Beyond colour-blindness: Enhancing cultural and racial identity for adopted and fostered children in cross-cultural and transracial families


  • Anita Gibbs University of Otago



Adoption, Fostering, Transracial, Transcultural, Parenting, Culture, Race


INTRODUCTION: Cross-cultural and transracial adoption or fostering is a common experience in adoptive and foster family formation yet few adoptive or foster parents are truly competent to address the cultural needs of children who join their families in this way. Few parents comprehend the full extent of cultural and, or, racial identity knowledge that their newly adopted children bring with them. Parents also struggle to answer the cultural, and, or, racial identity questions that their adopted children ask them. Likewise, human service professionals, when helping families, sometimes struggle to provide culturally competent knowledge and training.

METHODS: A review of literature nationally and internationally to ascertain best practice models and strategies to help families and professionals move beyond colour-blind approaches and meet the cultural needs of adopted or fostered children.

FINDINGS: There are useful models of cultural and bicultural competency that parents and human service professionals can use to enable improved support for families formed through transracial and cross-cultural adoption and fostering.

CONCLUSIONS: A colour-blind approach to cross-cultural or transracial parenting is unlikely to help children view their ethnic background and heritage positively. Rather, a culturally competent approach will help children develop positive racial and cultural identities.

Author Biography

Anita Gibbs, University of Otago

Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.


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How to Cite

Gibbs, A. (2017). Beyond colour-blindness: Enhancing cultural and racial identity for adopted and fostered children in cross-cultural and transracial families. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(4), 74–83.



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