Resources for Adoptive Families

Resources for Adoptive Families2018-10-24T15:33:46+00:00

Please peruse the resources below for helpful tips, great organizations, and other resources to help you navigate the ongoing journey of adoption!

Amara believes that post-adoption contact with biological family, when appropriate, is the healthiest option for all parties involved. Visits between adoptive families, birth families and/or other significant members of the adoptee’s life are an opportunity to develop and nurture these relationships. A positive attitude and an understanding outlook can offer insight into the unpredictable rhythms and emotions inherent in adoption relationships. Maintaining a perspective of openness toward important people in your child’s early life is a key piece in supporting an adoptee’s identity.

Open Adoption Visits: Top 10 Places to Meet Up 

Deciding on an appropriate, fun and child-centered location for a visit can be tricky. This document provides a helpful list.

Adoption Candle Ceremony:

Ritual can play an important role in helping children address and express unspoken feelings. The folks at FAIR (Families Adopting in Response) have developed a beautiful ritual for adopted children. We encourage families and professionals to think about how they can use this ceremony, modified as needed, to validate the experiences of the children they love and serve.

A Different Kind of Normal:

“Children who have been affected by prenatal substance abuse can be difficult children to parent, difficult children to get close to, and sometimes difficult children to love. They may find it difficult to love themselves. The reciprocal circle of attachment, so important in adoption, in this case may tilt out of focus not because of abuse or neglect, but because a child’s internal circuitry makes it hard for the child to be able to communicate needs and hard for the adults to be able to satisfy these. It is harder for strong connections to be established or to stay in place.”

Is It Private or Is It Secret? Sorting out What to Tell Whom:

Not everyone is entitled to the details of our private decisions or our private lives. All families set privacy boundaries and help their children learn to do so. But setting privacy boundaries and secret- keeping are not the same.

The Life Story Book:

Every individual is entitled to his or her own history. It is difficult to grow up to be a psychologically- healthy adult without having had to one’s own history. Traditionally, the family is the repository of knowledge about the child. Children separated from their families of origin do not have daily access to this source of information about their personal histories. It becomes more difficult for them to develop a strong sense of self and to understand how the past may influence present behaviors. Without this awareness, it will be more difficult for them to make conscious choices and to take responsibility for their own behaviors. For this reason, we believe a Lifebook should be made for each child. It is never too late or too early to make a Lifebook.

Talking with Children about Difficult History:

Parents who have potentially painful information about their child’s history and/or birth family face a number of complex and difficult decisions. These decisions include: Should we share this information with our child? If so, when, at what age or developmental stage? How do we share this information? How much should we share? Who should tell her?

Why Children Don’t Talk (Much) About Adoption:

Parents often say that their children don’t talk much about adoption and don’t seem interested when parents bring up the topic. Does this mean children really aren’t concerned about adoption’s themes?

Conversations with peers and/or teachers may be uncomfortable for adopted children. Teachers may assign work that is triggering. It is important for parents and teachers to be proactive to ensure emotional safety for the adoptee.

Adoption-Unfriendly School Assignments:

One way that children are taught about the world and people around them is through assignments that focus on When these assignments are broadened purposefully to be inclusive and respectful of many diverse family models, children growing up in “non-standard” families can relax and learn. Too often, however, these assignments are not sensitively designed.

What Teachers Should Know About Adoption:

One way that children are taught about the world and people around them is through assignments that focus on When these assignments are broadened purposefully to be inclusive and respectful of many diverse family models, children growing up in “non-standard” families can relax and learn. Too often, however, these assignments are not sensitively designed.

Suggestions for Teachers working with Adopted Children:

Support adopted children by letting them decide what to share!

40 Ways to Increase Bi-Culturalism 

Many transracial families can benefit from incorporating the adopted child’s culture of origin into their homes. For transracial families, it is often a matter of bi-culturalism versus assimilation. This document offers a list of 40 items to serve as a guide to get started.

10 Ways to Identify Racism

Both in schools and out, young children are exposed to racist and sexist attitudes. These attitudes – expressed over and over in textbooks and other media – gradually distort their perceptions until stereotypes and myths are accepted as reality. The 10 guidelines in this document are offered as a starting point in evaluation children’s books.

White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible White Knapsack

McIntosh describes white privilege vividly and powerfully as the idea of an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions and more. In other words, a white person in the United States has on his or her back an invisible weightless knapsack granting favored positions, status, acceptance, and more. In wading through the disillusionment the reality of realized white privilege brings upon one’s life, McIntosh understood that it then made one newly accountable. McIntosh began working through this issue first in herself through accountability in counting the ways in which she enjoyed “unearned skin privilege;” possibly even more grievous, she noted that she had been conditioned into oblivion of its existence.  Likely, many whites operate in such oblivion.

