Practical Guide to Adopting Kids Over Age Four

What are the special issues you must consider when adopting older children, or really any child over the age of four? How can you prepare as a family and how can you help the adopted child adjust? What warning signs should you know about in advance? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews the authors of Adopting Older Children: A Practical Guide to Adopting and Parenting Kids Over Age Four.

Read It

* Note this is an automatic transcription, please forgive the errors.

[00:00:13] Welcome everyone to Creating a FamilyTalk about adoption and infertility. Today we’re going to be talking about a practical guide when adopting a child over the age of two. It is based on the book I really like. I think you’re going to enjoy this show as much as I have. This show is brought to you by creating a family. We are the national adoption and infertility education and support nonprofit. And I’m Don Davenport your host and the executive director. This show is underwritten by jocky being Family Foundation. Their mission is to strengthen adoptive families through post adoption services. Their founder is Deborah Walsh. She is also the chairman and CEO of jocky International. And she has a saying I really like one failed adoption is one too many. You can’t support their their mission by buying a bear or a blanket at their Web site jocky being family. Dot com as we tell you each week and we mean it. This show would not exist without the support of our partners. And these are agencies that believe excuse me in our mission of providing unbiased education to both pre adoptive parents as well as continuing to support post adoption. Some of our wonderful Gold Sponsors include children’s house International. They are a non-profit Hague accredited international adoption agency with programs in 13 countries. They provide full services including home studies in the states of Florida Louisiana Massachusetts Texas Utah and Washington state. But they also placed children within U.S. approved family worldwide and adoptions from the heart. They have helped build over 6000.

[00:01:59] Get that six thousand families since 1985 through domestic infant adoption. They work with people all across the U.S. and they are fully licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey New York Delaware Virginia and Connecticut. And we hope that you will support those who support us. Today we’re going to be talking about a book that are talking with the authors of a book that I really like the name of the book is adopting older children. A Practical Guide to adopting and parenting children over the age of four. The authors are Stephanie Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, Gloria Russo Wassell and Victor Groza. They I I so enjoyed this book. I think one of the things I really enjoyed about it is it’s just one word in the title and that’s the word practical. I read a lot of adoption books and I always appreciate it when I find one that is not real pie in the sky and it brings it down to what I can actually do with giving me enough information as to why I need to do it. And this book struck the right chord for me. This is based on an interview we did two years ago. It is such a good show and such a good book that we wanted to bring it to you again. Enjoy. Welcome Victor and Stephanie to creating a family. Thanks for having us. Thank you. I love this book. I liked it. Just it is a terrific resource. I’m going to give them the title again for our audience adopting older children. A Practical Guide to adopting and parenting children over the age of four. It’s published by New Horizon press.

[00:03:41] It is a great resource. And what one of the things I like tonight I wrote a review for our site and this is what I said in the review. You did not boss over potential issues that might come up but you also didn’t exaggerate them. I read the book and so often I end up feeling discouraged when reading books such as this and I came away reading this book feeling encouraged. So I I thank you for this. Thank you for providing a resource a much needed resource for the adoptive parent community. I want to start by talking about just some common reasons that you hear from families as to why they might choose to adopt an older child. Stephanie you’ve been doing this for a while. What do you hear as reasons why people might want to adopt an older child. Sure. And I just want to say Don I’m so glad that you came away from the book feeling that way because that’s exactly that was exactly our aim to talk about potential challenges but also not to discourage people from considering older child adoption. Now why would some people consider older child adoption rather than infant adoption. One of the reasons is that infant adoption domestic adoption and intercountry adoption is a very very expensive. Another reason is the eligibility to adoption in a sense if you’re beyond a certain age. Many private agencies do not allow you to adopt infants. So say if you’re over the age of 45 or 50 for some agencies you are precluded from going through the infant adoption process. Another reason is that single people may be interested in adoption.

[00:05:40] But again they are not necessarily going to be selected by birth parents to adopt the birth parents infant because that birth parent wants a couple. So it’s more difficult for a single person to stop the event for all these reasons people may consider older child adoption but also just for the fact that people have great hearts and they realize that there are so many children in foster care and even abroad who are a little bit older. And when we say we do call for an older Ogar you know because infant adoption typically is a newborn or maybe a little bit. Most of the time newborns but you’re getting more and older adoption people may think only teenagers but actually we’re thinking you know grade school middle school high school age. Some people are just they have a calling to adopt ethically or from abroad because they they know how many children need families. I think that it’s important to note exactly. Just to reiterate what you said the greatest need in the United States for families is in foster care for foster care adoption is for children really over the age of 6. And quite frankly in most international adoptions now it’s quite hard to get a child under the age of two you can’t get a toddler from many countries. But if you have an affinity for a country or for whatever reason want to adopt internationally your child is likely it would not be at all surprising to have a child 4 and over. That’s kind of in nature now of the beast. I want him I want to move to talking about the translation transition period.

