A culture is defined as a set of principles, ideas, and customs that are held by a particular social group and passed down from generation to generation, that are taught and transmitted, and that drive thoughts, judgements, and behaviors in a pattern. The impact of culture on parenting and child development has been well studied. According to a review of the research on culture and fostering, shared experiences, comparable views, useful advantages, and continuity of care, constitute advantages of cultural compatibility in placements (Brown, George, Sintzel & Arnault, 2009). Considering this finding, parents who foster children from a different cultural background, will have to provide double of their effort in their already difficult task to raise those children.

Due to a lack of foster parents with roots from underrepresented groups, foster children from ethnic minority are typically placed in families of ethnic majority (Degener, van Bergen & Grietens, 2022). Due to the beneficial correlation between a strong identity and psychological growth and wellbeing, issues with one’s racial identity may have an adverse effect on mental health. High self-esteem is associated with positive ethnic in-group views and mental well-being (Yasui, Dorham & Dishion, 2004; Ferrari, Rosnati, Manzi & Benet‐Martínez, 2015). Being placed with a transracial family may be challenging for foster children. Most foster children globally have been subjected to mistreatment, abuse, and/or neglect by their biological parents, and they may feel traumatized and bereaved after being removed from their birth parents’ homes. These encounters may hinder a person’s ability to build their identity or cause them to lose their identity (Degener et al., 2022).

Children who were transracially adopted spoke of processes of ethnic identity confusion. They lacked the role models that could have helped them explore their racial or ethnic minority identities because they were separated. In the study of Brown et al. (2009), foster children often did not feel like they belonged to the foster home and even lost touch with, or showed little interest in their own cultural heritage and traditions. These children were subjected to poor treatment in their foster homes because of their different origin. Cultural prejudices affect how people perceive the world and behave in it as they go about living their lives in a particular context, so this fact may affect how the family and people around treat the transracial children. The foster children who were transracially put as a result lost their native identities. To support the development of their foster children’s ethnic identities, foster parents must have the necessary skills or expertise.

When it comes to a foreign ethnic context, cultural biases are automatically introduced and take place without notice. In order to provide the greatest care for their foster kid, foster parents must take the time to examine their own cultural biases and devise a strategy to overcome them. Lack of knowledge about one’s culture could also impede the job of a foster parent considering the transracial children. For a parent who fosters children from a different cultural background for the first time, there is the need and the agony, at the same time, of getting to know the culture of a child, the food they consume, the activities they enjoy, their habits and much more. Parents can read and get informed about the child’s culture, but talking to the child directly—or, if that’s not feasible, asking the child’s biological parent—is the most crucial step. Different language can be a barrier as well, so a factor that needs to be considered before a transracial placement is for the parent to speak the child’s language (How To Support Your Foster Child’s Culture When It’s Different From Yours, 2020).

In order to help their foster children to establish their ethnic identities, foster parents must have a variety of specific abilities connected to cultural competency and receptivity. (Daniel, 2011; Coakley & Gruber, 2015; Montgomery, 2019).  Being able to strike a balance between one’s own cultural values and beliefs and those of the foster children is a first skill. On the one hand, foster parents must find a middle ground between teaching their own cultural values and beliefs and absorbing those of their foster children, while on the other hand, they must be accepting of the cultural origins of the foster children they are caring for (Brown et al., 2009). The ability to form relationships with the foster child’s biological parents is a secondary skill of foster parents. An essential way to link foster children with their cultural heritage is through their birth parents. Negative attitudes against one another may also put strain on the bonds between foster parents and biological parents. That is why foster parents who fail to promote the ethnic identity of the children frequently lack the capacity to alter these attitudes and form a connection with the children’s biological parents (Daniel, 2011).

Foster parents also need to be able to introduce their foster children to the cultural traditions of ethnic minorities and help them learn more about their own heritages. Foster parents must be aware of the cultural origins of the youth in their care. Support and education from foster care agencies would be beneficial in this process. However, it might be difficult for the parents to preserve the ethnic identities of foster children from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is complex and includes both religion and ethnicity. Foster parents could be unsure of whether or how to take these racial or religious distinctions into account (Degener et al., 2022). It is the responsibility of a foster parent to provide stability for transracial foster children by providing them with unwavering love and support in a manner that respects both their culture and their own.



Brown, J. D., George, N., Sintzel, J., & Arnault, D. S. (2009). Benefits of cultural matching in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(9), 1019-1024.

Coakley, T. M., & Gruber, K. (2015). Cultural receptivity among foster parents: Implications for quality transcultural parenting. Social Work Research, 39(1), 11-22.

Daniel, E. (2011). Fostering cultural development: Foster parents’ perspectives. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(11), 2230-2240.

Degener, C. J., van Bergen, D. D., & Grietens, H. W. (2022). The ethnic identity of transracially placed foster children with an ethnic minority background: A systematic literature review. Children & Society, 36(2), 201-219.

Ferrari, L., Rosnati, R., Manzi, C., & Benet‐Martínez, V. (2015). Ethnic identity, bicultural identity integration, and psychological well‐being among transracial adoptees: A longitudinal study. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2015(150), 63-76.

Montgomery, J. E. (2020). Culturally competent parenting: A test of web‐based training for transracial foster and adoptive parents. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 46(3), 442-454.

Yasui, M., Dorham, C. L., & Dishion, T. J. (2004). Ethnic identity and psychological adjustment: A validity analysis for European American and African American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19(6), 807-825.




How To Support Your Foster Child’s Culture When It’s Different From Yours. (2020, September 23). How To Support Your Foster Child’s Culture When It’s Different From Yours; foster.wachildrenandfamilies.org. https://foster.wachildrenandfamilies.org/blog/how-to-support-your-foster-childs-culture-when-its-different-from-yours