Panel of Parents Adopting Older Kids: Surviving that 1st Year – Creating a Family

Source: https://creatingafamily.org/

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Adopting and fostering older kids is hard for both the child and the parent, especially the first year. A panel of moms who have adopted older kids share their tips for surviving the first year home. Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Melissa Basham, mom to 4 boys adopted from foster care; Abigail Betancourt, mom to 2 kids adopted from foster care; Jan Egozi, mom to one child adopted internationally; and Shelley McMullen, mom to 1 child adopted internationally.

Listen to podcast.

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Research Study Participants Sought Regarding Transracial Adoption

16972215_s-sizedAs many of you know, NCFA is committed to, and passionate about, research regarding adoption.  Some of that research is assembled and published by NCFA, including our Adoption: By the Numbers, where they report the most comprehensive statistics on adoption in the United States.   In addition to the research they conduct, they also promote the research done by others to further our understanding of adoption and issues related to adoption.  Toward that end, NCFA is sending along information about a research project being conducted regarding transracial adoption and foster care.

A researcher at Florida State University is interested in connecting with parents who are fostering or have adopted transracially.  If you think this description is a good fit for your clients or network, please consider passing this information along to them.

Parents who are currently fostering or have adopted transracially are needed for a research study.  Interested participants will take a pre-course measure, be randomly assigned a treatment or control course, and then complete a post-course measure.  All participation in the study is completed online, and the fosterparentcollege.com course login id and password will be assigned to each participant by the researcher.  Participants will have 30 days to complete the course.  Total time to complete the surveys and course online takes 3 hours, and participants can come and go as they please.  Participants who complete the study will receive a $20 Visa gift card.  Interested participants should e-mail or contact Jordan Montgomery at jem14e@my.fsu.edu or 850-661-6454.

Sincerely,

Ryan Hanlon, MA, MS, MSW
Vice President of Education, Research, and Constituent Services
National Council For Adoption

8 Crucial Tips For Kinship Adoption

Source: https://creatingafamily.org/

By Dawn Davenport

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Here are our top eight tips for smoothly integrating children adopted through kinship adoption into your family.

  1. Get Educated. Adoptive parenting is different from parenting kids from birth. Not worse, not better, but different. Parents who adopt a niece, nephew, or grandchild need the same preparation as other adoptive parents. We have a ton of resources at Adoption A-Z Resource Guide.
  2. Seek Expertise. You will need to find an adoption attorney or adoption agency to help you navigate through a kinship adoption. We have a great free multimedia guide to help you-Creating a Family’s Multimedia Guide on Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney. Make sure to ask whomever you hire how many kinship adoptions they do each year in your state.
  3. Keep the focus on the child and what is in the child’s best interest as you navigate the post adoption relationships in your family. This is sometimes easier said than done, so spend time pre-adoption talking with your extended family members about what you think is best for the child.

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The Scariest Special Need of All—Would You Adopt This Child?

Source: https://creatingafamily.org

By Dawn Davenport

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In my experience there is one special need that scares prospective adoptive parents the most. The one where even parents who have a wide range of acceptance for special needs will often say “no”. The special need that is preventing thousands of children from being adopted. That special need is being the victim of sexual abuse. Yes, that special need is actually being the victim of abuse!

Through no fault of their own these children have been sexually abused and are now being victimized again by the near universal fear of raising a child that has been sexually abused. Irony anyone?

I have been told by countless social worker that if the child has a record of sexual abuse in their file or a record of showing the symptoms of having been sexually abused, the chances of finding an adoptive family becomes infinitely harder. This breaks my heart.

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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.

~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

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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.

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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.

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