[00:07:33] When you’re adopting an older child it seems like it’s vastly different depending on whether you’re adopting a child from foster care or if you’re adopting internationally and if you’re adopting from foster care whether you are the child’s current foster family. In other words whether the child is already living with you. So let’s kind of talk. I want to do is get some tips for families because some in the audience will be some of our audience will be considering adopting and have not yet adopted it. Others will be adopted already adopting parents. So for those who are considering it are brand new and or just in the process. Let’s get some tips for that transition transition period when you’ve got an older child who let’s start by saying either foster care or internationally where the child has not been living in your home. Well actually break it up because usually if you’re adopting an older child through foster care you’re going to have some training you’re going to be given transition time so let’s talk about that first. And Victor I’d like for you to talk to us about that book talks primarily in the beginning about foster care where the child is transitioning into your home but is not currently living in your home. Thoughts on how parents can help the child make that transition and how they can help their other children and their family make that transition. Yeah great question. So one of the things that we recommend is that when you start the visitation that it be in the child space that you go to where the child is currently residing or the children and you really get to know their routines.

[00:09:05] You see kind of where they live. What’s miliard to them. The kinds of things that they like to play with the kinds of foods that they like to eat and that you really begin. Understand what the daily routine of that child is in the family that they’re currently moving or the situation that they’re living in and that you try to build some of those things back into the family that. So you start that transition by going to where the child is and then you go to like kind of a mutual space that’s not your family but maybe like in a park or maybe at a fast food restaurant or some place but that visitation becomes really important. So the child becomes familiar with the new situation. So I think that’s one of the key things is to know the child’s routine. And that’s a great idea. So you start in their space and you gradually move to a neutral space Park fast food restaurant with a play area or whatever and then move to your home and that be the general transition. That’s usually the transition and it’s the best plan if you can make it and that you then increase visitation. So maybe the first visit is just a quick in and out and the second visit is a couple hours and then the third visit is longer period of time it’s kind of extended because you don’t want this transition to be another trauma to the child. You want it to be bought for planful from the child’s perspective now from the dogs. What happens often is adults get so excited about this placement happening that they want accelerated pain.

[00:10:48] They may be good for them but it may be in the best interest of the child. So you have to be very thoughtful about that process and not let your your excitement and your feelings overwhelm good planning. Stephanie anything to add to tips for when transitioning in foster care where the child is not living in your home. I think take their hit on the major points. I think that you can talk to the foster parents to get a sense of how the child has been dealing in their pocket. I think the other thing I would add is that trying to get as much information as possible. One of the things that I really appreciate it Stephanie’s perspective is we want to make it realistic but not fatalistic when you’re getting information. And so one of the things you have to realize is some information that you may not be available. It may not be known but what information is available you should try to get because that helps you prepare cognitively thinking about what is this jobs experience what kind of issues may they might encounter and so give the written material and keep a copy for yourself so that you have what is known at the time that your placement about the child’s history and what we encourage people is to get the full copy of the record not the summer. Yes but you get to spend some time Pavy. They often times ask that you pay for the copy because it’s worth it or just go there sit down and spend time reading the entire file. So that’s another. Another great suggestion.

[00:12:38] Now in international adoption often the ideal scenario you’ve just talked about is not a possibility. So let’s talk about international adoption. What can we do that could mimic this or is that even possible in most countries. Victor Ahmer turn to you for this one. So one of the things I encourage families to not do is don’t hire an escort. Go to the country where the child is located. Even if both parents of your two parent family can’t go. One parent should go because you want to as much as possible replicate that transition process. If you hire somebody to just bring the child over. You never know the real context of where they’ve been. And again I would follow as much as possible. You know it’s going to be different in every country. But go to where the child is currently residing spend some time in that location. Figure out what they eat what music they hear what the sights and sounds and really don’t just take that child. If you can avoid it now sometimes you can’t. I mean this is I’m giving you like the Cadillac version of what you can do. It may end up with a little you know bicycle and not a car at all. So but I think it is important to understand their context as you transition them to your family yeah you could try to do to the extent possible replicate but you also do have to be flexible because the reality is the country and the people on the ground there are going to be in charge. And you can speak up and you can do your best to try to set.

