Building a Relational Network of Support for Adoptive Families
Adoptive families frequently express a need for support services. This calls for professionals to take initiative to guide families in developing their personal support network through support groups and peer support. Support resources bring together families that face the same type of challenges and go through similar adjustments to redefine themselves as adoptive families.
Support groups are commonly used to facilitate an understanding of common issues and provide an opportunity to share experiences and problem-solving strategies. Although each support group have varying purposes and needs, a while-you-wait support group is designed to support prospective adoptive parents during the transitional period of waiting to adopt a child. During this time, professionals can assist prospective adoptive families identify family and friends who may be able to support. An activity that can be effective to enlighten adoptive families’ support network about adoption is to invite them to hear from a panel of foster/adoptive parents about their life experiences.
A vital means for support is through peer support – where families and children/youth spend time with others in similar situations. Peer support normalizes the experiences of children and parents as they make connections with others. This can reduce isolation and stress and provide families with hope and encouragement. Also, parents may feel more comfortable receiving help from their peers that cared for children who have experienced abuse, trauma, and neglect. Professionals can provide peer support for adoptive families through the following ways:
- Value the expertise of experienced parents and caregivers
- Engage experienced parents in designing peer support
- Use your needs assessment
- Prepare and develop your peer supporters
- Prepare for and address the needs of the peer supporter
Although each family’s situation is unique, individuals touched by adoption are united by a unique bond. There are positive effects in connecting with a community of peers from a perspective of empathy and understanding around common concerns and needs. Parents can offer valuable insight based on their adoption experience and give and receive support relationally. Establishing a support system is a great way for families to explore practical approaches and coping mechanisms and learn about helpful resources and best ways to access them.
3 Resources to Build A Supportive Network for Adoptive Families
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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