A Guide to Selecting An Adoption Or Foster Therapist

Source: https://creatingafamily.org/

Guest post by Carol Lozier, Forever-Families

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Image credit: adesigna

Families experience great joy as they welcome newly adopted or foster children into their lives. When a child comes home, parents might start counseling right away or the need may not arise until a later time, such as adolescence. Identifying the right therapist can be a challenging task, especially if a parent is not familiar with the counseling field. This article gives parents direction on choosing the right adoption counselor for their child. There are many factors to consider, from insurance and office location, to the therapist’s degree and training. Any reputable therapist will be happy to answer questions about themselves and their practice. Some questions to ask the prospective therapist include:

Do you have a masters’ degree (or greater) in a counseling related field? Counseling related fields include: psychology, social work, psychiatry, and marriage and family therapy.

Do you have a license to practice independently? Each state and degree have different requirements, but a license indicates the therapist passed state boards showing competency in their degree.

When did you finish your counseling degree? It is preferable for the therapist to have completed their degree more than five years ago. Of course, more experience is desirable.

Do you take my insurance? If the therapist is in-network with your insurance, call the company to request benefit information and an authorization (if needed). If the therapist is out-of- network, call the company to determine your benefits. You will want to ask about your deductible, co-pays, co-insurance, and requirement for authorization.

How many years have you worked with foster and adopted children? An effective counselor will have at least two to three years expertise in the area of foster care or adoptions. And ideally, 30% to 50% of the therapist’s practice should be with foster or adopted children.

What is the location of your practice? Ask about location as it can make a difference in your choice.

As the parent, will I stay in the room during my child’s sessions? Typically, an adoption therapist keeps parents in the therapy session with the child. The parent remains in the room for information and attachment opportunities.

How were you trained to work in this area? There are many acceptable treatment models, including: Theraplay, Narrative therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and Dyadic Developmental therapy. Research whichever model the therapist uses so that you are familiar with the process and know what to expect in sessions.

What additional training do you have that augments your chosen model? It is suggested that therapists have additional training in: individual therapy with children and adults, family therapy, child development, trauma work, and cognitive and behavior therapy.

Will we meet alone with you in the first session or do we bring our child? A general rule of thumb is parents attend the first session alone unless the child is an adolescent, then the child may accompany the parents.

These last questions are for the family to ask themselves after the first visit or two: Do we feel this therapist is a positive and comfortable fit for our family? Is the counselor open to our questions about the therapy process? You want to be able to answer “Yes” to both of these questions, as the therapeutic relationship is interactive and built on trust and respect.

Building the Bonds of Attachment with Adopted Children

Source: https://creatingafamily.org

By Dawn Davenport

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Attachment is vital to emotional development. What can adoptive parents do to build the bonds of attachment with their adopted children? Join guest Dr. Dan Hughes, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of children with attachment issues. He is the author of five books including Building the Bonds of Attachment and Attachment-Focused Parenting.

Highlights of the show

  • How much of an issue is attachment in different types of adoption (domestic, international, older child, etc.)?
  • How does the inter-uterine environment affect a child?
  • How does fetal alcohol syndrome affect attachment?
  • Tips on building attachment with young children
  • How can parents transition an adopted child to a daycare program without ruining attachment bonds?
  • How can parents help their children work through attachment issues?
  • How important is it for parents to make sure they are taking care of themselves?
  • What can parents do when they feel like they do not love their adopted child as much as their biological child?
  • How long is normal before parents feel attached to their children?
  • Why do some children have an easy attachment process and other children have a difficult attachment process?
  • Attachment issues in biological children.
  • Unevenness in attachment
  • Can attachment issues appear later in life?
  • How can parents find a good attachment councilor for their children?
  • Attachment issues with trans-racial adoptions

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Setting Limits with Adopted Teens-If the Answer is No, Say No

Source: https://creatingafamily.org/

By Dawn Davenport

Setting-Limits

I’ve noticed a trend in the last several year–parents afraid to discipline their adopted kids or unable to say “no” for fear of damaging their attachment or ego. At times I wonder if we’ve created a monster by all our emphasis on attachment, but I firmly believe that adopted children, actually all children, desperately need us to say no and set limits. Doing so is not in contradiction to creating attachment–in fact, setting limits supports attachment!

I recently read a book that I absolutely loved: Parenting in the Eye of the Storm: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years by Katie Naftzger, an adoption therapist and adult adoptee. This book would be the perfect read for all adoptive parents with kids 8+.

I interviewed Ms.  Naftzger on a Creating a Family Radio show titled Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Navigating the Teen Years. She was preaching to the choir with me. So much so that I invited her to do this guest blog post.

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I just want her to be happy.

If I could make life easier for him, why wouldn’t I do that?

