November is National Adoption Month! This month, we want to take the time to shed light on the importance of post adoption services. Adoption is a lifelong process. In order to build strong, permanent families, post adoption services and support‒which continue to serve adoptive families long after the adoption is complete‒are crucial for a successful adoption and a great source of comfort for families who are considering adoption.
Oftentimes, adopted children experience:
- Trust and attachment issues
- Identity formation problems
- Developmental delays
- School difficulties
Children may experience these issues for years to come after getting adopted. Post adoption services meet the unique individual needs of each child and family, from advocacy to respite.
Below we outline the issues adoptive families may face and provide insight into what our post adoption services entail.
Issues Adoptive Youth and their Adoptive Families Often Face
Loss & Grief
Adopted children usually experience loss and grief in many different ways. Even though you brought a child into a loving and safe home, life as they know it will never be the same. They may lose their perceived sense of normalcy, and this transition can be very difficult to understand. Even though you know the child is in a better situation now, he or she may find it difficult to appreciate the new change.
Adopted children may also experience grief by suffering the loss of their birth parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family. Older children who get adopted later in life may grieve the loss of their foster families, friends, schools and neighborhoods.
As you learn to better understand your child, you can help him or her avoid situations that might be triggering.
Trust & Attachment
Attachment disorder occurs when a child doesn’t develop a healthy sense of trusting others. When this happens, children will tell themselves that there is no one else they can depend on other than themselves.
It is very important to research, talk to other families who have adopted, get professional advice, build a support network for yourself, and enlist family and friends to be supportive of strategies that work best for your family’s situation.
Two of the biggest factors that play a role in identity formation are genetics and family dynamics. Identity formation is very complicated for adopted children.
Adopted children with limited information about their birth families may have a less complete sense of self. Identity issues may be further complicated if the child’s heritage differs from their adopted family’s.
Every child in foster care is exposed to trauma in some way or another, but some children in foster care experience more than one form of trauma. Trauma can stem from neglect, domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse and other sources of adverse experiences in early childhood.
It will take time, patience and often counseling to overcome the effects of trauma.
Typical Post Adoption Services
Generally organized by parent volunteers, adoptive parent support groups bring together tenured and brand new adoptive parents to share experiences, successes and hardships in a non-judgemental environment.
Trauma is best addressed and overcome through professional therapy. Therapy can include:
- Guidance on children’s attachment, trust, emotional and behavioral issues
- Help in working through these issues as well as working through the impact of adoption on the family, marriage or partnerships
- Healing from traumatic experiences of abuse or neglect
- Counseling to address parent-child conflicts
As you understand your child’s behavior, you can identify strategies to meet your child’s needs and allow healing to begin. Timely intervention by a professional counselor can often stop more serious problems from developing down the road.
At some point, parents will need time for themselves. Respite offers families a temporary break by a trained professional to allow for rest and renewal. Respite helps families from becoming overwhelmed by their many ongoing responsibilities.
Children’s Home Society of Virginia Post Adoption Program
No matter how long ago you adopted, the Children’s Home Society of Virginia is here to help.
Our Post Adoption Program has recently entered into a new consortium model in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Social Services and other service providers in the state, which now efficiently and comprehensively serves all of Central and Northern Virginia’s adoptive families. Some of our offerings have changed and been renamed. But whether you live in Central or Northern Virginia, you can be confident that we will continue to provide the same, free levels of high quality, evidence-based, trauma-informed services as before.
The CHS Post Adoption Program provides these post adoption services at no cost to adoptive families:
- Basic Services: Basic services are general services available to you after an adoption is finalized. Basic services are foundational services that all families are likely to need at some point in their adoption. They include:
- Information and/or referrals
- Education, training, support, and advocacy for adoptive parents and youth, staff, and the larger community
- Level I case management
- Enhanced Services: Enhanced services are services that not all families will need but are known to be important for adoption stability. They include:
- Peer support
- Assistance with birth family contact
- Level II case management
- Intensive Services: Crisis support is a service that is critically important to preserving adoptive families.
We are proud to say that in 2019, 100% of families reported improved family dynamics as a direct result of CHS services.
To learn even more about our post-adoption services, click here, or please call us at 804-353-0191.