The Institute for Black Parenting embarked 37 years ago on one of the most difficult and pressing social-service issues in placing orphaned Black children into stable households.

The Inglewood-based licensed adoption and social welfare agency began as a specialist in serving African American children because historically fear of adoption among adults has made Black youngsters traditionally difficult to place. Because poverty can frequently be mistaken for neglect, Black orphans who may come from jobless households hosting drug abuse, domestic violence and poor resources, they can be viewed as difficult to rear and are often deemed undesirable. The Institute for Black Parenting provides services to all ethnic groups.

The Institute also provides family preservation and family reunification services to assist with maintaining children in their biological or extended family.

A number of nontraditional adoption services are available, among them an initial telephone call or in-person contact with prospective applicants. These adults are invited to an adoption orientation meeting; at the end, the prospective applicant is fingerprinted and given adoption forms. The completed application is then returned and another in-person meeting is conducted. Following an adoptive family training workshop, the case is assigned to a social worker for home-study interviews.

If approved, the family receives a letter of confirmation and then the search begins for the most appropriate child. The Institute networks with other county and private bodies, as well as with a co-op of minority agencies that may specialize with children of color. A photo listing corresponds with the search, as do face-to-face meetings with prospective children.

The waiting period, of course, varies with the particular household. The Institute does offer “while you wait meetings,” which are conducted quarterly to discuss available children and to ease anxieties among perspective parents during this sometimes stressful period. California regulations require a minimum six-month to one-year “adjustment period” (including four home visits) before the adoption is finalized.

The Institute then selects and matches the child according to the applicant(s) request, and a “pre-placement” conference ensues between the social worker and supervisor. Then the social worker meets with the perspective adoptive family to discuss children(s) background and current behavior. Placement steps are then initiated; the waiting period typically depends on the child’s age, emotional needs, and bonding to new parents. Once placement occurs, the adoption papers are completed and signed.

The Community Coalition of Los Angeles, a social-service organization working in conjunction with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), reported last year that Black children comprised more than 34 percent of its case files, but numbered only 8 percent of the total child population in L.A. County. The survey revealed that African Americans make up 31 percent of the children DCFS places with family members; Latino youngsters comprise 54 percent of new placements.

The Institute requires no fee for services, including first aid and CPR training. There are Spanish-language services, foster family support groups, medical consultations, computer training and extracurricular activities. A child development specialist is on staff.

Located at 11222 S. La Cienega Blvd., Suites 129/233, the Institute for Black Parenting serves residents in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. For more information, call (310) 807-3350.