Let’s face it, the adoption journey can be hard! Really hard. It can be stressful, confusing, frustrating, and expensive. During this process, you have family and friends rallying around you, other adoptive parents encouraging you, and your adoption agency staff supporting you. Their help and guidance make the difference. Then, your precious child comes home. Relief. Joy. Happiness. Calm. You think the journey is over. Unfortunately, it is just beginning in most cases.
Now, your job is to build a cohesive family, help an orphan learn to love, integrate him into a new culture, help him learn a new language, use trial and error to help him adjust to new foods, teach him how to make new friends, and (the big one) work with him to resolve his past trauma. Yes, it’s a big job! Some days, it is too big for just you to navigate. You’re back to that stressful, confusing and frustrating life. But where is all of your support?
It’s hard to admit to yourself and others, even if they are friends and family, that you don’t feel successful or that you need help. After all, you chose to adopt, right? If you contact other adoptive families, will you feel “less than” a parent in their eyes? If you call your adoption agency, will they have time for you? So many questions, so many thoughts… what can you do now?
There’s an old saying “No man is an island.” This is so true with adoptive families. Rich or poor, highly educated or not, first time or fifth time parent, this race of that, rural or urban, religious or secular- it just doesn’t matter. Every international adoptive family can benefit from some form of Post Adoption Services. Truth! Thousands of adoptive families seek some type of support every day. You are not alone!
What are Post Adoption Services? These are services, support and assistance for families who are trying to help an adopted child heal from past trauma while working to successfully form a cohesive family unit. Yes, it involves your WHOLE family. Not only might you have a child who has experienced direct trauma in his past, but you may also have family members, perhaps even yourself, who are experiencing vicarious trauma, or secondary trauma, due to the stress of hearing about it and dealing with it on a consistent basis. Everyone in the family may be able to benefit from some type of supportive service.
Our states have all received federal funding to assist adoptive families with the challenges of post-adoptive behaviors and emotions. Consequently, states have all developed some type of services to help families and many of these are free. However, each state has the ability to choose how to appropriate these funds, so services and availability can vary with each state. Click here for a state-by-state listing of who to contact for Post Adoption Services in your state.
Post Adoption Services, whether through the state or individual service providers, can include many forms. Thus, you have the opportunity to “layer on” and choose what your individual family needs. Examples of some Post Adoption Services offered are: case management, family and individual therapy/counseling, parent and/or youth support groups, respite care, education, advocacy, mentor families, family coaches, medication management, summer camps, crisis stabilization and care, intervention services, residential care, day treatment, hospitalization, tutoring, wraparound services, special education advocacy, information and referral, and adaptive equipment. Every family is different; your needs are not going to mirror those of your neighbor. Choose what is best for your family.
Additionally, seek out resources and recommendations from your adoption service providers, International Adoption Clinics, pediatricians, churches, other adoptive families, school and special needs administrators, the mental health community, your State Department of Children and Family Services, Early Intervention Services, hospitals, or special diagnosis national agencies. Sometimes, your insurance agency may even be able to recommend services for you.
The important piece of Post Adoption Services is YOU! You need to make that first call. Assure yourself that it is OK to seek help. There is no shame in doing so, and there is hope for you and your family. The adoption journey is hard and, as another old saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Let Post Adoption Services be the village you need.