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Adoption Techniques for Treating Adoptive Parent Issues
Adoptive Parent continuing education addiction counselor CEUs

Section 1
Factors that Motivate Adoption

CEUs Question 1 | CEUs Test | Table of Contents | Introduction | Adoption
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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New Content Added: To update the content we have added Parent - Attachment Disorder information found at the end of the Table of Contents.

Do you have a client
considering adoption?  What are his or her motives for adopting?

On this track, we will discuss Motives for Adoption.  These will include Love and a Good Home Alone, the "Savior Complex," and the "Feelings About Adoption" Technique.  As you listen, consider your client’s motives.  How do you respond?

Have you found, as I have, that some clients pursue adopting older children purely as a way to help a needy or hurt child?  In my experience, adoption professionals tend to warn against choosing a child solely because that child is needy or hurt.  The fantasy of a rescued waif will soon become the reality of a flesh-and-blood child complete with personality, having behavioral habits, and emotional issues.

Brett and Nancy were looking into adopting their first child.  Brett stated, "We became interested in adopting after reading an article in the paper about how many children worldwide are removed from their parents for reasons of abuse and neglect.  That isn’t even to mention the poverty in which many of these children live!"  Nancy stated, "We have been looking into adopting Tara, a 5-year-old girl from El Salvador, who was abused.  Tara will be so happy to be rescued from that terrible life in poverty and abuse!  All she needs is love and a good home!"

2 Motives for Adoption

Motive #1 - Love and a Good Home Alone
First, I explained to Brett and Nancy that Tara might have adoption issues that love and a good home alone could not fix.  I stated, "Regardless of how wonderful Tara’s new home will be, Tara will probably have to work through fears and anger related to abandonment and rejection from her birth parents.  Tara’s fears and anger will probably surface during the teen years as Tara struggles to form an identity and decide which qualities of both families to retain."

Motive #2 - The "Savior Complex"
Second, I felt that Brett and Nancy had a "savior complex."  Nancy’s expectation of Tara being eternally grateful to she and Brett for rescuing her was probably unrealistic.  It seemed unlikely that any child would be perfect enough all the time to fill the stereotyped picture of the grateful orphan.

I stated, "It can be hard to believe that children who have endured abuse, famine, abandonment or institutionalization will ever be ungrateful.  However, for Tara, these conditions are probably familiar.  Even children who live in abusive or neglectful homes consider them home, and few would ever choose to leave.  To Tara, adoption might look more like change than rescue, and change can be scary."

I explained to Brett and Nancy that many children who live in orphanages come to view those orphanages as home too.  Tara will not be grateful all the time simply because Brett and Nancy had met some of her needs.  I gave Brett and Nancy an example.  I stated, "Let’s say you became ill and your neighbor took care of you and brought you food.  Would you be willing to graciously turn your lives over to that neighbor’s control, simply out of gratitude?"  I explained that altruism by itself might not be a good reason to adopt.

Instead, I felt Brett and Nancy might strive for a balance in their parenting.  I explained, "Balance can help you meet your personal goals, help Tara, and at the same time allow Tara to express her feelings and independence in an accepting and realistic environment."  I explained that balance could help Brett and Nancy to impart their values and ideas to Tara and watch her achieve her full potential, whatever that potential might be.

Technique for Social Work CEUs, Psychology CEUs, Psychologist CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Addiction Counselor CEUs, and MFT CEUs

Technique: Feelings About Adoption
I suggested that Brett and Nancy try the "Feelings About Adoption" Technique to help them identify some of their reasons for wanting to adopt.  I stated,
-- Step # 1 - "First, over the next two weeks, take an index card with you every day.  Note any feelings about adoption that come up during your day.  Note the time and circumstances under which these feelings occur.
-- Step # 2 - Second, each of you can keep a journal and refer to these cards during your journal writing.  Are there any patterns?  Are there moments of fear, doubt, joy, excitement, or sadness?  What triggers these emotions?  Spend fifteen minutes or more writing about this exercise in your journal. 
-- Step # 3 - As you catalog these feelings, note any patterns that emerge.  Does having contact with particular people or being in certain situations trigger fears about adoption?  Why?  Are there other people or situations that make you feel confident about adopting?"

Do you have a Brett or a Nancy who may be adopting out of idealism?  Might he or she benefit from hearing this track?  On this track, we have discussed Motives for Adoption.  These have included Love and a Good Home Alone, the "Savior Complex," and the "Feelings About Adoption" Technique.

On the next track, we will discuss Four Factors of Parenting.  These will include commitment, flexibility, empathy and intuition.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Goldberg, A. E., Smith, J. Z., & Kashy, D. A. (2010). Preadoptive factors predicting lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples' relationship quality across the transition to adoptive parenthood. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 221–232.

Jaffari-Bimmel, N., Juffer, F., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., & Mooijaart, A. (2006). Social development from infancy to adolescence: Longitudinal and concurrent factors in an adoption sample. Developmental Psychology, 42(6), 1143–1153. 

Testa, M. F., Snyder, S. M., Wu, Q., Rolock, N., & Liao, M. (2015). Adoption and guardianship: A moderated mediation analysis of predictors of post-permanency continuity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(2), 107–118.

Why might some adopted children be reluctant to leave abusive homes? To select and enter your answer go to To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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