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September 15th to October 15th marks the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to honor Hispanic culture, history and traditions. In Texas, approximately 40% of the children in foster care are Hispanic, yet many are living with families who are not of Hispanic descent. Transracial foster and adoptive placements offer both the children and families opportunities to love and respect people with backgrounds different from their own, but children can still feel detached and find it challenging to identify with their culture. If you are a foster or adoptive family, or if you’re thinking about it, here are a few ways you can help Hispanic children stay connected with their culture.
Sometimes children come into foster care speaking little or no English and it’s scary to live in a place without anyone who can understand you. Without opportunities to communicate with other fluent speakers, a child may lose connection with their first language. Downloading Duolingo or Babbel can help you learn a few words in Spanish, and apps like Google Translate can help children and families as they learn to communicate with each other. Even short common phrases help and they can mean the world to a child. Simple things like watching movies or listening to music can help a child feel comfortable and help foster parents learn the language.
At PCHAS, we focus on cultural awareness as we prepare families to foster and/or adopt. As you think about how to honor other cultures within your family, start by asking children about the traditions they love the most. From there, some internet searching can point you to holidays and celebrations in Hispanic cultures, such as Día de la Independencia (Mexican Independence Day), Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day). Incorporating these holidays into your family traditions can ensure children that they are surrounded by people who are willing to learn about their culture and keep their roots strong.
In Hispanic culture, food is very important. One PCHAS family shared, “Food was important to our foster children because it can be familiar to them. We made sure to incorporate things they like into the menu a lot, we didn't make it a big production, just meals for everyday life.” Involving them in the cooking process can also be a great opportunity to spend quality time together, strengthen your bond and show a child that you are willing to listen and learn.
Honoring a child’s culture is one of the best ways to show respect to the child and their family. It takes work, but it’s worth it.
Kids in our community need great families to foster and adopt. If you have a love for learning about new cultures and an open heart for being family for children who need one, give us a call at 512-212-5700 or email email@example.com connect with a Foster Care & Adoption Guide.