In the U.S, almost 2.7 million children are currently being raised by kin—family members other than their parents. These families have been formed through both formal and informal processes. For the wellbeing of these children and their families, as well as for the professionals who serve them, we must take a more critical look at the current practices of kinship care and adoption.
Before formal adoption policies were established either in the United States or abroad, kinship care was a common practice in most cultures around the world. For centuries, when parents felt unable to raise a child or protect their safety for a period of time or indefinitely, they often reached out to relatives to step in and care for a child or children . This common practice of relying on relatives to help raise children still exists alongside formalized domestic and international adoption and foster care programs. However, because of these informal roots, many involved in kinship care and adoption are not receiving the necessary support to make permanent placement for these children secure and successful. Today there is often a gap in understanding how to address the needs of children who have experienced hardship and trauma and a lack of consistency in how to best support and educate families stepping in to care for these children.