Helping Children Stay Connected
In addition to the loss of not being with their birth family, children who become free for adoption may be separated from their friends, school, and community. It is essential for adoption professionals to intentionally partner with adoptive and birth parents and together plan how to help children stay connected with the relationships that are most important to them. All children need lifelong supportive relationships. Youth and young adults who have been adopted continue to express how relational permanency is vital to them. Prioritizing children's relationships can help them feel proud of who they are and where they come from—and help create a support system they can rely on throughout their life.
Adoption professionals can help parents understand how to incorporate a child’s important relationships into their life. Clear communication is key. The National Training and Development Curriculum offers strategies that adoptive parents can utilize to keep children connected to their birth family, friends, and community:
- Maintain open communication with the child’s birth family based on the child’s best interest
- Keep the child in the same school, church, activities, and community when geography permits.
- Maintain authentic connections to the child’s community and culture by participating with them in relationships and activities in that culture or community, especially when the child is of a different culture than the adoptive parent.
- Ask the child who is important to them and which family members they would like have contact with
- Communicate before visits to agree on the location and time frame and set boundaries when necessary.
- Help the child remember and honor the important events in different family members' lives with cards, phone calls, or visits.
- Include family members in special occasions, school events, and holidays.
- Try to obtain pictures and/or information about the child’s extended family so that it is available for the child.
The resources below provide additional information about how to support children in maintaining their relationships:
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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