Openness in Adoption Our thanks to Sharon Roszia and Carol Bishop for their leadership in the development of this training session. Before we begin, what adoption issues have arisen in your practice since our last class? Learning Objectives Define the concepts of open adoption, confidential, mediated and fully disclosed adoptions. Identify three clinical issues that children in fully disclosed adoptions might experience and demonstrate the development of a treatment plan for a child. List five issues that are specific to the needs of birth fathers in adoption/open adoption arrangements.
List 5 circumstances in open and mediated adoptions that could require clinical intervention and formulate 5 questions to ask of the adoptive kinship network in a variety of situations that require clinical intervention. Learning Objectives Describe 3 clinical skills that a therapist may use to help children integrate their histories and
address the possible cultural differences between the childs adoptive family and birth family. List 3 reasons why a birth parent may close an open adoption and 3 reasons why an adoptive parent may close an open adoption. Describe the difference between search and reunion and identify 3 issues that may arise in connection with search and reunion. Have you had experiences with openness in adoption personally? Have you had experiences in working with adopted children, youth or adult or with birth families or adoptive families around openness in adoption? Based on your personal and professional
experience, what types of continuing relationships might be important to an adopted child/youth following adoption? How have you seen continuing relationships been sustained? Why are continuing relationships important? When might continuing relationships not be appropriate? When we talk about openness in adoption, what words would you use to describe the concept? Descriptions from Roszia and Bishop
Child-focused Inclusive and respectful Unfolds over time Active and dynamic
Trusting Both structural and communication based An attitude of the heart Shrinking and expanding What Openness in Adoption is NOT NOT confidential NOT shared parenthood NOT like an open marriage or an open book NOT about having an open house NOT an answer to all of adoptions losses,
and the ramification of those losses ConfidentialSemi-Open/ Fully Disclosed Adoption Mediated Adoption Adoption Handout Handout #11.1 #11.1 ---- In In your your small small groups, groups, review review
the the pros pros and and cons cons of of each each type type of of adoption adoption developed developed by by the the Child Child Welfare Welfare Information Information
Gateway: Gateway: confidential confidential adoptions, adoptions, mediated mediated adoptions, adoptions, and and open open adoptions. adoptions. After After your your review, review, work work together together on on the
the key key points points about about the the different different options options that that you you would would make make to to prospective prospective adoptive adoptive parents. parents. How
How would would you you educate educate prospective prospective adoptive adoptive parents parents about about the the options options that that are are available? available? Feel Feel free free to
to disagree disagree with with some some of of listed listed pros pros and and cons! cons! Report Out Adoption should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a discrete event. Here are some factors associated with
increased openness: The birth and adoptive parents' mutual concern for the child's well being. An emergence of friendship or a personally satisfying relationship between the birth and adoptive parents. Regular flow of communication between the birth and adoptive families. Adoption should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a discrete event. Here are some factors associated with decreased openness: Parties living far away from each other. Major differences in life situations, interests, or values. Relatives or friends who discourage contact.
Change in a birth mother's situation such as marriage or the birth of another child. Inability to negotiate a mutually agreed upon comfort zone of contact. Adoptive parents feeling that contact is becoming stressful for the child. Inability of agency intermediaries to keep up contact to everyone's satisfaction. The Concept of Adoptive Kinship Network Handout Handout #11.2 #11.2 Openness Openness in in Adoption
Adoption Pre-test/Post-test Pre-test/Post-test Quiz Quiz You You completed completed this this quiz quiz and and now now have have your your Pre-Test Pre-Test answers. answers. At
At the the end end of of the the day, day, you you will will use use this this same same form form and and fill fill in in the the PostPostTest
Test line line and and see see ifif your your answers answers have have changed. changed. Key Principles: Openness in Adoption Handout Handout #11.3 #11.3 Current Current adoption
adoption practice practice favors favors openness openness in in adoption, adoption, in in contrast contrast to to practice practice in in the the past past that that favored favored closed/confidential
closed/confidential adoptions. adoptions. Handout Handout #11.3 #11.3 provides provides some some of of the the key key principles principles on on which which current current practice practice around around
openness openness in in adoption adoption is is based. based. Lets Lets look look at at each each of of these. these. Key Principles: Openness in Adoption The importance of honoring the childs
beginning and past Honesty Increased self-esteem Childrens lives do not begin the day they are adopted. Open adoption allows for fresh information to be integrated into the childs understanding of themselves in an appropriate developmental phase. Key Principles: Openness in Adoption
An open adoption allows for sibling connections over time, which offers the child the opportunity to see him or herself reflected in another human being, through interests, humor, skills and temperament. The importance of having ongoing medical and familial information that allows for the childs realistic creation of their future. Accepting reality Optimizing learning Key Principles: Openness in Adoption
Diminishing anxiety and opening communication for the child about what it is safe to communicate to their parents Support and deepen family attachments The belief in what is best for the child over time, not what is convenient for the adult. Adults shouldering the burdens that adoption can create for a child.
