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Adoption Techniques for Treating Adoptive Parent Issues
Adoptive Parent continuing education psychologist CEUs

Section 4
Surviving the Adoption Process

CEUs Question 4 | CEUs Test | Table of Contents | Adoption
Social Worker CEU, Psychologist CE, Counselor CEU, MFT CEU

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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.

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

4 Aspects to Surviving the Wait

Aspect #1 - Dealing with Parents
First, let’s discuss dealing with parents.  Some families have long discussions with family and friends before they actually decide to adopt.  If you have strong, supportive friends and relatives who can discuss the pros and cons of adoption in a balanced way, you may find such discussions helpful and informative. 

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
When Tess told me she wanted to adopt another child, I suggested that she try the "Eight Things to Tell Your Family" Technique.  I stated, "The ‘Eight Things to Tell Your Family’ Technique is designed to help you deal with negative reactions from family and friends.  

-- 1. Eight things to keep in mind include first, to be sure of what you want before you tell your family and be ready to explain why you have made this decision. 
-- 2. Second, you might bring up some of your own concerns about adoption, how you addressed those concerns, and your conclusions. 
-- 3. Third, acknowledge the risks involved in adopting an older child and what you plan to do in case of severe emotional or behavioral problems. 
-- 4. Fourth, if your child has known disabilities, explain the problem and your child’s limitations openly and honestly. 
-- 5. Fifth, answer any questions they have if they present those questions in a calm, rational way. 
-- 6. Sixth, explain how you think the adoption will affect your other children, and what you’re doing to prepare and protect them. 
-- 7. Seventh, remind them that this is your decision, that you made it carefully, and that you would appreciate their support. 
-- 8. Eighth and last, offer to give your parents names and numbers of other grandparents or extended families for support or to sign them up for a grandparents group if your agency offers one."

Aspect #3 - Losing a Referral
Second, let’s discuss losing a referral.  Sadly, many parents become attached to a child through a picture or report, only to lose the referral later.  The reasons for a lost referral may vary.  In the case of international adoptions, referrals can be lost when the birth-family reclaims a child from the orphanage.  Occasionally, agencies will refer the same child to two or more families, trying to ensure placement.

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
How do parents cope with the loss of a referral after the child has been removed from their home?  Joel and Denise used what I call the Farewell Technique, in other words, Joel and Denise had a kind of "funeral" ritual to say good-bye to Chloe.  Denise stated, "We did a little ritual where we quietly shredded all the referral paperwork and said goodbye to Chloe and wished her and her mother luck.  It was important to us to say goodbye to Chloe after she had occupied our heart for months, even before we actually adopted her."

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.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Lavner, J. A., Waterman, J., & Peplau, L. A. (2014). Parent adjustment over time in gay, lesbian, and heterosexual parent families adopting from foster care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(1), 46–53.

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.

Weinstein, N. D., & Sandman, P. M. (1992). A model of the precaution adoption process: Evidence from home radon testing. Health Psychology, 11(3), 170–180.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 4
Why do some adoptive families wait until after they have received the referral to tell their loved ones? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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