I developed this scale as a tool for group discussion, to raise awareness of the issue of parents’ cultural competence. It is based on the writings of Jane Brown, Beth Hall and Gail Steinberg, and all the adult adoptees from Korea and Vietnam writing online.
Cultural competence scale
for Caucasian families with a transracial international adoption
negative Parent raises child in racist atmosphere, with racist comments and actions, normally against blacks, but also supports racist jokes and comments about child’s own race.
0 Assumes child will “pass” as a white child. Ignores child’s racial identity. Believes racism will not affect his or her child. Provides no toys, books, decor of the child’s heritage or race.
5 Acknowledges the child’s race, and provides minimal identifying materials in home, confined to child’s bedroom. Visitors see nothing of the child’s heritage in the home.
10 Parents attempt to learn a little about their child’s country; buy books, music and videos, to study at home, before they adopt their child, but stop after the adoption. Parent buys child same-race dolls, buys storybooks about child’s country, plays ethnic music, incorporates it into home decor. Parent attends festivals organized by Caucasian adoptive parents where child is dressed up in ethnic costume. Parent socializes with adoptive families with children from the same country.
25 Parents send child alone to language classes, and cultural classes, but do not participate themselves.
50 Parents are aware of the need to promote a positive racial identity. Whole family attempts to learn language, attend cultural classes, joins support group activities involving child’s country, attends community events held by child’s racial group. Parents buy videos and books about successful Americans of child’s race. Parents take family to annual heritage camp. Parents plan a homeland visit with child. Parents teach children history of their homeland and their race in America. Family tries to befriend children and families of the same race as their child, especially in public places.
60 Parents recognize importance of multi-cultural competence, fill home with toys, books and music of all races, not just child’s race. Children from Asia, for instance, get Black and Latino dolls, stories about black children, black music. They encourage their child to see their specific country as part of a wider Asian, Hispanic, or South Asian culture. Parents invite children of all races into the home for birthday parties, play dates. They socialize with all kinds of transracial adoptive families, including African-American families. They choose shopping malls, playgrounds, vacation locations, etc which are most multiracial. Parents take child to multicultural events, such as Dwali, Kwanzaa, Cinch de Mayo etc.
75 Parents teach selves deliberately about race issues, attend seminars, read books on the issue, etc. Parents actively seek positive role models for their children, the successful adults of their child’s race in the community. Parents choose professionals like doctors and dentists based on race. They create genuine, personal friendships with same-race families, who are invited to the home, or stay in home as exchange students. They seek out adult adoptees from child’s country as positive role models. Parents actively teach child how to deal with racism. They groom children and teach them manners to ensure approval in ethnic community.
90 Parents take their child’s race into account when making major life choices; they deliberately select a multi-cultural neighborhood and schools (provided these meet other requirements such as safety and academic standards) They are willing to move house, even change jobs to insure that their child’s experiences growing up are as positive as possible. May live in child’s country for a time.