Handout Handout #11.4 #11.4 --- Divide Divide into into small small groups. groups. II will will assign assign each each group group aa different different age age group: group: Infants, Infants, Pre-schoolers,
Pre-schoolers, School School age age children children and and Adolescents. Adolescents. Develop Develop at at least least 55 ways ways that that the the listed listed childrens childrens rights rights apply
apply to to the the age age group group that that they they have have been been assigned. assigned. Report Out Research on Openness in Adoption
The Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project, the only longitudinal study to compare open adoption to other types of adoption. More detailed information about this research can be found at: http://www.psych.umass.edu/adoption/ Research on Openness in Adoption Many fears regarding open adoption are based on myths. Parties in open (fully disclosed) adoptions are NOT confused about their parenting rights and responsibilities. Birth mothers do NOT attempt to "reclaim" their children.
Children in open (fully disclosed) adoptions are NOT confused about who their parents are. They do understand the different roles of adoptive and birth parents in their lives. Research on Openness in Adoption Differences in adolescent adoptive identity or degree of preoccupation with adoption are NOT related to the level of openness in the adoption. Adoptive openness does NOT appear to influence an adopted person's self-esteem in any negative way. Adoptive parents in open adoptions do NOT feel less in control and, indeed, have a greater sense of permanence in their relationship with
their child. Research on Openness in Adoption Open adoption does NOT interfere with adoptive parents' sense of entitlement or sense that they have the right to parent their adopted child. Birth mothers in open and ongoing mediated adoptions do NOT have more problems with grief resolution; indeed, they show better grief resolution than those in closed adoptions. Researchers did find that birth mothers in timelimited mediated adoptions (where contact stopped) had more difficulty resolving grief at the first interview of the study (when the children were between 4 and 12 years old).
Research on Openness in Adoption What about children in foster care who already know their birth families? No systematic research Increased use of openness in adoption as a result of: Concurrent planning Dual licensure Research on Openness in Adoption The Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project, the only longitudinal study to compare open adoption to other types of adoption. More detailed information about
this research can be found at: http://www.psych.umass.edu/adoption/ Small Group Work In your small groups, discuss the circumstances when openness in adoption would not be in the best interests of a child in foster care. Report Out Handout Handout #11.5 #11.5 --- Return Return to to your
your small small groups groups and and consider consider the the scenarios scenarios on on Handout Handout #11.5. #11.5. How How would would you you advise advise the the
adoptive adoptive family family and/or and/or the the child child welfare welfare agency agency about about openness openness in in adoption? adoption? Report Out Openness in Adoption: The
Law What did you learn about the various legal approaches to openness in adoption? Openness in Adoption: The Law In general, state law does not prohibit postadoption contact or communication. A written contractual agreement between the
parties to an adoption can clarify the type and frequency of the contact or communication and can provide a way for the agreement to be legally enforced. These agreements specify the type and frequency of contact and are signed by the parties to an adoption prior to finalization. Openness in Adoption: The Law Modes of contact can range from an exchange of information about the child between adoptive and birth parents to the exchange of cards, letters, and photos to personal visits with the child by birth family members.
