Library of Congress, for the text of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (PL 103-382) and the Interethnic Placement Amendments of 1996 (PL 104-188).