Where Can I Find Post-Adoption Services for Our Family?Posted by Kim
Many times, while we’re in our first adoption process, parents-to-be get caught up in the details of the paperwork and forget that the adoption placement is not the end but rather the beginning of the adoption journey. The recent story – currently all over the news – about the Hansen family from Shelbyville, TN, who sent their adopted son back to Russia because they couldn’t handle him any longer, points to a lack of wide-spread knowledge about the ramifications of adoption, its potential effects on the children, and where to turn for help.
We in the U.S. have become so accepting of adoption as “a good thing” and “normal” that it seems like we (and maybe those in other highly-developed countries) have forgotten a foundational truth: Children available for adoption are only available BECAUSE something has gone wrong. Their birthparents have died, relinquished custody, or have had their parental rights legally terminated because of abuse or neglect. Many of these kids then go into institutional settings while they wait for placement with a family. Institutional settings are no substitute for family settings, even temporary foster ones, so more “damage” occurs while the kids wait. Then, in the best of circumstances, these kids are adopted by a family. They don’t really know that family, they unsure whether they’re going to like that family, and when they’ve already been “let down” (or out-right abused) by other adults in their lives, it’s very hard for them to trust – and then love! – the newest adults in a stream of them who have passed through their lives.
So even in the best of circumstances, children who have been adopted are going to suffer grief/loss, anxiety/fear, depression, post-traumatic stress, insecure attachment at first, and the other consequences of all they’ve been through. It is totally normal for the families who adopt them, then, to need outside help in dealing with what their extraordinary circumstances bring about.
In the harder situations, the children have full-blown cases of Reactive Attachment Disorder. RAD is nothing short of miserable to deal with – for the child and the parents. When adoptions “disrupt” (the parents relinquish the child), RAD is almost always the reason.
So Where Can a Family Look for Post-Adoption Help? Here are a few links to get you started.
POST-ADOPTION INFORMATION, COUNSELING, AND OTHER RELATED SERVICES:
- A4EverFamily - Loads of information in their left sidebar!
- ATTACh (Association for the Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children) – An international organization, based in Lake Villa, IL.
- Attach-China International
- The Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio - Services not limited to Ohio residents.
- C.A.S.E. (Center for Adoption Support and Education) – C.A.S.E. provides counseling and educational services to adoptive families, educators, adoption services providers, social workers, mental health and human services providers, and to adoptees themselves.
- Casey Family Services - Serves the New England region with counseling and training services, but also provides resource material nationally.
- Center for Family Connections – based in Cambridge, MA
- Child Welfare Information Gateway – Administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Children’s Bureau, and the Administration for Children and Families. This site is a great place to start, get validation that the what your family is experiencing, while not “normal” for families in general, is totally normal for adoptive families and that help is available.
- Dillon International - For heritage camps, birth country trips, parent education.
- Holt International - An adoption agency that’s been operating since the 1950′s and has a solid reputation. They take calls, regardless of agency affiliation and will direct you to helpful sources.
- Local Therapy/Counseling Services – I can’t list an exhaustive State-by-State here, but call any local counseling clinic and ask for a referral to someone who has specific experience with post-adoption therapy, or search online (use your State’s name + “post adoption services”).
- Your Own Agency – Take advantage of every resource they’ll provide. They know your family and your child; who better to turn to! (This presumes that you had a good experience with them, I realize. If not, jump to one of the places above.)
CRISIS INTERVENTION, RESPITE, ALTERNATE PLACEMENT:
- ARCH National Respite Network – State-by-State search for respite services.
- Attachment Consultants of the Ozarks – Based in Missouri, but with intensive-therapy treatments of varying lengths available for families who can travel to participate.
- Attachment Services of Central Florida - Services include a 2-week intensive therapy service for children diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and their parents.
- Attachment Treatment & Training Institute - Run by Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, Evergreen, CO. Their site includes lodging information for families admitted into their 2-week intensive program.
- The Mending Hearts Program – Run by Kentucky Adoption Services, offers post-placement help for families in crisis and new-placement services for families who decide they cannot parent the child they have adopted.
- The Ranch for Kids - Provides therapeutic respite services for your child. It is costly, but includes schooling, counseling, animal therapy, vocational training and medication supervision. The program aims to enable children and families to reunite with a more secure attachment; however, they also provide adoption placement services for those whose parents decide to annul or disrupt their adoptions.
Obviously, getting help before the situation at home reaches crisis-level is best. But even if someone has waited a little “too long” and needs more than a weekly therapy session with their child, those kinds of services are out there.
I’m glad the issue is getting international attention, but awareness of the solutions is the only way to prevent similar stories in the future.