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A Changing World: Shaping Best Practices Through Understanding of The New Realities of Intercountry Adoption

November 4, 2013 Comments off

A Changing World: Shaping Best Practices Through Understanding of The New Realities of Intercountry Adoption
Source: Donaldson Adoption Institute

The Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI) today released a new study showing that a growing number of the girls and boys being adopted internationally today are not the infants of adoption’s recent past but, instead, are older children with sometimes-serious special needs. As a result of this reality, the study recommends that best practices be created and implemented to help all of their families to succeed and, for those with severe problems, to prevent the kind of distress that leads desperate parents to seek radical solutions like “re-homing” their adopted children.

The 176-page report, titled “A Changing World,” represents the most extensive independent research to date into intercountry adoption, including the regulatory framework/treaty called the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption. The study – conducted over the past two years by scholars at Tufts University and DAI – included surveys of 1,500 adoptive parents and adoption professionals in “receiving” countries and countries of origin, as well as interviews with senior policymakers in 19 nations. Its key findings include:

  • Implementation of the Hague Convention has resulted in an increase in legal, safe and appropriate adoptions.
  • There is greater transparency and consistency in the international adoption process, as well as an increased focus on the best interests of and protections for children who need families.
  • More children are remaining institutionalized for longer periods, thereby incurring greater psychic and developmental harm and diminishing their prospects of ever moving into a permanent family.
  • Many countries of origin, including the largest ones such as China, are increasingly allowing intercountry adoption primarily or exclusively of children who have special needs.
  • Though many parents surveyed chose intercountry adoption to avoid children’s families of origin, a fast-growing number changed their minds – fueling a trend toward international open adoptions.
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A Need To Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence Among Mental Health Professionals

September 10, 2013 Comments off

A Need To Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence Among Mental Health Professionals
Source: Donaldson Adoption Institute

As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the lives of children and families, the Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a new, research-based report today recommending that mental health professionals should receive more and better training on adoption-related issues.

The 63 page report, titled ” A Need to Know,” points out that one of the most frequent complaints from members of adoptive and birth/first families is an inability to find psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and related practitioners who understand the unique, adoption-related issues that can affect their identities, their relationships and other important components of their lives.

For a variety of reasons, mental health professionals typically do not receive the training required to fill adoption-related counseling needs and, too often, either do not fully understand why such training is necessary or mistakenly believe the knowledge they already have is sufficient. To address that reality, this report by the Donaldson Adoption Institute seeks to raise the level of professionals’ awareness about the nature and importance of adoption clinical competence, heighten their desire to receive such training, and identify various means by which the relevant knowledge and skills can be obtained.

Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections

March 24, 2012 Comments off

Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections (PDF)
Source: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

While openness has become common practice in domestic adoptions in this country (Vandivere, et al., 2009), it is an alien concept for many seeking to adopt, as well as for their friends, families and others with whom they interact in their professional and personal lives. In fact, the first national survey on public attitudes related to adoption, published by the Adoption Institute in 1997, found considerable ambivalence in the general public toward even a moderate level of openness; only 16 percent of respondents, for example, approved of birthmothers in most adoptions occasionally sending cards or letters to adoptive families, with others saying it was okay in some (40%) or very few (23%) cases. According to the adoption professionals who responded to a new survey – described in this report – understanding of the realities of openness in adoptions today is an area in which considerable progress is needed.

Since the practice of openness took hold in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, adoption professionals, researchers and the affected parties themselves have identified many benefits for birth families, adopted children and adoptive parents. Some challenges have been documented as well, including ones stemming from early misunderstandings or conflicting expectations. It is critically important for adoption professionals, as well as members of birth and adoptive families, to understand openness and the factors that are important for shaping effective open adoption relationships, not only in making decisions related to openness before child placement, but also in navigating open relationships over time.

This report is the first in a series the Institute plans to publish that will address the phenomenon of openness in domestic infant adoptions. It summarizes research knowledge on the topic and presents findings from a survey of 100 infant adoption programs in the U.S. regarding their practices around openness and the qualities that facilitate successful open adoption relationships. The institute is also in the final stages of preparing a related curriculum for preadoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoptive placement for their children.

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