[00:14:23] All right now we’ve got the child transition the child has now arrived in our home. How can we set realistic expectations and routines with these newly adopted children and I guess maybe that begs the question of is it important. And if so why is it important to set up routines for the for a newly adopted child. Well there are actually directing that Stephanie has followed him on to you. I’ll just say a little bit and I’m sure victor can add more. But our third co-author. Gloria always talks about the importance of absolutely setting routines. The child has been through so much possibly moving from foster home to foster home and now being adopted. That routine helps provide stability in their in their life and help them have some expectations as to what family life is like in their new home. It’s probably not the best idea to invite Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally. You know the 10 cousins over the first week when the child comes into your home that can be completely overwhelming. People talk about a honeymoon period where children are at their best behavior when they first come into the home. They perhaps don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker. That is going to be sent away again. Have to go to another home where the adoption will be canceled or something. You know whatever their thought process is and then very often things as they become more comfortable actually some of the behavioral issues come into play. But that routine goes in helping things out in the beginning. And I’ve heard people say just that it’s it’s important to prepare the siblings their new siblings.

[00:16:40] If you have children by birth already in the home or other adopted children prepare them for the child coming home and actually maybe have them correspond with the child before they come home to show how welcome they will be and how their new siblings are looking forward to their arrival and develop that relationship. So anything that can be done to make those first few months smoother and easier for the child are very important. You know what we do here Victor what we sometimes hear from people is that you know I’m just not a routine or in person. I’m just the spontaneous type. You know I’m just you know I find routines to be a straight jacket. What would you tell the parents. I get that. What would you tell to the adoptive parents who who are the more spontaneous type who feel like they would be chafing at the restrictions of routines. VICTOR Well I would say welcome to parenthood. And so raising children can be chaotic. But has to be chaotic within that structure and they may change that but not about them. But what children do better at children get better with predictability and transparency. And so I’m a big proponent of putting up what are the rules. What’s the routine using a token economy where you know you give them stars for doing what you want to do in the morning. And it could be very mundane things like get up a bit yesterday. You know anything that a parent expects should be very clear and written in a way that children can see and children begin to understand what’s in the family.

[00:18:38] When you say when you say make it explicit give us some. If you’ve got a five year old who is pre literate give us our child adopt from abroad who doesn’t speak our language. How can you make your routines and expectations great. Yeah. Pitchers you know kids you don’t need to use language you can just use a picture of somebody getting out of bed somebody brushing their teeth of somebody combing their hair somebody getting into the shower. So I think even children respond to pictures and know that this is the way it’s going to be everyday that this is a house of men. These are the way I’m supposed to behave in this house now that can be negotiated later. But at the beginning it wants to be really and clear because you want to have successful transition as children can and know what you expect. Many parents would say is innocently but then they have to go to work. And so that’s an anxiety producing time for children. What are you going to do when you go to work. Going to take care of me where do I go. And so you know taking kids to the people are going to care for them if you’re hiring somebody to care for them if they’re going to a school when it’s a new school before they actually get them to the school. So I think there’s lots of things that you can do that are not verbal but you have to really prepare for adopting older children and older children need structure and routines.

[00:20:20] And I always believe that even the parents who are the spontaneous ones who are convinced that they would really struggle with setting up routines adopting an older child is a stressful situation for them as well. And I find that they also thrive with a routine and it doesn’t have to be forever. You can revert some to a little more Lusi goosey once you’ve once you’ve set it up. So we have a question from Rhonda. She says we’re in the process of adopting a 9 year old who has been in foster care twice and has parental rights will be terminated soon. He is not living with us now. He has lived with his bio mom his grandmother and aunt a friend to the family for most of his life. It doesn’t sound like he’s ever had a consistent parent slash mother figure and has never had a father figure. He has been his current foster placement for six months and they report that he is more like a visitor but his behavior is fine. He knows that it is not permanent. I would love some advice on what to expect and how to teach him what it means to have a parent. I’d like to hear both of your thoughts on this question for Monda but let’s start with you Stephanie. A child who has never had parents and has not lived in a family a structured family environment. How do we help the child understand his role and your role. That’s a great question. And you know it will be a challenge.

[00:21:49] Older child adoption has many challenges inherent to it and that is because children do come from chaotic backgrounds where they’re going where their biological family has had issues and maybe as a single parent family or there’s substance abuse issues trauma abuse neglect. I don’t know the specifics of this particular situation but in terms of transitioning them into a more stable family situation again I think routines and talking to other parents who have been through that find out maybe what. Look at his grade level would be useful in teaching child about family life about different types of families. Also the car fondant may maybe from if they have existing children in the home develop a relationship before the child comes into the home so that he feels that he has a connection already and try to have as many visits as possible before he comes to live in the home permanently. OK. Excellent. Victor any thoughts on how do we teach children what it means what family life is and what it means to have a parent well 9 year olds can be pretty articulate equally. Nine year olds who have been through the system through these various families in some ways they end up being older beyond their years. And so the first thing I would do is talk to the child and really get their perspective of what does it mean for them to be in a family where it’s going to be two parents and it’s going to be predictable and you’re not going to be a visitor. This isn’t them. We want to make the commitment to you and say what do they expect and how they’re going to be different for them. I mean I would really you know not assume that the child not aware of the 9 years old is very aware of what’s going on.