The phrase parties to an adoption generally refers to the birth parents (or other person placing the child for adoption) and the adoptive parents; it may include the adopted child under the laws of some States. For the agreements to be enforceable, they must be approved by the court that has jurisdiction over the adoption. Disputes over compliance and requests for modification of the terms also must be brought before the court.
Handout Handout #11.6 #11.6 --- Handout Handout #11.6, #11.6, which which you you downloaded downloaded from from the the C.A.S.E. C.A.S.E. website, website, provides provides you you with with two
two examples examples of of post post adoption adoption contact contact agreement agreement that that are are used used in in California. California. What What are are your
your thoughts thoughts on on these these agreements? agreements? Other Areas Where Research is Needed
What is the ongoing impact of open adoption on older children who remember their birth families? Is it ethical to use promises of ongoing future contact with their children as an incentive for birth parents to relinquish parental rights? How do adopted persons develop identity in open adoptions in a variety of social contexts? (MTARP examined a fairly homogenous sample of middle class adopters of children from the United States. How might results differ with different ethnic groups or children adopted internationally?) Clinical Issues in Open Adoption Small Group Work Handout
Handout #11.7 #11.7 --- Review Review together together the the clinical clinical issues issues that that can can impact impact adoptive adoptive parents, parents, children children and and birth birth parents
parents in in closed closed or or confidential confidential adoptions. adoptions. Which Which of of these these clinical clinical issues issues have have you you seen seen in in your your
work work with with families families with with closed/confidential closed/confidential adoptions? adoptions? Are Are there there clinical clinical issues issues on on the the list list that that are are new
new to to you you as as you you consider consider the the impact impact on on adoptive adoptive parents, parents, adopted adopted children/youth children/youth and and birth birth parents?
parents? Report Out Small Group Work Handout Handout #11.8 #11.8 --- Return Returnto toyour yoursmall smallgroups groupsand andreview review together togetherthe
theclinical clinicalissues issues that thatcan canimpact impactadoptive adoptive parents, parents,children childrenand andbirth birthparents parentsin inmediated mediatedadoptions adoptions as
aslisted listedon onHandout Handout#11.8. #11.8. As Asyou youjust justdid didwith with closed/confidential closed/confidentialadoptions, adoptions,talk talkabout aboutthe theclinical clinicalissues
issues that thathave haveyou youseen seenin inyour yourwork workwith withfamilies familieswith with mediated mediatedadoptions. adoptions. Are Arethere thereclinical
clinicalissues issueson onthe thelist list that thatare arenew newto toyou youas asyou youconsider considerthe theimpact impacton on
adoptive adoptiveparents, parents,adopted adoptedchildren/youth children/youthand andbirth birth parents? parents? Report Out Clinical Issues in Fully Disclosed Adoption
All members of the adoption kinship network experience short term pain for long term gain: adoptive parents more directly feel the birth parents acute pain and must allow for their joy and growing attachment to evolve simultaneously. The other children in both the adoptive and birth families also will need appropriate support and explanations about their expanded family and guidance in navigating the complex sibling relationships that can be a part of their expanding family network. Clinical Issues in Fully Disclosed Adoption Before trust is established, all the parties may have fear that one could do harm to the other,
either emotionally or physically. The ongoing experience of people moving away or diminishing contact over time as well as new family members joining the network. The adoptive family feeling like they owe so much to the birth family that they dont know how to set appropriate boundaries, and may feel guilty that they ought to be doing more. Clinical Issues in Fully Disclosed Adoption
The birth parents who may demand more than what is appropriate as they deal with the grief of letting go of their child and the emptiness that separation creates. The birth parents ambivalence about placement can be fueled by continued contact with the child and the reminder of the pain of separation. A differing of opinion about which members of the extended families can participate in the open adoption; for instance, occasionally a birth mother may not want the birth father to be a party to the open adoption relationship.
