Keys to Successful Adoptions: Preparing Families and Children Throughout the Transition
Preparation is key to all success in life, and adoption is no different. Child welfare professionals play a critical role in supporting families through the transition from foster care to adoption. In doing so, it is important to communicate that adoption is a lifelong emotional and legal commitment to unconditionally love and care for an adopted child(ren), while foster care is intended to operate as a support system for the family until permanency is achieved.
Caseworkers can promote quality relationships with families by fostering trust and respect. It is important to have open and genuine conversations concerning the differences between foster care and adoption as well as some of the core issues in adoption such as grief and loss, identity, and rejection. A parent’s understanding of the core issues enables them to better address the complex challenges and feelings their child may experience throughout various stages of development. Professionals can train parents as to how to incorporate this knowledge into parenting. For example, caseworkers can support foster parents in responding to a child's challenging behaviors and emotions in a way that promotes attachment. Secondly, it is important that caseworkers impart practical knowledge to assist foster parents in understanding how separation, loss, and/or trauma can uniquely impact each child’s functioning and behavior. Additionally, caseworkers can teach foster parents how to help children in their healing process for grief and loss. Most importantly, professionals can help prospective adoptive parents and children facilitate continued connections with birth families and loved ones.
For more practical steps in helping families transition, below are important tasks professionals can address with prospective adoptive families:
- Helping children prepare for the transition from foster care to adoption
- Informing families of and developing an adoption assistance agreement that reflects the child's current and future needs
- Identifying adoption competent therapy or other mental health services
- Connecting to support groups for adoptive families (or support groups for adopted children/youth) as well as parent to parent mentors
- Listing ongoing parenting education opportunities, such as classes, conferences, and workshops
- Creating respite care plans
Research indicates that offering structured information, training, and resources to families at various points throughout the adoption process may decrease the rate of adoption disruption. Receiving appropriate services and supports can help future adoptive parents view the significant life decision of adoption with a long-term perspective. Permanency support can function as a bridge for a successful transition to adoption and provide the groundwork for the foundation of a strong family who is able to overcome potential challenges that may occur after permanency.
Use the resources below to engage youth in their own case planning as a means of preparing them for permanency.
3 Resources on Useful Tips for Caseworkers
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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