The Adopted Life Episodes

This series, hosted by Angela Tucker, features interviews with teen and pre-teen transracial adoptees to bring awareness and education to the public about complex issues such as racial identity formation, searching for and having open relationships with birth/biological families, and, in some cases, having little to no information about one’s biological families.

Closure Documentary (film)

Angela, an African-American, was raised by a Caucasian couple in a large, multiracial family in Washington State.  She was adopted at the age of one from foster care in the state of Tennessee, under the terms of a closed   As Angela grew older it became apparent that the unanswered questions about her birth story would continue to haunt her if she did not attempt to find some answers.  Filmed and edited by her husband Bryan, this documentary follows Angela for two years during the search for her birth family.  Several twists and surprising revelations ultimately lead Angela and her family across the country to her place of birth.  It is here where Angela comes face to face with her birth mother for the first time, and meets family members who had never known she was even born – including her birth father.

Off and Running (film)

With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean—Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known. She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. OFF AND RUNNING follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths people must go to become themselves.

What Adopting a White Girl Taught One Black Family:

Most discussions about transracial adoption highlight white parents adopting kids of color, however transracial adoption refers to any adoption in which parents of one race adopt a child of a different race. Resources for non-whit adoptive parents are scarce.

Adoptees, birthparents and/or birth relatives who were separated by adoption may decide to search for each other at some point. If successful, a reunion will likely be emotional. The resources found within offer multiple perspectives as everyone responds differently to this experience.

Adopted People Considering a Reunion

The decision to search for a birthparent often takes courage and requires adequate preparation. It is important to be clear what your reasons are for searching and how that may impact your birthparent. The search may be quick or may take years to locate the other person. It may also take some time before they are ready to respond to you, and what might happen once you have found them is an unknown. Hence, it is important to prepare yourself by understanding what could happen, by learning of others’ experiences and how they have coped and by ensuring you have adequate support around you to deal with the journey ahead.

Post-Reunion Relationships

Post-reunion relationships change over time and, like all relationships, may need to be worked at. This may be ongoing over many years as life experiences can impact on your relationship with one another.

Biological Parents Considering a Reunion

The decision to search for the now adult child you placed for adoption is a momentous one and requires adequate preparation. It is important to be clear what your reasons are for searching and to consider what the implications of a reunion might be to you, your family and to the adoptee.

Washington Adoption Reunion Movement (WARM)

WARM is a non-profit organization aiming to reunite families separated by adoption. WARM serves adoptees, birth family members, and adoptive families in Washington State since 1976. WARM provides information, referral, support and search services.

International Soundex Reunion Registry

This agency is a mutual consent reunion registry for anyone wanting to connect with next-of-kin. Participating in this registry is free. Soundex allows the registry to search names by the way they are pronounced in English rather than spelling. When information on the registrations of parties match and a relationship is determined, the parties will be notified immediately.

Adopted Adults Support Group

This is a Facebook group for adult adoptees to share, vent and connect with others with similar experiences. Topics range from searching to coping with the emotional impact of being adopted. This is a group for only adult adoptees.

Adoption Search & Reunion

This Facebook group is for adoptees, birth parents, siblings and relatives and friends. Members are able to get support with searching and reuniting. There is also support and guidance available for adoptive parents who are in need of guidance through this process.

Adoption Reunion Search and Support Group

This Facebook group discusses search and reunion. Members can post information related to their search and there are members who are willing to help with this process. There is also information about the rights birth families and adoptees have in each state, resources for searching and documents that explain searching through DNA.

Adoptee Reading Resources

This is a site with a list of books that may be of interest to adopted people. This website centers books that are written by adoptees and some are not related to adoption. The website also includes reviews written by adoptees for books. Finally, the website lists books written by non-adoptees but are recommended by adult adoptees.

The Other Mother (book)

by Carol Schaefer – This is the story of a birth mother who gave her child up for adoption and searches for him 19 years later.

The Primal Wound (book)

by Nancy Verrier – This book discusses the ‘primal wound’, or the wound that is created when a child is separated from their mother, that many adopted people struggle with throughout their lifetime. The book discusses the effects of loss, attachment, bonding, and psychological effects of adoption.

Amara believes that therapists must be familiar with the unique challenges that adoptive families encounter. Those who have experience and a working understanding of attachment, trauma and the core issues associated with adoption and foster care are best suited to support families to identify issues and plan effective interventions.

Please contact us for a Seattle/Tacoma area adoption-competent therapist referral.

Disenfranchised Grief

Ambiguous loss—a feeling of grief or distress combined with confusion about the lost person or relationship—is a normal aspect of adoption. Parents who adopt children with special needs may feel ambiguous loss related to what the child could have been had he not been exposed to toxic chemicals in utero, or abused and neglected after birth. Birth parents experience loss when a child is removed from their home.