Clinical Issues in Fully Disclosed Adoption The instantaneous intimacy that is created in a pregnancy and birthing experience may trigger underlying sexual issues and discomfort for the parties involved. The complex assignment of roles with gay couples when two women must now include another woman in their relationship who has significant meaning to their child or two men who might find it awkward to accept the birth father as a part of the extension of their family. Clinical Issues in Fully Disclosed Adoption
The common pressure that either community members or extended family place on the decision makers within the adoption kinship network. The complexity of creating additional adoptions that may evolve differently with additional birth family networks. The possibility of relationships evolving between different birth families who have placed their children into the same adoptive family, that are either positive or supportive relationships, or more destructive.
Specific Clinical Issues for Children in a Fully Disclosed Adoption Handout Handout #11.9 #11.9 --- Return Return to to your your small small groups groups and and look look at at the the case
case example example in in Handout Handout #11.9: #11.9: Clinical Clinical Issues Issues for for Children Children in in aa Fully Fully Disclosed Disclosed Adoption. Adoption. Read Read the the case
case together together and and discuss discuss the the questions. questions. Report Out An excellent resource is Childhood Years: Ages Six through Twelve at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/pdfs/fcs4 65.pdf Birth Fathers and Openness in Adoption
What words come to mind when you think of birth fathers? Small Group Work Handout Handout #11.10 #11.10 --- Return Return to to your your small small groups groups and and look look at at the
the case case example example in in Handout Handout #11.10. #11.10. Discuss Discuss the the questions questions and and be be ready ready to to report report to to the
the larger larger group. group. Report Out Birthfather Issues and Needs Distinct issues than those impacting birth mothers Biological fatherhood and social fatherhood Birthfather Issues and Needs Handout Handout #11.11 #11.11 --- Return
Return to to your your small small groups groups and and reviews reviews the the quotes quotes from from birth birth fathers fathers on on Handout Handout #11.11. #11.11. Be
Be prepared prepared to to share share your your reactions reactions to to these these quotes quotes with with the the larger larger group. group. Birthfather Issues and Needs
Report Out Quotes about Birth Fathers from Adoptive Parents He was involved in choosing us, so we felt an immediate connection to him. We were so lucky he wanted to stay involved in our lives. He and our son Devin have a relationship thats very special and unique. Andrew writes to him and visits. The friendship they have answers Devins questions. It helps him understand himself. Theyre pals. As Devin grows, he looks more and more like Andrew. The relationship gives Devin a connection to his origins This has been so
valuable for all of us. Weve benefited and been enriched so much. Quotes about Birth Fathers from Adoptive Parents Ariel (our daughter) has never had to worry that her birthfather doesnt love and care about her. His love has been demonstrated over and over again. Its not enough to just love a child, you have to be there to show them you love them My daughters birthfather is like a close uncle to her and a son-in-law to me. Quotes about Birth Fathers from
Adoptive Parents It takes two people to make a child. If one person is not in the picture later on, theres a part missing. Cody (birthfather) completes the picture. We are all so fortunate that Cody has stepped up to the plate to be a part of Mitchs life. Cody is a part of who Mitch is. Without him thered always be a gap for Mitch Mitch is closer to his birthfather than his birthmother. They have a physical connection. Theyre always wrestling or tickling each other. Mitch likes to grab Codys baseball cap so Cody will chase him to get it back. Quotes about Birth Fathers from
Adoptive Parents Garrett (birthfather) has a strong sense of responsibility to his relationship with Fin (our son). Garrett is very clear about wanting Fin to know how much he cares about him (and our whole family). Even when Garrett was out of the country for two years, he sent Fin numerous postcards and gifts. Fin will always have those to look through and again see how much his birthfather was thinking about him Its so valuable to the child to really have the knowledge that his birthparents love him. The best way for a child to experience this is through a relationship with the birthparent. Its a pretty amazing gift to a child if his birthfather can stick it out and stick around in his childs life, even when its scary.
