Post Adoption Support

Post Adoption Support

Adoption affects adopted persons and families in many different ways over the course of their lifetime.  As result many adoptive families need information and support to manage challenges as they arise. Challenges may appear and reappear at different stages of life, even when their adoption is a positive experience.  We encourage families to seek assistance proactively when the first concern or questions arise.  Please note: there is no need for a family to feel ashamed or hesitant to request help… Just give yourself permission to learn & expand your skills!

Post-adoption services can help families with a range of challenges which may include:

  1. A parent struggling with how to explain adoption to a preschooler..or any aged child.
  2. A teenager struggling with their teenage identity, especially as it pertains to being an adopted child.  Identity development can be more complex for adopted children and teenagers.
  3. Identity development can be complicated if the child’s race or birth culture differs from that of the adoptive family.  Given the importance of maintaining a child’s birth heritage, parents may seek resources on this topic.
  4. Families of children who have experienced trauma, neglect, abuse, out-of-home care, or institutionalization may require more intensive services.
  5. All adopted children and youth, (even those adopted as infants) experience some level of grief and loss.  They may grieve as they come to understand their history and they may also struggle with feelings of abandonment.
  6. Any child or youth separated from birth parents has experienced a break in attachment, and may not have known consistent love and affection.  As result, they may have difficulty trusting and attaching to their new family.  These children may need help building healthy relationships.
  7. Open adoptions may lead to families and adopted children needing support in maintaining relationships with birth family members.
  8. Adoptive parents may experience grief and loss issues of their own, which may relate to infertility.  Emotions can be intensified by the reality of their adoption, especially if it doesn’t match what they expected it to be.
  9. At some point, many adoptees want to access birth information and/or reconnect with birth families.  While technology can accelerate a birth relative search, this faster pace can be emotionally overwhelming.  They also may not know where to begin their search.
  10. Children who were exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol may have ongoing emotional, developmental, physical or behavioral difficulties.  These may vary from health issues, to developmental delays, to feeding, sleeping and attachment issues. Issues may arise at school requiring an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a referral fro special services.

There are many tangible services available which can help with post-adoption challenges:

  1. Therapy/Counseling:  Professional help for concerns is always available to address any post-adoption challenge.  Proactive access can often prevent concerns from becoming serious problems.  For more information, contact the CHI office for insight and a referral.
  2. Support Groups:  Both Online and in-person groups are available.  Both offer parents and adoptees valuable opportunities to interact and share with others who may have had relevant experiences.  Parents can even start their own group as many post-adoption services were founded by concerned adoptive parents!
  3. Camps, picnics and other events:  Retreats and camps are available for members of adoptive families to connect with others like themselves.
  4. Educational resources:   Parents can access a workshop or conference, or an online resource to learn about the topics important to them, socialize with other families, and access adoption materials.  (many will be listed below).
  5. Financial assistance:  While most services are not free of charge, their may be assistance available for some adoptive families.  Many children adopted from public agencies qualify for adoption subsidy which can be used to pay for these services as spelled out in the adoption assistance agreement. Medicaid is available to meet a child’s special health, mental or emotional needs.  Your health insurance carrier may also offer benefits which can be used for post adoption services.  Some employers may provide benefits which will reimburse adoption related service fees.  Scholarships are often available to help with the cost of attending adoption conferences and seminars.
  6. Public adoption agencies (county or State offices) & many private adoption agencies may provide services which can benefit your family dynamic.

In addition to the specific services listed above, we’ve compiled a lengthy list of online resources – which can be accessed at any time & are listed below.  These may be especially helpful if your family is not living within this agency’s home state, which is California.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. The group offers a wealth of online trainings and informational links.

Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the well-being of families by connecting the public to information, resources and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse & neglect, adoption and more.  Child Information Gateway provides access to information and resources to help protect and strengthen families.

TCU Institute of Child Development  Offers Trust Based Relationship Intervention (TBRI) DVD’s that families can order for themselves.

Empowered to Connect offers a faith based version of TBRI. Families can go onto the website, click resources & then on the righthand side there are many topics they can click & see a short video or write up on the subject.

