Maintaining Family Connections
Children and youth who are adopted should maintain relationships with their birth families and other important people in their lives, and it is essential that adoptive families and adoption professionals help them do so. Maintaining family connections helps children and youth understand their adoption and nurture positive feelings about their birth family. Additionally, when adoptive parents commit to preserving a child’s connections, they demonstrate a willingness to prioritize the child’s needs and provide an opportunity for the child to develop an identity rooted in these supportive relationships.
Continued contact with birth family members or other caregivers after an adoption is in the best interests of children, as ongoing communication may minimize feelings of grief and loss, reduce the trauma of separation, and help children and youth develop a stronger sense of identity. As children grow and move through developmental stages, new information and understanding gained from these relationships will help them process who they are.
Child welfare workers can use the strengths-based approach of maintaining connections and facilitate contact between children, youth, and families. Caseworkers can support these connections in several ways, including by helping families be flexible and focusing on how to strengthen their familial relationships and mediating to help families overcome potential challenges.
Caseworkers can help maintain family connections by:
- Assisting children and youth in building relationships with their extended families before the adoption is finalized
- Promoting and facilitating relationships between foster parents and the child’s birth family prior to the adoption
- Collaborating with adoptive parents to identify strategies to nurture the children's relationship with their birth family
- Identify issues that may arise as the families build new relationships with each other and potential solutions to these issues
- Educating families about how their relationship may change and evolve over time and encourage them to seek support from adoption professionals and/or adoption competent services when needed
Maintaining ongoing contact with family members and developing relationships over time leads to stronger connections for children and youth. The resources below describe the importance of helping children, youth, and families sustain these relationships after an adoption and suggest ways for caseworkers to help.
3 Resources to Support Connections With Families
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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