Birth Fathers and Openness in Adoption What are your thoughts about these quotes from adoptive parents about birth fathers? Research on Birth Fathers Research with birthfathers has been limited Some of the emerging findings about the experiences of birth father who do not have the benefit of open adoptions: The time of the pregnancy and birth was an extraordinary and impactful life event. Most of the men were left with a substantial sense of loss. There is evidence of a constellation of feelings and
behaviors that indicate the development of a sense of fatherhood. Having had a sense of control and choice feeds healing. Research on Birth Fathers Other people played a significant role during the process such as both sets of parents and social workers. Birth fathers were routinely marginalized throughout the process, their distress defrayed or denied, and they were often told to get on with your life. Mary Martin Mason, in her book Out of the Shadows, quotes one birth father as stating, I felt I lost
membership in the human race by giving away my own flesh and bloodThe natural order of events was disturbed. It becomes fatherhood interrupted. The first year after the adoption was an emotionally laden time period. Research on Birth Fathers Some birth parents separate after the adoption and some remain together. There seems to be a high rate of relationship breakdown following the adoption and for a time thereafter. Birth Fathers and Openness in Adoption
Lets return to the list of words we wrote down in describing birth fathers. Do you have any changes, additions or edits to the list? A Movie Lets view Jean Strauss video entitled Holding Hands. This ten minute short film examines how siblings are separated for life through adoption, divorce, and foster care and questions why this is supposed to be in their best interest. Siblings
What are your thoughts about sibling relationships and continuing connections among siblings? Handout Handout #11.12 #11.12 --- In In your your small small groups, groups, read read the the excerpt excerpt from from an an article
article on on openness openness in in adoption adoption and and siblings, siblings, When When Your Your Child Child Has Has Birth Birth Siblings, Siblings, by by Lois Lois Melina.
Melina. In In this this excerpt, excerpt, Lois Lois talks talks about about several several issues issues that that can can impact impact aa child child who who is is
adopted adopted without without his/her his/her birth birth siblings. siblings. Discuss Discuss possible possible clinical clinical implications implications of of the the issues issues that that she she raises
raises in in this this excerpt. excerpt. Siblings Report Out If you would like to read the entire article by Lois Melina, go to: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.ph p?aid=515 The Adoption Kinship Network and Therapeutic
Assessment Guiding Principles for the Adoption Kinship Network in Fully Disclosed Adoptions Therapeutic Assessment Handout Handout # # 11.13 11.13 Examples Examples of of Presenting Presenting Situations Situations That
That Would Would Bring Bring Referrals Referrals to to the the Therapist Therapist Handout Handout #11.13 #11.13 provides provides examples examples of of presenting presenting situations
situations that that would would bring bring referrals referrals to to the the therapist. therapist. Lets Lets look look at at these these together together briefly: briefly: Discussion in Pairs
With a partner, select one of the examples from the list on Handout #11.13. Develop together at least 5 questions that you would want to ask to better understand how openness might be impacting the familys or individuals current situation/concerns. Report Out Integrating Childrens Histories Integrating Childrens Histories Childrens ability to integrate their histories is less complex when they have access to the individuals who can directly impart
information. However, even in the most open of adoptions, it is important for adoptive families, due to health, death or relationship breakdowns, to be gathering information as the child grows because people can become unavailable over time Integrating Childrens Histories Handout Handout #11.14 #11.14 --- In In your your small small groups, groups, review
review together together the the list list of of clinical clinical strategies strategies that that you you can can use use to to help help adoptive adoptive families, families, birth
birth families families and and adopted adopted children children and and youth youth integrate integrate their their histories histories and and experiences. experiences. Then Then select select role
role players players for for the the therapist therapist and and the the adopted adopted youth. youth. The The remaining remaining members members of of your your group group will
will be be observers observers and and will will complete complete the the observer observer form. form. The The case case example example follows follows the the clinical clinical approaches. approaches. Role
Role play play aa discussion discussion between between the the therapist therapist and and the the adoptive adoptive parents parents with with the the observers observers completing completing the the
observer observer form. form. Integrating Childrens Histories Report Out You saw in this case example the use of social media by siblings to find and connect with one another. Social media is becoming if it is not already -- a fact of life and greater attention is being brought to the use of social media in adoption. What issues with respect to openness in adoption does social media present?