[00:24:02] And you know it’s about opening up a conversation on the level that they understand and being open to listen to what they think about what her family is and how your family may be different. I really love them when life books that before children even that they get pictures and the family prepare is that who we are as a family. And that you kind of go through the family book with them says OK this is where your bedroom is going to be and here’s where your school is. I think those kind of really concrete things help children do and connects and they make that transition into the new family. One of the things that we often hear not often but we on occasion hear from families who have adopted older children either from foster care or internationally is a lack of understanding for their family and their friends on on why they would want to adopt an older child. For a lot of unsolicited advice on how or why you shouldn’t do it. So one of the questions that comes up is how can we have some tips for preparing our family and our friends for for our decision to do this and to prepare them. Also for some of the realities without again you without scaring them but also giving them a heads up. Let’s start with you Victor on that one. Well one of the things you know you’ll be out in public and people will look at you and they see that obviously there’s different so they may actually bring up the conversation.

[00:25:39] It’s really good to be prepared to have those four or five things that you would say in response to people’s questions like How much did they cost or why would you adopt an older child. And so I think every family is going to have the answer to this differently but it could be as simple as saying My heart was open to this child who needed the family. It could be as simple as that. You can also use this opportunity to educate people that there are thousands of children waiting for a family and this is the child that touched our heart and that we opened our lives to because this child needed us and we needed them a neutral kind of relationship. So I think families need to rehearse in their head and even write them the top five questions you think people may ask how are you going to respond to it so that you do it in a very emotional but factual way to educate people but also kind of protects you and your child who you may get questioned inappropriately sometimes from from people who don’t have good social skills. Well what about beforehand when your family is negative. One would hope that once the child is there and present during this conversation that that would not happen. But beforehand getting negative responses. Any thoughts on that Stephanie. Yeah we interviewed about 15 20 families for the book and I did hear stories unfortunate stories of people who receive judgment from close families and friends about their decision to adopt about their decision to adopt the child of a different race. I can imagine there might be judgment in some families if you decide to adopt a child that is gay or lesbian.

[00:27:36] This is unfortunate but people have to sort of brace themselves for possibly receiving such judgmental attitudes or even ignorant attitudes from people who are very close to them in some situations you may even want to put that friendship on hold or their family relationship on hold or maybe you find that you don’t want to have that relationship anymore because the person is just not supportive of your decision. And once you decide and once that child is in your home is your child that child comes first and you do not want family or friends having attitudes that will further jeopardize child feeling of security. They’ve gone through so much already. I think most friends and family who are questioning your decision will come around once they learn more about older child adoption and your decision and get to know the child and they’ll probably adore him or her after you know a short time. But sometimes you’re going to have people with surprising attitudes and you have to decide if that’s the relationship you still want in your life and you before you adopt you want to have make sure that you have supportive relationship and people around you. Are not necessarily close friends but a support group of people who have adopted older children. And I would also interject that I think a lot of it has to do in how you present it. If you presented as you were uncertain then I think you’re going to get advice and you’re going to hear negativity. If however you are very comfortable with your decision presented as a fait accompli we are doing this and we are excited about this. We’re looking forward to it.

[00:29:34] We are prepared that it could be rocky at times but we have enough love and we have enough resources and Bob blah blah and then to just say thank you for your input and move on. Thank you for the input that we are doing this and I hope you come on board. I think a lot if if if we feel if they think if they see an opening they’re doing it because they love us most of the time and so knowing they are coming from a place of love but also ignorance. It doesn’t hurt if you are listening to creating a family. Talk about adoption and infertility. We are so glad to have you with us on this show talking about older child adoption. We primarily keep in touch with our audience through our weekly newsletter. We have a weekly newsletter for adoption and we would love to have you sign up for it. That’s where you would be notified of the latest developments in this field. The expert Kunas we’ve added adoption in the news articles we add every week as well as the upcoming weeks adoption blog and show topic as well. You can sign up for our weekly newsletter on the top right side of any page of our website. Creating a family dot org here is a question we got from. Well actually I’m not going to use your name. She asked not to. She said we adopted a 6 year old our 6 year old daughter last year.