Attachment Trauma Network promotes healing of traumatized children and their families through support, education and advocacy.

CASE -Center for Adoption Support & Education C.A.S.E. is the national leader in adoption-competent support with foster and adopted children and adults, their families and the network of professionals who assist them. With more than 17 years of adoption expertise and an extensive range of services, C.A.S.E. is empowering families in the adoption and foster care community to grow together and overcome challenges.  This is an excellent site that offers articles, trainings, and lots of resources for all members of an adoptive family.

REACH – Tulare County and REACH- Kings County  REACH, which stands for Resources, Education, Advocacy, Crisis Intervention and Hope was designed to support and enrich the lives of adopted children and families, as well as others who have been touched by adoption.   REACH services are family-centered and recognize the core issues of adoption. Services are designed to support and preserve all family relationships and maximize the child’s potential and full integration into a family. REACH services are provided at multiple locations throughout California to help families effectively prepare for the experience of adoption and to ensure families receive support at all stages of adoptive parenting. There are REACH programs in the following counties:  Contra Costa, San Benito, Solano, Kings, Mono, Madera, Mariposa, and Tulare.

Dave Thomas Foundation  Access the link for a guide to Strengthen your Forever Family:  A step-by-Step guide to Post-Adoption.  This free resource booklet includes information for parents about the types of resources available after adoptions have been finalized. Topics include how to select and locate providers, what to do if your community doesn’t have resources available, and recommendations of other national non-profits that can help.

NACAC North American Council on Adoptable Children is an organization that offers numerous articles designed to help families who have adopted children with special needs.

PACT, an Adoption Alliance, was begun by two adoptive parents in 1991.  Pact has developed a range of services that can connect you to other families like your own.

CWLA Child Welfare League of America is the oldest national organization serving vulnerable children, youth, and their families. CLWA provides trainings, consultations, and a variety of conferences including teleconferences found at the link.

Voice for Adoption is a national organization that works to make a difference in the lives of children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted and the families who adopt children from foster care

Adoption Learning Partners provides educational adoption resources for adopted individuals, parents, families, and professionals through web-based and interactive courses. Adoption Learning Partners offers courses for families parenting adopted children to learn how to sort through issues and learn new skills. Courses address topics like talking to your child about adoption, helping your child cope with feelings of grief and loss, and answering questions about your child’s heritage and background with sensitivity and respect.

Evan B. Donaldson Institute is a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to adoption by improving the current policies and practices of adoption. Through a wealth of publications, the Institute seeks to end negative stereotypes and misinformation about adoption by providing an accurate picture of its rewards, as well as its challenges.  Search by topic to locate resources you may need.

Adoptive Families Magazine is an excellent magazine with well-written articles for all adoptive parents.

What have we missed? Please add any resources you have found to be helpful to your family in the comments.

 

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Post Adoption Services

Hannah

Recently, two staff from Chrysalis House, Inc. were afforded the opportunity to attend a symposium in New York, hosted by JCICS (Joint Council on International Children’s Services). Naturally, a wealth of information was acquired from the scheduled presentations and networking with peers.

The topic of Post Adoption Services was mentioned repeatedly and we felt it important to share some information in this space.  Please note:  It is common for adoptive families to need support and services after adoption. Adoption affects the adopted child and families in many different ways over the course of their lifetime.   Post adoption services are available and can help families with a wide range of issues!  Not all families will require services, but in the event our families are faced with challenges – CHI remains here to help!

Most of the time, adopted children are not thinking about the complexities of their adoption.  They are busy with schoolwork, socializing and activities.  But, there are developmental stages, milestones and events that often trigger adoption themed issues.  Consequently, an adopted person’s questions, concerns and needs often change over time.  For example:
1.  Children adopted as infants may first learn their adoption story as toddlers.  When entering school, they may become aware that most children were not adopted and may be challenged to respond to questions and comments from peers.

2. During adolescence, as youth grapple with identity issues and independence, they may have new questions about their birth families and their relationships.

3. As adopted people become parents or old enough to consider parenting, they may find themselves wanting to reconnect with birth relatives or to know more about their genetic history.

