Custom adoption backgrounder

Announcing a new research partnership with the Northwest Inter-nation Family and Community Services Society!

As a result of our 2011 forum on custom adoption, the Siem Smun’eem Indigenous Child Well-Being Research Network is pleased to announce that we have begun a joint partnership study with Northwest Inter-nation Family and Community Services Society (NIFCS). NIFCS is currently developing partnership agreements with member First Nations to implement a two-year custom adoption project.

About the Custom Adoption forum

Held at the First Peoples House at the University of Victoria in November 2011, the custom adoption forum included presentations from Elders, youth, and leaders in the area of Indigenous adoptions. Forum proceedings are available online and include videos and a report on custom adoptions. One goal of the forum was to develop partnerships to support custom adoption projects in Aboriginal organizations and Nations.

About this project

This community-based research study will assist communities in documenting and utilizing their unique caretaking traditions related to custom adoptions. Custom adoptions have been used since time immemorial in Aboriginal communities when birth parents were not able to take care of their child(ren). Custom adoptions are different from mainstream adoptions because they are grounded in the teachings and cultures of Aboriginal communities, instead of external legislation.

The need for the study is well documented both at the community and research levels. Aboriginal communities and agencies across BC are requesting support to integrate culturally-grounded custom adoptions and permanency planning into their current services. It is our hope that this study will help communities identify ways to support their children living in kinship and other placements, foster care, group care and adoptive homes, so that they are consistently connected to their communities and cultural identities through various kinds of supports and activities.

Our research plan is based on our direct experience with Northwestern communities and families and extensive consultations with key stakeholders, project advisory members, other Aboriginal agencies and project partners. The project reinforces our joint mission statements of preserving the uniqueness of cultural identity for every child and family. It is hoped that this project will enhance the emotional, socio-cultural and spiritual health and wellbeing of the families in the communities involved in the research.

Look for more updates as the project gets underway!

In good spirit!