[00:30:55] I could use some help in navigating contact with previous foster family and birth family is it in my child’s best interest and we have another question that’s very long but it was along a similar line in asking if the child’s behavior goes downhill after each visit. What is that an indication of and is openness always in the child’s best interest and just kind of general questions about what to do when it appears that the child is not handling the contact well. So let’s talk just briefly here about openness in general and with international adoption of older children is usually not an option. It is not always an option in adopting from foster care but it can be and sometimes as with previous foster families sometimes with grandparents Herbas siblings and sometimes with birth parents themselves. Victor thoughts on this about navigating whether or not to have contact and how to know when it’s in your child’s best interest. So let me just talk about when kids behave badly after that. One of the things you have to keep in mind is that the language of children is their behavior and they’re behaving badly because it’s really demonstrating the loss of Nipigon attachment. And so it doesn’t surprise me that if children go visit somebody they’re really connected to and they come back and be Babli it’s really you know the negative relationship and they’re having trouble navigating. How does they connect it and how to be back in your family that there are situations where it’s not in the child’s best interest to have for example the truck in B.C. or know either emotionally or physically and that’s not a place to have an open relationship. But by and large so it has no attachment to a relative to a sibling another foster family.

[00:32:58] It is usually in their best interest and they maintain that attachment on some level because children have already experienced so much loss and we don’t want to compound the losses that they’ve already hurt by cutting off other significant attachment people. But you have to help them learn how to manage that and begin to help them develop strategies about talking about how they’re feeling rather than just acting out how they’re feeling. By and large a proponent of more openness and adoption and in fact most of the work that I’ve done and research overtime the adoptive parents wanting even more openness because they really recognize how important it is both to the child in the family to maintain those connections. Is something you sit there about maintain openness on some level. And I think that that may be something that parents would need to consider if the child is struggling with not being able to manage to fit are different levels of openness that can be expanded as the child matures and his child gets better able to use language and not words. Stephanie just briefly some ideas of different ways that openness can look other than what I think the general public usually thinks which is an actual visit. And I just want to say that the adoptive parents have control over contact their decision on the legal parents of the child. It’s not a matter of the birth parent saying I require a certain amount of it before this person can adopt my child. They don’t have a say in foster care in foster care adoption and infant adoption birth parents can they have the ability to select adoptive parents of their child and a criteria of selecting a particular couple might be that it is an open adoption and professional and definitely are encouraging open adoption more yourself now right.

[00:35:30] The adoptive parents choice. And just some different ways that I’ve seen people do it is through video and video chat Skype telephone Facebook that are not banks not encourage people to have their children young children to have Facebook accounts. But parents keeping up with other the openness between the adults and the relationship not the child. And that’s another. And that can be done through. There’s a lot of creative ways to do that via the social media as well. And the old fashioned ways of just emailing and things like that and those may be some things that people would want to consider. With the goal that as the child becomes better able to handle the contact that it would be important for them perhaps again the safety being a major issue exchange of gifts or photos might be another way that having birth parents a significant milestone event. Oh that’s another one yeah. Concert or graduation. Excellent. OK good. Now let’s move to talking about some you have a section in your book and it’s actually throughout the book. There are many places where you talk about this but parenting tips for raising adopted children in particular with an eye towards children who’ve experienced trauma in the form of abuse or neglect. What are some tips for parents kind of not necessarily quick and dirty to quit things that checklist that people can go through and say OK I can do that I can do that I could do that that type of thing. Victor let’s start with you. Well one of the things is early intervention is better.

[00:37:12] So I say get therapy early and often it’s better to err on the side of being proactive and getting some professional help rather than waiting and see if it gets better or gets worse you know because we have more success if we can get children and families involved much earlier in professional services. So one of the tips. You know err on the side of costs in getting somebody to do an assessment and see if this child really would benefit from some professional help and make the assumption that they probably would need it at the first at the beginning and that you will need you need an expert to go in assuming it and getting it lined up. All right. Back to you Victor Stephanie. That’s great when we started with therapy early and often. OK I’ll let you do the second one Stephanie. Sure. Gloria wrote a chapter 2 on parenting approaches and what she always emphasizes is positive parenting techniques punishment and technique that you would use with your other children who are not older adoptees aren’t going to work with an older edasi. They most likely have a history. The older adoptee has a history of trauma and you’re going to need to figure out a whole different set of parenting approaches. Basically would that be more rewarding better behavior not punishing bad behavior is that good right. Yeah. Reward the behavior you want to see. That’s a great one. OK Victor did another one that you give us. Absolutely. Get involved with parents. You know the linchpin of success in adoption is to have other people who understand what you’re going through.

[00:39:06] Been there and can give you great advice including the professionals you should see and the professionals you should avoid so don’t easily get involved with other parents. Quickly adopted. We’re going to come we’re going to circle round to that in the next section here about post adoption support. But I would certainly I would agree with that. And Stephanie do you have one for us. OK parenting technique. Yes. I was just K’Nex. Yes I would say what. Adoptive parents of older children talked about in our interviews a lot is using a sense of humor in parenting. And we read this in the literature as well it always comes up you have to sometimes when things get so difficult you just have to have a sense of humor. And you have to even motivate your child using humor. You know things get can get kind of dark and you know if the child is going through a particular episode remembering or reliving past trauma. Not to say that humor is a substitute for getting professional help but just stop parents time and again talk about flexibility and sense of humor and creativity. I can definitely see that as a mother four reporter Victor suggest another parenting tip well well learn to really be flexible. I think you know humor is great. And I think Stephanie is absolutely right. Children would teach you to be flexible in ways you never imagined. And you know you have to have one of the things that the parents sometimes do is they try something one and it didn’t work. So they do more of the same thing. If it were a little bit it’s not going to work a lot.

