Raising Black Foster Children Today



Source: blackyouthproject.com

I’ve seen these two movements argue to the point of nausea. Of course ‘Black Lives’ matter as does all life. That said, imagine the label of a black foster child who stuck in a residential facility.

I recently asked seventeen-year-old son how he felt about being black.

He responded by saying something to the effect of, “I never knew what to do until I came to live here; it always seemed like everyone looked at me as a child in need or a problem. Before coming to live here I had never seen a black man looked at in a positive light unless he was an athlete or entertainer. I was just so angry because I was struggling to figure out who I was and how I could matter. After I met you, I realized that I could be one of those positive black men by being a good father like you.”

I was floored.  This very insightful young man was teaching me the importance of a role-model as well as why open dialogue is so crucial to our own development.

I was once a black teenager going through the same struggle for an identity, but I can’t pretend that I know what he is and has been going through simply because I perceive our experiences as similar.

In order to parent a black foster child, we must empathize with them first. The only way for me to gain clarity was to ask him the tough questions.

This started a barrage of questions from me to him:

“Do you feel like you are treated different by authority figures because you are black?”

“How does it feel to be the only black kid in a room?”

“How do you view white families?”

“How do you think that women perceive you?”

“Are you afraid of police and if so, why?”


Source: art.blacklivesmatter.com

We had to talk! But I couldn’t have this dialogue with him until we had first built trust and respect. While I asked him all of these questions, I also shared my experiences and feelings.

In preparation of him driving one day, I told him the horror story of a routine traffic stop were an officer treated me like dirt and spat racial slurs towards me. I told him that I was scared and that all I could think about was getting back in my car and going home. I told him how I have a different kind of fear when a police officer gets behind me but when given the chance, I have been able to show him  exactly what to do during a routine traffic stop. Despite the images that we all have seen on the news and on social media, I have been able to model proper behavior despite my fears of a worst-case scenario.

Learning all of these things about him and how he feels about certain situations gave me an advantage. I am able to upload this information into my menRolodexodex and parent him accordingly.

I also have to be a great model because this conversation reminded me he is a sponge that will always follow my lead.

Source: kpfa.org

I refuse to pretend that I have all of the answers as it pertains to raising a black foster child. However, there are things that I have done that I have had success with, which are;

1) Helping to mold a positive self-image.

2) Keeping the dialogue completely open for clarity.

3) Modeling proper behavior.

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