Adam Pertman, their director, mentioned at the adoption conference that they were going to release a report this week on post-adoption services. And now they have -- Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed. From the Executive Summary:
Several months ago, when the media focused the nation's attention on yet another sensational adoption story - this time about a Tennessee mother who put her 7-year-old son on a plane back to Russia – all sorts of disquieting questions flowed through people's minds. They ranged from the rhetorical ("What kind of mother would do such a thing?") to the important ("Are children in orphanages being adequately cared for before adoption?") to the inadvertently stigmatizing ("If a child can be so easily `returned,' is adoption really permanent?").The findings are fascinating, including discussion of why some adopted children are at risk of physical, developmental, psychological, and emotional issues, and the "protective factors" in children and families that can help ameliorate the problems. I'll write more about it after I've digested this lengthy report.
Most child welfare and adoption professionals watched the drama with better-trained, more-experienced eyes, however, and so they raised very different questions. For example: "Did the mother get accurate information about the boy before adopting, as well as training and education, so she would be prepared for the challenges of parenting a child who had been institutionalized?" And, most pointedly: "Were post-adoption services readily available to her so that she could help her son, and herself, rather than giving up?"
Over the last two decades, our nation has seen steep increases in the number of adoptions from foster care in the United States and from orphanages abroad – which, combined, make up the vast majority of non-stepparent adoptions; i.e., we have made considerable progress in finding enduring families for girls and boys who have suffered from abuse, neglect, multiple placements, institutionalization and other pre-adoption experiences that can cause them physical, psychological, emotional and developmental harm. Now the paradigm has to shift, and our priority must be not only to achieve permanency, but also to assure that adoptive parents receive the supports they need to raise their children to healthy adulthood.