[00:41:05] And so you have to really figure out how can I be flexible about whatever it is that’s going on. And so I think the humor and the flexibility go hand in hand. Successful families are flexibles and yeah that’s that’s great because I totally agree and that’s a difference between being wishy washy or flip flop or whatever the correct term for that is. But if it’s not working even though it has worked before with other kids try something else. You know it you know it’s not always going to be OK. Excellent. You are listening to creating a family. Today we’re talking about adopting older kids creating a family has the largest adoption in infertility communities on the social networks and they would be even better if you joined us clout. Which is the online influence ranker now ranks. Is number two online influence or worldwide in the areas of both adoption as well as infertility. There are three ways to connect with us on the social networks. We primarily play around on Facebook Pinterest and Twitter on Pinterest and Twitter. You can find us at creating a family on Facebook there are three ways to connect with this one. Of course have our Facebook page which is creating a family. We also which you can find at creating Famicom flat Facebook dot com slash creating a family. We also have a very large and very active and very supportive online support group on Facebook. The closed group. And you can find that at Facebook dot com slash groups slash creating a family.

[00:42:40] To be honest you can just type creating a family and the Facebook search box and both the page and the group will pop up you can like the page and join the group or you can connect with me personally. Dawn Davenport one. All right. I want to in the time we have remaining talked about post adoption support this is a real push for for our organization creating a family. And and both almost selfishly I want to pick the brains of experts like yours both of you on what is working and what we as an organization can do better. And then from our audience standpoint how can they as adoptive parents tap into the support that’s available. Because what we find is that if we can get our resources well they back up a second creating a family. Our mission is to create resources for both education and support for adoptive families both pre and post adoption. That’s what we do and all of our resources are offered without charge to the families so we know we have great resources. The question is how do we get them in the hands of families before they give up. Because honestly once we find that people have thrown in the towel it’s really hard to turn the ship around that there has to be a force there. So so how how do how can we reach families after they’ve adopted with our resources. Victor any thoughts on that. Yeah one of the thing that is would be your mantra is there’s no shame. Ask for help your has nothing to do with you being a parent. It has everything to do about parenting and Salihu special needs because they’re older so why did your mom have to be.

[00:44:31] There’s no shame asking for help. And we have to learn how to deal with families as we prepare them for the adoption and those are going to the current issues and those children are placed in their home. There’s no shame in asking for help. Kids should be expected. It’s a normal part of the adoption experience that they use when it comes up either from a parenting perspective or from a child development perspective that professional help is really essential to helping navigate that transition. So we really want them to recognize that post adoption should be always thinking about who can get help with. Would this child amuses you. Yeah I like that. No shame in asking for help. We say that all the time. All right. Let’s start it seems to me that that roughly we can say that there are services and support available nationally and locally. Let’s start on the national level creating a family is a national organization. So of course that’s where I’d want to start. But let’s think in terms of what type of services are available for a post adoptive families and this is we’re talking about older child adoption let’s say post adoption families who have adopted older kids. And I’d like to hear from both of you Stephanie thoughts on what type of services are available nationally to families nationally. I would suggest that well first of all as parents adopt through a national private organization they certainly should find out right off the bat what post adoption services are available through that organization. And really that would probably be referral to clinical services support groups for a parent support group.

[00:46:29] Even for kids there’s adoption camps where children have been separated through adoption can spend time with their sibling. So parents people thinking about adoption need to now do their research first and know what the organization they’re adopting through has to offer it to them and they have to understand that when they need to go and they most likely will have to get therapeutic services that they have to go to a trauma informed and adoption informed clinician is going to circle back to that I want to spend some time on exactly that point. Victor you have any other national I’ll throw out creating families. We have a Adoption Resource Guide with probably 30 to 40 specific topics where we have extensive resources and we have videos that we have articles. We have blogs. We have expert Cuban days. We have these shows we archive these shows and we have resources specifically to older child adoptions special need adoption trans racial adoption. We cover some specific disabilities like raising children with trauma. We have resources on transitioning home old sleep issues discipline challenging behaviors things like that. So anyway creating a family has tons of resources including a online support group. All right before we came off of that Victor any any additional resources you could think of from a national level that parents can access information for information a Wolper mission gateway. It’s a free service you can go there you can reserve about that. The other place is if you’re looking for treatment providers or particular techniques. The California clearinghouse on child welfare really evaluates different methods of treatment and it’s really written for more professional but a lot of adopted families are quite sad.

