Friday, July 23, 2010

Post-Adoption Services

Anon left a comment to this post, and described the blog of an adoptive parent she follows: "A year and a half after adopting, she admitted with shame that they have been forced to seek counseling. Rather than be willing to recognize that needing help with coping with an international adoption, or acknowledge that there are a lot of experts out there with a ton of useful knowledge to impart, she is ashamed."   Unfortumately, that's not an uncommon reaction to needing post-adoption services.  The "love is all you need" meme is designed to make adoptive parents feel like failures if their child and/or family need something more.

Let's see if we can demystify post-adoption services.  Here's a list, with brief descriptions that I edited a bit to make briefer, from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, of typical post-adoption services:

Adoptive Parent Support Groups. In an adoptive parent support group, adoptive and prospective adoptive parents come together to offer and receive information and support from their peers. Parent groups offer their members and other participants a support system, friendships, educational programming, social interactions with other adoptive families, and advice from experienced adoptive parents. Parent groups exist throughout the country and vary extensively, from small playgroups for toddlers adopted through intercountry adoptions to large regional groups offering a range of programs and services to their members (who can number in the hundreds). Most parent groups are organized and administered by adoptive parent volunteers.

Online support groups. Available 24 hours a day, Internet support groups now number in the thousands. Through participating in these groups, parents will likely find families who have experienced exactly what they are going through and who will be able to provide helpful suggestions. Parents should remember, however, to use the same precautions with online support groups that are used for any Internet activity.

Psychological therapy/counseling. Members of adoptive families may at times want or need professional help as concerns or problems arise. Timely intervention by a professional skilled in adoption issues often can prevent concerns from becoming more serious problems. The type and duration of therapy will vary depending on the kinds of problems being addressed. Some families build a relationship with a therapist over years, "checking in" for help as needed. Others find they need a therapist's help only occasionally.

Respite care. Sometimes parents just need to get away for a while, reframe their problems, and get some rest. Respite care is a service that offers parents a temporary break from their parenting responsibilities. It is meant for families with children who require more skilled care than babysitters can provide or for parents going through a crisis of their own. Respite care can be in-home, meaning the respite worker comes to the house and stays with the children while the parents go out. With out-of-home respite, the parents take the children to a designated site.

Seminars/conferences. Many adoptive parent support groups, adoption agencies, and postadoption service organizations offer education in adoption issues through workshops and conferences that range in length from a few hours to a few days. At an adoption conference, parents can learn about the adoption topics that are most important to them, have questions answered by the experts, socialize with other adoptive family members, and have the opportunity to purchase adoption-related books and other informative materials.
Books and magazines. There are many helpful books on adoption for children and adults. Many of the children's books explain the "whys" of adoption and describe the process by which children are adopted. Some may help as children begin to question and discuss their own adoption story. Some of the books help parents look at the unique aspects of adoptive parenting. Others are written specifically for those who have adopted children with particular needs or who are parenting children from other cultures.

Camps/recreational opportunities/heritage camps. Overnight camps or retreats are a powerful way for members of adoptive families to connect not only with others like themselves, but also with their own family members. Such events, typically weeklong, often combine adoption and ethnic heritage education and support with traditional camping activities. Family camps offer activities for all members of the family.
I can also think of more post-adoption services that in my experience many adoptive families use because of developmental delays or physical issues related to institutional care -- early childhood intervention, physical therapy, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, speech therapy.

OK, I tried to use Blogger's poll service, but it isn't working, so let's try this:


OmegaMom said...

Um...So where's the poll??

We've used online support groups, occupational therapy, local FCC groups, and attended a variety of heritage camps. We're also considering some more therapy for the dotter, more attachment oriented, I think due to suppressed angst at GrannyJ's death.

malinda said...

I did the post before the poll -- should have done the poll first, obviously! It's up now. . . .

It's interesting what you say about therapy needed because of a triggering death. Zoe started with a play therapist because of her sadness and worry about her birth parents, but it was just before my dad died. So far she's been working through issues related to that and to school, and nothing about her birth family.

Wendy said...

I participated in the poll, but it still shows zero responses.

thriftymomma said...

Oh honey we use all of it, except for respite which is not existent here unless you count the fact that my daughter is in day camp this week and it is therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs and it is working so for me that's respite. But anything available we use. Where it is not available we argue for it or write letters for it or seek service to be replicated or adjusted for our child. I understand this as most adoptive parents do not go to their adoption worker and most do feel shame. If only they knew how common it is to need help. We run a post-adoption support group here and really they should be everywhere. People think well love them harder or the kids aren't any different than bio. kids and frankly they are different little people and we have to work harder or differently to parent them. Doing so requires help.

Anonymous said...

We have been going to an adoption/attachment therapist for about 6 months and I HIGHLY recommend it. It makes me sad that people find it shameful. Just yesterday, a woman told me that when she worked in the police force, a chaplain said to her, "Would you hesitate to get a professional to work with you to heal a broken arm or disfunctional digestive system? So why would you hesitate to get a professional to work with you to heal your broken heart or your disfunctional phyche?"

Amy said...

We used early intervention, and continue to use speech therapy. Informally, we have used adoption support groups locally and online.

Von said...

Adoptees need all the help they can get.Never assume that because they're taking about Granny's death it's not about their loss, about attachment and about trauma.It's all connected, we are all after all whole people!

Dee said...

We've used: early intervention, speech therapy, adoption and cultural support groups, seminars/conferences, counseling with Ph.D. psychologists (for dh and me on an individual basis), books/articles/newsletters, online groups, and heritage camps.

Home 5 years with 6-year-old DD.

Anonymous said...

We received an early childhood support eval--determined not needed, adoption specialist eval, occupational therapy--needed for aftercare from surgery for limb difference, behavioral therapy--NO one would see my daughter at age two when her PTSD was at it's height, they told us to return when she was four, what??? Our beloved behavioral therapist took her on as a patient doing the best she could (and working behind the scenes with a child psychologist), online support, heritage camps, trip to China, on-going foster family connection, recent birth family connection, other families from China, adult adoptee guidance, books, books, and more books.
My suggestion is to search for the information and search some more if you are denied. Never take no for an answer.