Handout Handout #11.15 #11.15 --- Handout Handout #11.15 #11.15 provides provides some some recommendations recommendations for for healthy healthy ongoing ongoing communications communications via via social social media
media among among the the adoption adoption kinship kinship network. network. The The full full article article contains contains aa range range of of recommendations. recommendations. This This excerpt
excerpt includes includes recommendations recommendations for for parents parents of of older older adoptees adoptees and and for for all all parties parties involved involved in in adoption.
adoption. The The website website address address is is included included ifif you you would would like like to to read read the the entire entire article. article. Please Please read
read this this handout handout on on your your own. own. The Openness in Adoption Relationship Additional Issues 1. Helping adoptive parents move forward with openness in adoption Handout #11.16 Ideas for Families Coming Together to Form a
Relationship: Making a Plan Handout #11.16 provides a list of ideas to support adoptive and birth families in coming together to form a relationship. Please review these ideas on your own. Additional Issues 2. Supporting openness in adoption over time Open Adoptions Become Closed Open Adoption Become Closed
What might be some reasons that a birth parent may choose to close an open adoption? Open Adoption Become Closed What might be some reasons that an adoptive parent may choose to close an open adoption? Open Adoption Becomes Closed It is important to recognize that even when one of these issues is present, one has to consider whether the family will be closing the adoption forever or until things change.
Some steps that therapists can take Search and Reunion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL7van7VHoo (4.56 minutes) In this video, Melissa describes why she chose to search for her Korean birth parents. Search and Reunion Search and reunion is about opening closed adoptions. There is a difference between search and reunion. Search involves gathering of information, and reunion is
about building relationships. Korean Adoptee Awaiting Reunion with Her Birth Parents http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL7van7VHoo Search and Reunion What are your thoughts about what Melissa says at the beginning of the video? What are your thoughts about her decision to search for her birth parents? Search and Reunion Not everyone has a need to do a search and/or have a reunion
The most common form of search and reunion today is one sibling searching for another The person initiates the search and/or reunion controls its pace and evolution Search and Reunion Handout Handout #11.16 #11.16 --- Return Return to to your your small small groups groups for
for aa role role play. play. Have Have aa different different member member of of your your group group volunteer volunteer to to play play the the therapist therapist and and aa new
new role role player player to to play play the the role role of of Tamara, Tamara, aa 20 20 year year old old adoptee adoptee who who is is considering
considering starting starting aa search. search. Other Other members members of of the the group group will will be be observers observers and and complete complete the the observer observer forms.
forms. Search and Reunion Report Out Search and Reunion The Impact of the Search and Reunion Process Search and Reunion Handout Handout #11.18 #11.18 provides provides aa number number of
of resources resources regarding regarding search search and and reunion. reunion. Please Please review review on on your your own. own. Summary and Closing Handout
Handout #11.19 #11.19 --- Lets Lets check check our our beliefs beliefs about about Open Open Adoption Adoption by by returning returning to to the the quiz quiz that that you
you completed completed before before the the session session today today (Handout (Handout #11.2). #11.2). Please Please use use the the Post-test Post-test line line to to record record your
your answers. answers. Handout Handout #11.19 #11.19 provides provides the the correct correct answers answers for for you! you! What Have You Learned Today? Can you: Define the concepts of open adoption, confidential, mediated and fully disclosed
adoptions. Demonstrate effective responses to (a) an adoptive parent with concerns about adoption; and (b) a birth mother with concerns about open adoption. Identify three clinical issues that children in fully disclosed adoptions might experience and demonstrate the development of a treatment plan for a child. What Have You Learned Today?: Can you:
List five issues that are specific to the needs of birth fathers in adoption/open adoption arrangements. List 5 circumstances in open and mediated adoptions that could require clinical intervention and will be able to formulate 5 questions to ask of the adoptive kinship network in a variety of situations that require clinical intervention. Describes 3 clinical skills that a therapist may use to help children integrate their histories and address the possible cultural differences between the childs adoptive family and birth family. What Have You Learned Today?: Can you:
List 3 reasons why a birth parent may close an open adoption and 3 reasons why an adoptive parent may close an open adoption. Describe the difference between search and reunion and identify 3 issues that may arise in connection with search and reunion. The Brief Online Survey Our Next Session . . . Race and Ethnicity in Adoption