[00:48:43] They can go to that Web site and also look out is the treatment that I’m looking at for my child an evidence based treatment and can be you know sure that this is really going to work for my child. So those are the two I would suggest people take a look at. Well that was a great segue into exactly what I want to spend some time on which is this is moving more to the local because obviously well for the most part we think in terms of therapy as being a local resource. Let me just quickly say some other local resources you might want to be looking at are a respite care local support group so that quite frankly those are few and far between. And particularly if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area. But respite care is a great one. And as well as different forms of therapy including emotional therapy as we think about it not physical therapy but emotional therapy. Right now this is what I want to talk about is finding is how the parents find an adoption competent therapist how does how parent find what type of therapy is going to work. Because if I could pick one recurring refrain that I hear from families it’s they you know they go to just a regular family therapist and but they’re not certain family or child therapist and they’re not certain if that person is giving them advice that is is going to work for their child. Victor you mentioned quite a bit. Let me let me direct this to you and help families. What’s a parent to do when they’re trying to find a therapist.

[00:50:26] Well the first thing is talk to the adoptive parents because I think they’re a great source of information. They’re going to say to you this is a therapist who we went to and we think they were wacko and the therapists went through that was really helpful when our child was experiencing this difficulty. So the first place I guess you talked about the parents. That’s why we said you know one of the things that parents can do is get connected with their adopted parents. They are a lifeline too. I think the other thing is don’t be afraid to interview therapist about their expertise. You can ask them Did you have adoption coursework Have you gone to seminars about adoption. How do you integrate adoption issues into your treatment. I mean we give some really good guidelines in our book about the questions you should be asking therapist psychiatrist we even say take the book with you and so you complain that that was there. Nick you ever write the rumor of services to air the kind of questions so that you know you’re getting the best service that you can get the child who’s having a difficulty. Yeah and that’s a great section in your book. Stephanie should parents be involved in the child’s therapy. I’ve heard from more than one parent that their child’s therapist has the parent should have no place in the therapeutic environment when they’re just kind of a general rule. Is that a. Is that a good rule to follow across the board with adoption. I’m sure there are specific cases where it would be good.

[00:52:07] But is that a good general rule to begin with with adoption. I would say probably not because you’re probably going to want to look for a clinician that uses an evidence based trauma treatment. And your listeners can find more information about trauma and evidence based trauma treatments for from NC. Send that org which is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network dot org. And that again in the and definitely Anishinaabe initials of the National traumatic National Child Traumatic Stress Network. And they will outline the most widely used evidence based trauma treatment. Now that means an intervention that been researched and determined to be effective with children experienced experiencing different types of trauma and most of these interventions do involve the entire family in session. There may be some that has a certain component where the child works with the therapist on their own. But it’s important that listeners do better research on trauma treatments because a practitioner who is not familiar with trauma and trauma treatment could actually do the child harm in using a treatment that just isn’t effective with the young children who are sick who have experience such trauma. Victor what should a parent do if they will back up and say how is there a listing of a competent adoption competent therapist or is there a listing of evidence based trauma therapist by location. Does the CPS or website list people who are trained specifically or is there another listing for adoption competent therapist that people can go to. Well at this point there’s not a regular listing but I know that the federal government has just funded a project that is supposed to be working at building a whole community of compered adoption competent trainers.

[00:54:26] I mean if you’re in Ohio it’s a little bit easier where I live because we have resource rich and my university has been training folks in the community for a long period of time of the community. I think one of the places that you might want to start is go to the school and work find somebody there who knows about adoption and ask them who in our community has adoption competency because there is no such thing. And it is very difficult sometimes of families to find the right person. Kind of a general when I work with them as I say Well I think you said give me three months three months. We’re going to re-evaluate what we’re doing and it’s not working for you. I’m going to help you find somebody who you think might be better able to help you meet your needs. And I think as a rule of thumb families can engage in that kind of contract with somebody who they are not quite sure about their doubts and competency and. Well we’re going to be involved as a family myself treatment. And in three months time if it’s not really working I think we’ll re-evaluate what we’re doing where we’re going to go with what’s going on. And if a parent cannot find an adoption competent therapist or a evidence based trauma therapist in their area. Victor what options do they have is it possible to do therapy over the phone at least with the parents. Do parents have any option at that point. Well I think those options are actually growing.

