Relationships with Birth Parents who Struggle With Addiction

What are some coping strategies for dealing with your child’s birth parent when they are struggling with addiction? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national adoption & foster care education and support nonprofit, interviews Kate Cleary, Executive Director of Consortium for Kids. She is a social worker, an adult adoptee whose mother was addicted, and she has helped negotiate over 40,000 post-adoption openness agreements for kids transitioning out of foster care.

Hit the Highlights
  • The nature of addiction.
  • If you could summarize into just one of two key points for adoptive and foster parents:
    • Dealing with your own grief that the relationship isn’t what you want
    • Don’t expect them to change – accept them as they are. They aren’t like you.
  • How to handle things when birth parent shows up for a meeting with child high or stoned?
  • How to handle things when birth parents who are addicted fail to show up for meetings with adoptive family and child?
  • How to set healthy boundaries with birth parents who are addicted? How to set these boundaries when you have an open adoption with a birth parent dealing with addiction?
  • How to avoid becoming an enabler? Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, etc. are good places to get educated.
  • Suggestions for ways to maintain the spirit of openness even if you feel the need to reduce contact?
  • Don’t make changes written in stone. People heal.
  • Issues in foster care for foster parents working with birth parents who are addicted.
  • Explaining drug addiction of birth parents to children. When? How?

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Image credit: ECraig4