post-adoption services

adoption

I’ve been meeting with a couple of colleagues who both have adopted children from China. One also has an adopted son from Korea. Both of my colleagues are licensed professional counselors, and one specializes in working with families with adopted children. Their own children are in middle childhood. We’ve been discussing and making plans to develop adoption programming for adoptive parents in our area targeting the Fall for some kind of event. Interestingly, in fiscal year 2012, Arizona had an estimated 105 adoptions from abroad (U.S. Department of State). We’ve also talked about our own individual stories and experiences in adoption, me obviously from an adoptee’s perspective, and my colleagues from the perspective of adoptive parents. We all agree that adoption is a fundamental, life-altering event for all triad members that can lead to both great joy and tremendous pain. I believe that most agencies do a great job of connecting families with children who need a family. However, not many prepare families for the unexpected issues that arise post-adoption—an adopted child not wanting to be touched or showing signs of reactive attachment disorder (RAD), or experiencing sensory issues, and how to cope with such issues.

My colleagues have spoken about the challenges of raising their own adopted children and how the effects of institutionalization and maternal separation have impacted them emotionally, psychologically and physically. Like many other adoptive parents, they feel that there is a lack of meaningful support and post-adoption services following adoption and that risk factors are not always properly understood or disclosed by adoption service providers to adoptive families. One of my colleagues talked of all the pictures of happy smiling adoptable Korean children displayed on the walls of her adoption agency. She felt that this elicited a picture that everything is wonderful and happy in adoption, a somewhat misleading picture. My other colleague felt that her agency did discuss the risk factors of international adoption, however, very often adoptive parents are so excited about adopting that they tune these issues out only later to discover the very complex nature of raising an internationally adopted child.

After our meeting the other day, my colleagues and I came to an agreement that we all had very different goals for developing adoption programming. We decided that before planning any big event, we should proceed with developing a post-adoption needs survey for adoptive parents to assess what the needs are, something already in the works. What do adoptive parents need? What kinds of services and programming would be most helpful? We also talked about hosting another screening of a film documentary, possibly The Invisible Red Thread, or Wo Ai Ni Mommy  (I Love You Mommy) on transracial adoption, an event that would require a little less planning, yet provide a forum for discussion and interaction. The needs surveys would also be available for families to complete. In January, we held a screening for the documentary, Somewhere Between, in Phoenix. Many adoptive families attended, but, unfortunately, some were unable to because the screening sold out. I am cautiously optimistic that another such screening would draw a crowd of adoptees and adoptive families. What I found exciting about our Somewhere Between screening was meeting adoptive families and adoptees in Arizona and building a sense of community.

If you live in Arizona, I would love to hear from you about a forthcoming screening of either The Invisible Red Thread or Wo Ai Ni Mommy (which was aired on PBS in 2010 as part of a documentary series on transracial adoption). Let me know what your thoughts are regarding post-adoption services, support groups, community building or anything else on international adoption. If you aren’t in Arizona, still please feel free to comment. You can comment on this post, or reach me directly by email at mjnguyen7@cox.net.

 

13 thoughts on “post-adoption services

  1. Pingback: Adoption: Addiction? | Everblog

  2. Reena

    I think your colleagues are dead on in that some adoptive parents tune-out anything that they do not want to hear– I was one of them. My head would literally start buzzing if anyone said anything that I didn’t want to hear so that I actually didn’t hear it. In our situation, the adoption process slowed down considerably and there was time for the ‘buzzing’ to cease. I began reading books–on my own and did my best to educate myself about adoption, transracial adoption, grief that my adopted children would experience, parenting in general, and Chinese culture. I continue to read on these topics as well as racism–of all forms. In terms of workshops for adoptive parents– topics that include racism and racial micro-aggression will likely be helpful as children grow-up. Another movie to consider showing is “Adopted.” It portrays and adult transracial adoptee and her family to a family who is in the beginning stage of adopting from China. I think it has lots of good discussion points.