[00:56:03] It’s a really interesting time in treatment because now some providers who do it through Skype have to work with you at different locations or Google connect or other other vehicles. So I think the options for families who live in more remote areas who are in the urban area where there’s usually a resource rich environment for finding providers this will. I think it’s going to open up many doors. The thing is you want to make sure that you’re involved with somebody who’s licensed credible and good standing in their stay and talk to the parents. I mean I think that’s really the key here is they will provide you good advice about who’s a good practitioner the work with I think you’re. Yeah I think you’re exactly right. And hence the even national support groups we see all the time people posting on are saying I live in Wyoming. Get everybody recommends somebody you know you know near my city or whatever. And that’s just a really useful tool as well. Well Stephanie I’m going to give you the last word. I’d like to end on a positive note. What have you seen so far and resiliency and Post Trauma growth and anger in kiddo’s who have been adopted at an older age. Well just interviewing the families for the buck I am just so amazed and so encouraged by their stories. They most of them have had some really tough time but most of them have over come the worst of the challenges and their children are thriving. I would say that people can’t go into older child adoption uneducated but they should not dismiss it either. Educate yourself. And you know it can be the best experience and decision that a family make. Absolutely.

[00:58:05] Thank you both so much for being on the creating a family show today. I think we have provided some really useful information. Let me stop for a moment and remind you that it is through the generous support of our gold sponsors that we are able to bring you both this show as well as all the resources on older child adoptions special needs adoption transitioning home post parent post adoption depression and parents etc. etc. These resources are supported and are brought to you by our gold sponsors who include children’s connection Inc. There an adoption agency with offices throughout providing domestic infant adoption embryo donation adoption and home studies and post adoption support to families throughout the United States. We have the Independent Adoption Center whose mission is to provide open adoption placement and counseling to birth and adoptive families. They work and families in all 50 states are fully licensed in California New York Florida Texas Georgia Indiana and North Carolina and Connecticut. And we have Nightlight Christian Adoptions they have been providing adoption services for more than 50 years with offices in California Colorado South Carolina and Kentucky. They provide international adoption domestic adoption foster care adoption and embryo adoption services. If you have enjoyed this show do us a favor and hop on over to iTunes and give us a rating. We are ranked as number 1 there by far and we’d like to keep that ranking and it really matters. Your comments it’s the star rating system or you can actually leave a comment. Either one it’s quick it’s easy and we really appreciate it. Thank you so much Stephanie Basco Rogier Ruggiero. Darn I messed up the pronunciation on that.

[00:59:47] I get it right. Yeah. Okay enough Don close enough and Victor grows up for being our guest today on creating a family. If you want to participate in a discussion of one of the topics of this show you can check out my blog tomorrow at creating a family or blog. And let’s keep the ideas coming in the discussion going because this is such an important topic and let me encourage everyone to buy this book. Adopting older child. A Practical Guide to adopting the parent over the age of 4. It is a great read. It is a hopeful read and I. If this is something you’re considering or if you’re actually parenting a child that isn’t adopted an older age you just can’t do better than them buying this book. They also have a website adopting older children dot com. You can get the book of course on Amazon or Esker independent seller it’s published by New Horizon press and they’ll buy it or you can buy it through their website. Adopting older childrenDotcom thank you so much for joining us today and I will see you next week.

Hit the Highlights
  • What are some common reasons you hear from families as to why they chose to adopt older children?
  • The transition period is vastly different depending on whether you are adopting from foster care or internationally, and if adopting from foster care, whether you are the child’s current foster family. In other words, whether the child is already living with you. Can you give us some tips for the transition period depending on these different scenarios.
  • How to set realistic expectations and routines with a newly adopted older child?
  • Why is it important to establish a routine, and what if you are the more spontaneous type of person?
  • What to do when the honeymoon period is over and your wonderful child becomes less wonderful?
  • How to teach kids to live in a family and to have parents when they have never had this experience before.
  • Why do kids test boundaries?
  • Tips for preparing your relatives and friends for your adopting older children.
  • Are open adoptions in the best interest of children adopted at an older age?
  • How to handle if the child’s behavior goes downhill after a visit? How can you decide if contact with previous foster family or birth family is beneficial to your child? What are some signs to look for?
  • How to talk with older kids about their biological family when often times their birth family made poor decisions or abused them or neglected them?
  • Parenting tips for raising an adopted child who experienced abuse or neglect.
  • How to reach families after they adopt with resources and support?
  • What type of services are available nationally?
  • How to find local post-adoption services?
  • With help, can most children thrive in their adopted families?
  • Finding an adoption therapist to work with your child
  • What makes a good adoption therapist?
  • Should parents be involved in the child’s therapy?
  • How to find an adoption-competent therapist.
  • What if an adoptive parent cannot find an adoption-competent therapist in their area? What options do they have?
  • What have you seen as far as resiliency and post-trauma growth in kids adopted at an older age?

Don’t miss an episode. Be sure to subscribe.

Leave us a rating or review.

Image credit: Moin Uddin  

Show originally aired in 2015.