Powerpoint adoption disruption


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Factors in adoption breakdown.

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Powerpoint adoption disruption

  1. 1. Created and presented by Brenda McCreight Ph.D.
  2. 2. Big hopes….  We all begin a new adoptive placement with high hopes that a “forever” family has been created. Yet, about 15% to 25% of adoptive families find their dreams are shattered as they realize that despite everyone’s best efforts, the adoption isn’t going to work.
  3. 3.  An adoption break down is heartbreaking for all involved - the social workers who placed the child, the therapist who tried to resolve the issues with the family, the parents who thought they were up to the task of parenting this child or youth, and most of all, for the child or youth who is once again embraced by rejection and loss.  Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  4. 4. FACTORS IN ADOPTION DISRUPTION  Adoptive parent factors:  The adoptive parents were undertrained and unprepared for the behavioural challenges presented by the child.  The adoptive parents had a weak or non-existent support system.  The adoptive parents were not equally parenting the child or were not equally committed to the child.  The child’s history of trauma too closely matches the parent’s trauma history  The adoptive parents have unrealistic expectations of how the child should behave or how quickly they would feel like a ‘real’ family  Unresolved grief or depression in the parent’s own lives  Too many other challenges ie aging parents, unemployment, other acting out children  The rules were inflexible and the family was too rule bound  The parents thought that only the child/youth had to change  The parents became overwhelmed by unexpected needs of the child and could not access services  The parents had stated in the home study that they could not manage a child with the behaviours that their child is now presenting
  5. 5. CHILD FACTORS  The child was under-prepared for the adoption  The child exhibited chronic lying and stealing and unrelenting oppositional behaviours that overwhelmed the family  The child had suicidal ideation or suicide attempts or was presenting other forms of self injurious behaviours that overwhelmed the family  The child had divided loyalties to either the birth family or the foster family prevent attachment  Sexual acting out or physical violence by the child  The child has unresolved or unidentified grief or untreated depression that prevents attachment  The child had previously undiagnosed conditions such FASD or schizophrenia that the parents had clearly stated in the home study that they could not manage  Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  6. 6. System Factors  The system did not provide appropriate and effective support/counselling  The system did not provide appropriate and effective support long enough  The system did not accurately assess the extent of the child’s needs prior to placement  The system did not protect the adoptive family from placement sabotage by the birth family or the foster family  The system did not accurately know the extent of the parent’s capacities and limitations prior to placement  Brenda McCreight workshop series
  7. 7. Pre-breakdown check list  Have all possible/interventions/supports/resources been utilized or offered? Were all of these adoption specialized?  Has there been a team consult?  Has there been a consultation with a neutral expert  Have other resources available to the adoption worker been utilized?  Has adequate and regular respite been offered and utilized?
  8. 8.  Has the family been adequately educated about the needs and abilities of the child? Can that be provided now?  Can the family come out of crisis mode?  Have marital issues been addressed?  Have sibling issues been addressed?  Have the adoptive parents and the child been assessed for depression?
  9. 9.  Is policy interfering with potential for sustaining the family in the long run?  What is the attitude of the professionals involved? Are they contributing to the breakdown?
  10. 10. After Care  Everyone involved has to find a way to get on with their lives after an adoption breakdown.  Grief, self blame, guilt, other blame, are all common and can lead to anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and other secondary problems.
  11. 11.  Often the decision to disrupt follows a long process in which many attempts have been made to help the family succeed.  By the time the decision is made to end the placement, the parents, the child, and the adoption workers, are generally feeling a range of emotions such as: • anger • depression • loss • grief • frustration • hopelessness • despair • self loathing
  12. 12.  All of these need to be addressed and while they won’t necessarily be resolved, they can be at least be reduced so that the people involved can move on with their lives in way that allows for eventual healing.
  13. 13. Strategies for the child  Let the child determine what kind of contact he wants to have with the adoptive family and balance that with what is reasonable and safe.  The social worker has to stay in charge of this, but the decisions about post disruption contact should be based on the child’s expressed wishes whenever reasonable and possible.  The worker should take full responsibility “I made a mistake and picked the wrong family for you”
