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On the last track, we discussed Age, Race & Disabilities in Adoption. This has included Which Age?, Trans-racial Adoption and Adopting the Disabled.
Do you have a client whose parents are not happy with his or her plans to adopt?
On this track, we will discuss Surviving the Wait. This will include Dealing with Parents, the "Eight Things to Tell Your Family", Losing a Referral and the Farewell Technique.
The wait to get an adopted child will be difficult, more so than many imagine before beginning the process. However, it can also be a time of intense preparation and activity. One of the first things parents do after the referral, is to announce the imminent arrival of their child to family and friends.
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4 Aspects to Surviving the Wait
Aspect #1 - Dealing with Parents
However, many families I have talked to waited until after they received the referral to tell their loved ones. The most common reason given is fear that something will go wrong, or that they will change their minds, and the adoption will fall through. Another significant reason that parents wait is the fear that family and friends will not approve and may try to influence their decision. Sadly, this is often true.
Tess, a single adoptive mother, age 35, stated, "My mother just plainly said, ‘We could never love a child who isn’t ours!’ It upset me so much and it really put a damper on things. My parents are very concerned with what others think, and they didn’t think Russian grandchildren would go over too well in their circle of friends. Once they found out their friends thought it was a good thing they started saying things like, ‘Ooh, we have the most beautiful grandchildren in the whole world, and they’re extremely bright too!’ The whole thing was really a bad experience."
Parents are parents for life, and it doesn’t stop when your child is eighteen or twenty. If you run into family opposition, just try to keep in mind that in most cases, it’s provoked by love and fear for your future. Just knowing that, though, is often not enough. You must also know how to cope with it.
Aspect #2 - Eight Things to Tell Your Family Technique
Aspect #3 - Losing a Referral
Joel and Denise accepted a legal-risk placement of a 14-year-old girl named Chloe. Joel stated, "All the workers expected that Chloe would be with us permanently, as her mother made no effort to meet the court’s requirements to take Chloe home. After Chloe had been with us for three months, her birthmother was granted custody in a court hearing. Her abusive husband had committed suicide." Denise stated, "We were absolutely devastated. We considered Chloe ours, and then she was taken from our custody."
In domestic adoptions, a legal-risk placement, like the one Joel and Denise experienced, can be fairly common. Your client may need to be ready for the possibility, however remote it may seem, that a birth-parent may reclaim the child if your client accepts a placement for a child who has not been legally freed for adoption yet. In some cases, the courts or social services assume that termination of parental rights will happen quickly, but circumstances change.
Aspect #4 - Farewell Technique
Do you have a Joel or Denise who has just lost a referral? Might you play this track for him or her during your next session? On this track, we have discussed Surviving the Wait. This has included Dealing with Parents and Losing a Referral.
On the next track, we will discuss techniques for breaking the news. This will include the "chair dialogue" technique, the "write a letter" technique, the reflection technique and the rating technique.
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