Parents who adopt internationally are commonly implored to expose their children to their “birth cultures.” While this celebration of origins is praiseworthy, the approach to “culture” that it typically involves is arguably problematic. This article discusses what anthropologists mean by culture and how this differs from the way culture is treated in international adoption. It then considers what medical anthropologists have learned through decades of evolving discussions about how to teach “cultural competency” to health care providers and suggests that the insights from these debates can be applied to encourage a more nuanced approach to “cultural competency” among adoptive parents.

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Keywords anthropology, cultural competency, culture, International adoption, parent education
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Journal Adoption Quarterly
Pylypa, J. (2018). Talking About Culture With Internationally Adoptive Parents: An Anthropological Perspective. Adoption Quarterly, 1–18. doi:10.1080/10926755.2018.1448916