In response to a call from the community for specialized post-adoption services, the Adoption Mentoring Partnership emerged from a collaboration between Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Hampshire County, the Rudd Adoption Research Program at UMass Amherst, the Adoption Journeys program, the Amherst Regional School District, and the Psychological Services Center at UMass Amherst to create a unique support system for adopted children in Amherst and the surrounding communities.
The Adoption Mentoring Partnership matches children and undergraduate students by adoption type (foster care, domestic private, or international adoption), race/ethnicity, and gender. By promoting the healthy and safe development of a friendship between the child and the undergraduate mentor, it is hoped that the child will have someone they can talk to about issues related to race, ethnicity, and adoption. This Partnership normalizes the experience of adoption and provides younger adopted children with a role model who is similar to them.
Often, adoptive parents state that while they can provide their adopted child with unconditional love and support, in addition to providing them with enriching cultural activities (i.e.: culture camps), what they cannot ever do, is fully understand what it means to be adopted, and truly relate to their child on this level. Further, in the case of transracial adoptions, the adoptive parents often state that they can never fully understand what their child is going through as a person of color in a predominantly White social environment in the Pioneer Valley.
By matching adopted children with a same-race, same-gender mentor who has also been adopted, we hope to provide these children with someone who can relate on these and other levels, and support them as these children navigate relational, and social landscapes, as they begin to define their own identity as an adopted person.
The first matches began in fall, 2010 and have been highly successful. The program continues to flourish to this day!