4.  Milestones and events can trigger a need for post-adoption support:

  • birthdays of the child, siblings, parents or birthparents.
  • anniversaries of placement into foster care, orphanages or the adoptive family; or adoption finalization date.
  • holidays such as Mother’s or Father’s Day.  Any holiday that involves family gatherings and sentiment.
  • School projects in which the child is asked to talk about his/her family, such as family tree assignments
  • A doctor’s appointment, which an adopted person is asked to supply medical history information
  • divorce of adopted parents
  • adoptive mother’s pregnancy, birth of a child or adoption of a sibling which may upset the adopted child’s sense of security in the family.
  • deployment of a military family member
  • death of a family member

During these times, parents should watch for signs indicating their adopted child or they themselves may need special support.  Overt signs may include changes in mood, eating habits, or sleeping habits.

Research has suggested that the following are some issues for which families typically seek post adoption support:

Grief & Loss:  All adopted youth (even those adopted as infants) experience some level of separation and loss.  They may struggle with feelings of abandonment as they try to understand why they were placed for adoption and how that affects who they are.  These feelings may appear and reappear at different stages of life, even when their adoption is an amazingly positive experience.

Trust & Attachment:  Any child separated from birth parents has experienced a break in attachment.  Adoption requires the development of new attachment and bonds.  Children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and transitions to multiple foster homes often have not known consistent love and affection and may have difficulty trusting and attaching to their new family.  This can also transcend into building healthy relationships with peers at different ages and stages.

Identity formation:  The process of identity development can be more complex for adopted children and teenagers regardless of when they were adopted.  This can be further complicated if they joined a family of another culture.  Given the importance of promoting their child’s heritage and supporting their child’s racial or cultural identity, parents may seek educational resources, learning opportunities or special events.  They also may benefit from building skills to cope with public scrutiny or racism.

Family dynamics and adoption adjustment: Adoptive parents may experience grief and loss issues of their own.  Emotions can be intensified by the stress of the adoption experience and can cause strain in marriages and partnerships.  For some it may even result in post-adoption depression.

Birth family connections:  Many adopted people want information about their birth family and/or to reconnect with birth relatives at some point in their lives.  Today’s technology and social networking opportunities are connecting people in new ways.  This fast paced contact opportunity can be extremely emotionally overwhelming to all.  Adoptive families, birth families and adopted children may need support in building openness into their post-adoption contact, setting boundaries and navigating their roles.

Difficulties resulting from Early Life Experiences:

  1. Effects of early childhood trauma – Research shows that traumatic experiences can effect a child’s early brain development which can have later consequences for how a child behaves, expresses emotions, copes with stress and forms relationships.  The effects can vary and may not appear until years later.
  2. Health issues and developmental delays – When children miss out on important developmental activities due to a lack of stimulation and proper nutrition due to being in an institutional setting, they may have unique challenges that don’t appear immediately upon adoption.
  3. School issues:  Some adopted children experience learning delays or behavioral issues that effect how well they perform at school.  Children may benefit from evaluation for disability or special education services.  Individualized Education Plans (IEP) can be formed to insure children meet educational goals.

Types of Post Adoption Services:

Naturally, Counseling can help address the majority of these issues.  It can also help adoptive parents understand their child’s behavior and identify strategies to meet their child’s needs and allow healing to occur.

Support groups for parents and children are available through CHI, many other peer agencies and churches.  It may also be an option to informally form one of your own utilizing your support network.  There are online support groups, camps, social events and heritage activities to consider.  Many new organizations are helping adoptive parents, birth parents and those who have been adopted navigate changes in their levels of openness, conduct searches and even reunite with birth families.

Educational and information resources are a plenty.  Books, magazines, workshops, seminars and websites may offer information that responds to adoptive family questions.  We at CHI, have specifically entered the social networking world of facebook, Pinterest and blogging with an emphasis on accumulating resources that can be readily available to families in need.  Please access our pages as you see fit at the following addresses:

Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/chifamilies/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Chrysalis.House.Inc

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to advocate on behalf of your family.  We are committed to our families today …and tomorrow.  If Post Adoption Services may be of use to you, please contact the office to discuss how we may be of assistance in narrowing down your options!