    Best,

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Reena,
      Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate your comments on discussing topics such as racism and micro-aggression, such important topics to discuss. Also thanks for suggesting the movie, “Adopted.” I’ve heard of the film, but haven’t had the opportunity to see it yet. I’ve added it to my want-to- see list!

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  3. Sarah

    I am in Arizona and would love to have more information. Somewhere Between and Stuck premieres were very beneficial and I was so glad to be apart of them.

    We are adopting our first child from Taiwan but the more research I am doing about International Adoption, the more information and help I think we will need. We want to be prepared and we don’t pretend that this decision won’t effect all of ourlives tremendously. We are already looking for as much support as possible and post-adoption support would make a world of difference.

    I have found the movie premieres enlightening and I would look forward to anything you could offer to us. Please let me know how I can help. Thank you for working so hard for adoptive families.

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Sarah, thanks so much for visiting. Did we meet at the Somewhere Between screening? I remember meeting a couple who were in the process of adopting from Taiwan. I’ll keep you posted about the possibility of another screening. I really appreciate your comments. The best to you and your husband.

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      1. Sarah

        Yes we met at the screening. It was so wonderful to meet so many adoptive families. We are still waiting for our court date but hope to bring her home soon.

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  4. Jeremy Uriz

    Fabulous post.

    Your colleague that pointed out adoptive parents are “so excited about adopting that they tune these issues out only later to discover the very complex nature of raising an internationally adopted child” makes a great point. The emphasis up to the point of travel is getting your paperwork completed. Making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, that documents don’t expire. and all the proper seals and notarizations are in place.

    We read Scott Simon’s “Baby We Were Meant for Each Other” shortly before our trip to China. The NPR host presented the kaleidoscopic world of adoption with stories, ranging from Thomas Lauderdale (of the band Pink Martini) positive exploitation of “being different” to tragic (Thomas’ adopted sister Jenni who committed suicide). Additionally I subscribed to several Chinese adoption message boards and read about a host of difficulties parents experienced and how other families dealt with the challenges.

    Nearly a year into our lives together our daughter hasn’t exhibited any of the behaviors we anticipated. She’s not overly nice, acting as if a single disappointment from her mom and dad will lead to separation. Nor is she detached or withdrawn. She is affectionate, picky,opinionated, and joyful. It’s as if she knew what we read and decided she’d do the opposite.

    It’s early days for us. I know there are many challenges ahead, some related to adoption and others not.

    Your plans to show adoption related films followed by conversation sound great. If Atlanta were closer to Arizona we would attend!

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Jeremy, thanks for your comments. The book you mentioned sounds interesting, and I also love Pink Martini. I didn’t know that Thomas Lauderdale was adopted. Thanks for sharing. Also, I think adoptees are all so different. One might struggle with identity issues, another with behavioral/emotional issues, and another may have very few problems related to adoption. I’m so glad that things are going well for you and your family! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Delana

    You are so right that adoptive parents need support and training in working with kids adopted from abroad and domestically (particularly kids 3 and older).

    As a mom who has raised biological children and have now been raising a child adopted from an orphanage in Thailand, I can say that my years of parenting helped a lot, but still did not prepare me. One thing a couple can do while waiting to adopt is to make sure they are equipped at least for general parenting. Resources that are great include the books: Parenting with Love and Logic, Have a new Kid by Friday. Much of the advice in these books will also apply when raising a child that has been adopted. But that is just a starting place. Parents should also read books such as: Keys to Parenting an Adopted Child, Our Own. Each of these books will help parents begin developing tools for parenting. Finally, parents should be part of a support group…with those who have already adopted…and begin to learn about resources available to them in their community, such as: therapists, counselors, church staff with experience in helping adoptive families, etc.

    http://nineyearpregnancy.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/4-tips-to-prepare-emotionally-to-parent-an-adopted-child/

    Blessings,
    Delana

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