ADOPTIVE PARENT PREPARATION PROJECT PHASE I: MEETING THE MENTAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS OF ADOPTED CHILDREN
Author: David Brodzinksy
Published: 2008 February. New York NY: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
Document Type: Policy Brief (18 pages)
Changes in the institution of
adoption over the past few decades have resulted in many questions
about the best way to prepare and support adoptive parents for the task
of raising their children. Historically, many parents who adopted
children were given little, if any, information about their children’s
origins or about adoption in general. Yet, without adequate
information, the chances for developing appropriate expectations about
adoption, or for understanding the best ways of managing the challenges
that can be associated with adoptive family life, are lessened. This is
especially true for adoptions from the child welfare system and from
other countries, where there is significant risk of medical and/or
It is widely accepted among
adoption professionals today that parental preparation, education and
support is crucial for the stability of an adoption and for the
long-term emotional well-being of all family members. Nevertheless,
there is a high degree of variability in the types and extent of
preparation and education offered by agencies, attorneys, and others
who facilitate adoption placements. Some of these organizations and
individuals offer extensive services, both during the pre-adoption and
post-adoption periods; however, others offer little to adoptive parents
in these areas.
This paper, which represents the first phase of the Evan B. Donaldson
Adoption Institute’s Adoptive Parent Preparation Project, outlines the
basic principles, key issues, methods, and content areas forming
best-practice standards regarding the preparation and education of
adoptive parents. This phase focuses on preparing adoptive parents to
better understand and manage the mental health, developmental, and
parenting issues about which all adoptive parents should be educated,
as well as those issues more relevant to specific types of adoptions.
The information in this paper should be viewed as a roadmap for the
development of specific curricula for professionals to use in preparing
and educating adoptive parents in a wide range of content areas.
For the full report, click here
I am biased, but I would add that all prospective parents should be given information about FASD. When I adopted from the state of Washington, fetal alcohol was a bullet statement among many possible issues an adoptive parent might face. Prior to adopting my daughter, I received a redacted copy of her DCFS record and a health report. There was no mention of prenatal exposure to alcohol. My daughter lived with me for 5-years before I was able to get a diagnosis.
I am adopting again now. In our three day preparation class, there was not any mention of FASD. Yet, the agency has a program placing kids from Russia. The rate of FAS in Russia is 8X the worldwide incidence. When a child is adopted internationally, the adoptive parents often do not know the prenatal history and are blind-sided by the child’s behavioral challenges. And, the child cannot get a diagnosis, a diagnosis that would possibly open the door to services.
I thought the Child Welfare League of America had a widely used program called PRIDE (for foster parents and adoptive parents). There is an extensive section on international adoption according to friends who have had to take the program prior to adopting. It includes a number of issues that you have raised here. I was wondering if you’ve seen it and what you think of it? I haven’t heard of any other formal programs so the one you describe in this post is new to me. Thanks for the information. Pink