  14. 14.  Acknowledge the child’s feelings, and equally important for the adults in the situation not to project their own feelings on the child.  For example, one therapist told a child how angry she was at the adoptive parents for not working harder to keep him. My question was whether the child was ready to deal with yet another adult’s feelings about his life. Its fine to let the child know the adults care and they are disappointed with the outcome, but it’s not okay to put the child in a position of thinking he has to appear unscathed so that the social worker and foster parents and therapists don’t feel badly.  Teach the child the words that are associated with this experience. Words such as disruption, attachment, loss, break down, and dissolution become tools the child can use to understand that this happens to other kids too. The worker can use these words to help the child re-frame the experiencing the breakdown as a failure to experiencing it as a transition.
  15. 15.  Help the child understand that this isn’t the end of his adoption planning. In fact, the child should understand that this was a process in his life that has provided new information on what the adoption worker can look for in the next family.  One couple that I know has adopted five children from disrupted placements. Two of the children were in their previous adoptive families for several years before the adoption broke down. All five of these children have done very well in this family. There are many reasons for the success but one common thread is that issues were addressed early on and the children were given hope that the ‘right’ family would be found for them.
  16. 16. Adoption worker healing  An adoption breakdown has a huge impact on adoption workers.  Many feel they have failed the child and so are afraid to place him with yet another family.  Others become hesitant to do home studies because they feel they must have missed something significant.  Many workers start to succumb to stress and depression and they isolate themselves from their team.  Some even leave the profession.  It’s important that the workers and the therapists involved find support for themselves and deal with whatever issues they have so that they can continue to be involved with finding the child a new family. After all, the child has already lost his hoped for family, he doesn’t need to lose his professional care team as well.
  17. 17.  The worker needs to consult with others to assess what went wrong, what went right, and possible alternatives that may have been useful in the process  The worker should monitor him/her self for depression  The worker should take some updated training to re- energize  The worker should access and use support
  18. 18. Adoptive parents healing  The adoptive parents, while often blamed and even shunned by the professionals, are usually devastated and they require and deserve support.  The parents need an opportunity to express the loss, the anger, and the general trauma that they experienced and to find ways to learn from the disruption.  They may be facing marital strain as a result of the break down or they may have work related problems as they take time off and find it hard to concentrate or to face people.  They also need help dealing with the other children who are still in the home and who will have their own complex feelings to resolve.  Maintaining open and non-judgmental communication with the adoptive parents will help them understand that they can contribute crucial information that can help make the child’s next placement successful  Brenda McCreight Ph.D. workshop series
  19. 19. Sibling healing  There are often other children in the home who will remain with the family.  They will experience the same confusion of feelings – self blame, other blame, depression, fear etc that everyone else is feeling. Get them help and support to acknowledge how this has impacted their lives.
  20. 20.  An adoption disruption is, for some children, part of the process that will lead them to the adoptive family that is the right match for them.  It is not the end of the line for the child. Most children can go on to be successfully placed in a “forever family” as long as the workers and therapists involved continue to have faith in the process and believe in the child’s right to permanence.
  21. 21. Brenda’s books at Amazon.com Parenting Your Adopted Older Child Family Matters: How To Strengthen Your Family Without Paying For Therapy or Changing Your Lives
  22. 22.  Help – I’ve Been Adopted  Healing From Hazardous Parenting: How To Fix Yourself When You Can’t Fix Your Kid
  23. 23. Thank you for sharing this time with me  You can check out other services and products at these sites:  http://www.lifespanmediation.org  http://www.theadoptioncounselor.com  http://www.hazardousparenting.com  The Hazardous Parenting facebook site  Udemy.com (search under Brenda McCreight)  Slideshare.com (search under Brenda McCreight)  Amazon.com (search under Brenda McCreight)  brendamccreight@gmail.com  Brenda provides counselling and parent coaching worldwide via skype, telephone, and email – please contact her by email if you would like to book an appointment. 250-716-9101 or brenda@lifespanmediation.org