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March 2006Vol. 7, No. 2Increasing Adoptions of Hispanic Children

A Colorado-based project shows that mentoring can lead to successful adoptive placements for Hispanic children in foster care. The Me and My Shadow (MMS) program recruits and trains mentors, who are then matched with Hispanic children and youth who are older (10+ years) or part of a sibling group.

Beginning with a mentoring relationship allows both adults and youth to get to know each other in a nonthreatening way, without the pressure that pre-adoptive placement might bring. Mentors and mentees make an initial 6-month commitment. They are supported by a full range of services provided by the parent organization of MMS, which is a licensed child placement agency.

Recruiting mentors is an essential part of the MMS program. A number of different tactics are used to market the program and recruit adults, including community social events and publicity in the media. MMS staff make visits to churches and local chambers of commerce to talk about their program and to share stories and pictures of successful mentoring relationships and adoptions. These outreach efforts have paid off: In the 3 years of the MMS program, 216 adults have made inquiries about mentoring, and 50 of those were eventually admitted to the program, trained, and matched with a child.

Evaluation of the MMS program has been ongoing. Preliminary data show that in the 3 years before the program began, the parent agency for MMS was able to complete 23 adoptions, 9 of which were for Hispanic children. After 3 years of operating the MMS program, the agency had completed 50 adoptions, 20 of which were for Hispanic children.

For information about the MMS program and its approach of using mentorship as a bridge to permanency, contact:

Jim Belarde, Project Director
Me and My Shadow
Loving Homes, Inc.
10800 East Bethany Drive, Suite 515
Aurora, CO 80014
Phone: 719.406.4381

The Me and My Shadow program was funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90-CO-0966, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Developing Projects for Increasing Adoptive Placement for Minority Children. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from official Children's Bureau site visits.