I don’t want him to feel abandoned. How could I say no?

She’s already been through so much!

Do any of these statements sound familiar? For adoptive parents of teens, setting limits is often complicated. Your teen has already been through a lot. At one point in time, their basic needs were probably compromised. Of course, a part of you would want to give them everything they needed and more, but there’s a cost.

Setting limits helps your teen to feel more prepared for young adulthood. It teaches responsibility and helps develop much-needed coping skills. It also helps them to trust you more. They want to know that you’ll do what’s right, even if it means standing up to them.

Here’s a work example:

I was sitting with an adoptive mom and 12 y/o daughter, finishing up our family therapy session. The daughter asked, “Mom, can we go and get a cupcake across the street?”

The mom grimaced. “Oh, sweetie, I don’t know. I don’t want you to be late for gymnastics. There might be a lot of traffic. Plus, you already had ice cream when we got home from school…” Her mom looked around the room and she trailed off.

Her daughter’s voice became shriller. “Mom, we’ll have of time to get there, I promise. I’m not going to be late! Seriously! And, I just had one popsicle after school. Those things are so small! I don’t think that should even count. Come on, Mom, please? Please!”

I said to the mom, quietly, “If the answer is no, just say no.”

At that point, her mom made direct eye contact with her daughter and said, “The answer is no.”

How did the daughter react? She let it go, immediately. And, she was fine. Surprising, isn’t it, given that her daughter was so bent on it just a second ago!

Tips for Setting Limits with Adopted Teens

1. Don’t backtrack or apologize.

Imagine if the mom had said “Oh sweetie, the answer is no…but maybe we can get a cupcake next time we’re here! I’m sorry, sweetie!”

2. Don’t negotiate.

It can be painful for adoptees to feel like they’re begging for something, particularly if they’re struggling with feelings of low self-worth and feelings of abandonment.

3. Don’t send mixed messages.

If the mom had said no but continued to look all around the room, it would have sent mixed messages. Her words would have said no but her body language would have said, I’m not sure.

4. Convey guidelines and consequences ahead of time.

This mom knew her daughter pretty well. She could probably have predicted that her daughter would ask her for a cupcake. The simplest way to go would be to make an overarching decision – always or never.

5. Improve your savvy.

It can be challenging for adoptive parents when their teen gets into stuff that is outside of their experience, such as drugs, alcohol, aggressive behavior, etc. It’s good to learn to think like your teen. When your teen perceives you as naive or oblivious, they tend to lose respect for you. Trust your intuition. If you think something’s going on, it’s usually true. Your aim isn’t to control them. It’s to help them to make informed decisions.

When parenting teens it is important to remember that they don’t have to agree with you. There are certain decisions that are collaborative and others that are solely yours. And, if you’re not sure where to begin, start with the cupcake.

3 Reasons Traditional Parenting Doesn’t Work with Kids from Trauma by Mike Berry

Source: http://www.rainbowkids.com

The following article was graciously shared, with permission, by Mike Berry from the blog Confessions of an Adoptive Parent.

feat_smIf you’ve parented a child from a traumatic past for any length of time, you already know that traditional parenting techniques do not work. But, have you ever stopped to consider why, or what you could do differently?

Kristin and I both grew up in traditional households, with parents who used traditional techniques in raising us both. There were rules and restrictions, guidelines and boundaries. And if said rules, restrictions, guidelines and boundaries were crossed, BAM, consequences were enforced. No questions asked. From all accounts, these techniques worked. We both grew up to be responsible adults who knew the difference between right and wrong. But, we also never endured significant trauma as children.

Continue reading.

Post Adoption Depression: Causes and Prevention

Post-Adoption-Depression-300x183$20.00 ********FREE TO HOPSCOTCH PLACING CLIENTS!!!!!

Post adoption depression and parent attachment disorder are surprisingly common and seldom talked about. After all, since you’ve tried so hard to become a parent, many adoptive parents are ashamed to admit that they are struggling.

REGISTER NOW

Books on Toddler and Older Child Adoption for Adoptive Parents

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Source: https://creatingafamily.org

Toddler Adoption

Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best. Great information. The author was interviewed on the Creating a Family radio show.

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Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Children Over Age Four by Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, MA; Gloria Russo Wassell, MS, LMHC; and Victor Groza, PhD. – This is a wonderful resource full of practical and hopeful tips for parents who have adopted a child over age four from foster care or through international adoption. The adoption therapist authors do not gloss over potential problems, but they don’t exaggerate them either. Listen to our interview with them on the Creating a Family Radio Show- Parenting Older Adopted Kids: A Practical Guide.

Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care

Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections by Deborah N. Silverstein and Susan Livingston Smith – This book is a comprehensive resource on issues facing siblings during foster care or adoption – both biological and adopted.

Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child

Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child by Trish Maskew

Adopting the Older Child

Adopting the Older Child by Claudia L. Jewett- Written in 1979 but still relevant.

Adopting a Toddler: What Size Shoe Does She Wear?

Adopting a Toddler: What Size Shoes Does She Wear? by Denise Harris Hoppenhauer – Offers great insight and practical advice for those preparing to adopt a toddler.

Nurturing Adoptions

Nurturing Adoptions – Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma by Deborah Gray – Anything by Deborah Gray is great. On our show she said this book was primarily written for adoption professionals, but I think adoptive parents will find a lot of useful information as well.

The Connected Child

The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family by Karyn B. Purvis, David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine

Parenting Your Adopted Older Child

Parenting Your Adopted Older Child By Brenda McCreight – Good overview!

Another Place at the Table

Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison – I loved this book. It is the true life tale of one foster family and is very well written. I couldn’t put it down.

5 Tips for Parenting Harder to Parent Adopted Kids

Source: https://creatingafamily.org

By Dawn Davenport

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Sometimes parenting feels like we are soaring. Everything is clicking—we get the kids out the door in the morning without a major tantrum and we’re no more than 10 minutes late, we are eating semi-nutritious meals most days, and the little darlings are in bed with a minimum of fuss and teeth more or less brushed most nights.

Then there are times when it feels like we are slugging it out in the trenches. Often it is one particular child that puts us there. Perhaps this child was adopted at an older age after experiencing trauma, or maybe she has brain damage  caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol or drugs, or maybe this child’s temperament is a really poor match for yours. Whatever the reason, some kids are simply more challenging to parent.

When you are in the trenches it’s hard to see a way out. It’s at those times that you need some “quick” tips and tricks to help you cope. Read over these tips every week until you start to climb your way out of the parenting depths.

Read more.

The Past Is Present: The Impact of Your Childhood Experiences on How You Parent Today

Source: www.zerotothree.org

By Claire Lerner

Feb 29, 2016

This article encourages parents to reflect on experiences they had growing up in order to make conscious decisions about what practices they want to repeat, and not repeat, with their own children.

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1f8889c2-74a5-42b1-9bdf-b7bba002388e-smallHow many times have you opened your mouth to say something and heard your parents’ words come out? You’re not alone. Most parents have had this experience. It helps you see how deeply you are influenced by your childhood experiences and why it’s so important to become aware of how they shape your approach to parenting today.

Just as you are your child’s first teacher, your parents were yours. Things they said and did, their way of being and relating to you and others, laid the foundation for many of your beliefs, values, attitudes, and parenting practices. Few parents, if any, had a lesson plan in mind. The transfer of information mostly took place through everyday interactions. You tuned in to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages they sent, which influenced how you thought about yourself and the world around you.

Continue reading.

Decoding Your Child’s Behavior

decoding-2At some point all parents face behavioral challenges with their children. Adopted children have often had unfortunate experiences that may increase misbehavior and make traditional discipline techniques ineffective. Join Phyllis Booth, Founder of Theraplay®, and Mandy Jones, LCSW, JD, certified Theraplay® therapist at the Center for Lifelong Adoption Support, as they provide an empathetic understanding of why negative behaviors occur and discuss tools, techniques and activities that parents can use to tame temper tantrums and create positive relationships.

Topics will include:

  • Differences adopted children face in childhood and how that affects behavior
  • Behavioral and self-regulation issues both at home and in school
  • What parents can do to curb negative behaviors
  • How parents can create happy, connected family relationships

Continue reading.

Upcoming NC Trauma Workshop with Kids Group in April!

a325e9cb065710099d167501ddb471a6This group is open to children who are adopted and their caregivers.

Due to limited space, registration is required.

To register or for more information, please contact  Katie Linn at katie.linn@duke.edu or 919-385-0703.

Thursdays, starting April 27 – June 22, 2017 5:30pm-8:00pm

Dinner is provided and then the separate child and parent groups will begin.

Raleigh Vineyard Church
6894 Litchford Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27615

Workshop Sessions Description

What children will get:

This Interactive workshop for children ages 7-17 is part support, part education and designed for children who have been adopted. This workshop will allow children to:
· Connect with other children in adoptive families
· Learn skills and tools to cope with strong feelings
· Build comfort and confidence in talking about adoption both with their family members and others
· Have FUN!

What parents will get:

Parents will participate in the Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma workshop. This workshop gives caregivers the opportunity to:
· Connect with other adoptive parents to share resources
· Learn how a child’s prior experiences can impact their behaviors
· Explore ways to enhance their strengths as a parent
· Share and learn new skills to influence their child’s behaviors and attitudes

Download the PDF flier.

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