Your thoughts needed: Post-Adoption Support

Just a few days to go to the Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference.

I’ve been living and breathing this conference for the past three months. When I saw the first announcement, I knew I’d be attending, but I didn’t think I’d be as deeply involved as I am. In July I was asked to help coordinate the speaker logistics, which has been a huge undertaking given the number of speakers that are participating. I then got involved with the Meet the Bloggers session. And finally, I was asked to join the panel Supporting Adoptive Families for the Long Haul: Post-adoption Services. I’m B-string, replacing Beth Hall, who had to drop out, but am excited all the same. I’ll be coming to this panel not as a blogger, but as an adoptive mother and co-founder of a grassroots organization for adoptive families with Korean children – Korean Focus.

A group of close friends and I started Korean Focus in 1996, in response to our adoption agency’s unwillingness to allow us to conduct certain programs and bring in certain speakers under their auspices. The journey from that tiny group to Korean Focus as it exists today – chapters in Northern Maryland, Cincinnati, Seattle, and Indianapolis – and hundreds of member families across the country – hasn’t been an easy one. Tiny volunteer-driven groups like KF tend to be ignored and discounted as amateurs; and agencies are sometimes unwilling to let their families know we exist. And so we struggle to find members and volunteers, who are our lifeblood.

Yet when I look at what groups like Korean Focus have accomplished, I have to be impressed. Yes, I take a lot of personal pride in what KF has done over the past eleven years – our DC Metro chapter has a large array of programs behind us, including one of the DC area’s largest Lunar New Year celebrations, an annual event. And I see our chapters doing the same kinds of activities in their communities, too.

Plus look at what the Korean adoptee organizations have accomplished. Local groups across the country have raised awareness about the Korean adoptee experience, and have created programs and services that serve the adoptee population and adoptive families alike. They've taken their commitment to Korea, too, and have led the fight for fairness for Korean mothers. It’s nothing short of incredible.

All of which gives you an idea of what I’ll be talking about in this session on October 16.

But I’m interesting in hearing what YOU would want to discuss if you were there. Here’s the session overview – take a look. And if you can’t be there, let me know in a comment what YOU would ask if you were there.

Supporting Adoptive Families for the Long Haul: Post-adoption Services

  • What are the principal needs of adoptive families after adoption?
  • What are professionals’ obligations for the provision of post-adoption services?
  • What are professionals’ obligations when adoptions disrupt or children need mental health, residential or other services outside their adoptive homes?

    Dr. Jeanne Howard
    Carrie Kent
    Margie Perscheid
    Ellen Singer, LCSW-C


Dawn said…
Margie, I'm getting my cards tomorrow -- is there anyway I can put some in the mail to you? I don't know if they'll get there in time for the conference but I'd love it if you could share them. I started the site after talking to Sharon Roszia about the huge need for post-adoption support for open adoptions. Right now people are told open adoptions are best or (frankly) the only way to get a baby but no one tells anyone how to LIVE an open adoption. And much of the post-adoption advice assumes that openness is disposable or isn't worth working towards when there are issues. So I started the site to try to give members of the triad a place to get information about openness (including books, research, etc.) and also advice from other people who also value openness and so won't automatically say, "Why not just close the adoption?" I'd really like to get the word out to the community more because the site will only be successful with the participation of its members.
Margie said…
Yes, indeed, Dawn, I'll be happy to bring them for you. I emailed my address - and thanks for sending them!
Michelle said…
Margie, one thing that would be good for a-parents to address is lobbying the goverment for tax breaks for adoptees on search costs.

Pre-adopters receive tax credits on adoption fees, travel expenses and other fees and get incentives for adopting. The adopted person is taken form their family and of course many from their homeland, and what do they get to help them when searching for their families?

When I searched for my father, I finally gave up doing it on my own - I just couldn't find him, even with the fair amount of information I had. I paid a professional search organization $2,000 (US) to locate him. They found him in a week. I don't get to claim a portion of that cost on my taxes.

The government allowed the legal separation and sealed information that made my 20-year long search near impossible. The government allows people to adopt and gives them tax credits for this separation. Why do adoptees get nothing?

I think about adoptees whose families are overseas and how difficult those searches will be. Most searches are difficult, even domestic ones, but with overseas searches there are the added barriers of distance and language.

Last year I submitted a proposal for tax breaks to my federal government rep and she thought it was a good idea.

Something to consider.
Margie said…
Michelle, excellent points that definitely should be addressed, along with citizenship issues relative to first families.

BTW, there's an excellent section on this in "Outsider's Within," which I'm about halfway through. It's from the transnational - transracial adoption perspective, but the tax break issue is addressed and is definitely not restricted to transnational and transracial alone.
Paragraphein said…
Hey Margie, this is no help to you, it's just a question.

Like an idiot, I just sent you an email to your official adoptioninstitute email address, very official sounding, and then realized who you were and smacked my forehead. LOL. So now I've come to your blog to just ask...

Do you know what the deal is with the blogger session? I'd like to attend just that, to hear you and Jenna and Suz and Claud, et al. But I can't afford to attend the whole conference, or even one day (can't afford the money and can't afford the time off work either, frankly). But I could drive down for the blogging evening session, and I'm dying to. Do you know if that is allowed? If so, do you know if I'd need to pay a fee, and if so, what? (If I have to cough up the $162 for a full day, I guess I'll pass... but if it's a portion of that, I could probably swing it.)

I know this is sooooooooo late to be asking this. Anything you can tell me would be helpful though. Just want to hear all my blogging friends in person!


P.S. You can email me if you need to:
Paragraphein said…
Okay, and here's an actual thought for you:

My agency said they would provide lifetime post-relinquishment counseling. When it comes down to it, they actually don't, at least not at the particular office I placed through. (But that's a whole other can o' worms.) HOWEVER... the thing is, even if they WERE willing to actually give me lifetime counseling? They are not qualified for it. Statistically speaking, quite a few of us first moms DO end up with severe depression and/or PTSD--and "birth parent counselors" (generally people with bachelor's degrees in social work, from what I've seen anyway) aren't qualified nor equipped enough to help us with those issues. I really needed a doctorate-level psychologist with years of experience under his belt to actually help me with my post-adoption issues. So I'd like to see someone discuss this: the ethics and practicality of offering life-time post-relinquishment counseling to first moms, when the agency staff probably is not even qualified to address these kinds of mental health issues. IS there an alternative? What about agencies paying for counseling from someone who is qualified? I don't know and don't have the answers, but I think this is something that needs to be addressed. Of course, before agencies are willing to even address the issue, they'd have to admit there are some serious repercussions for many of us who relinquish, and that may be a while coming... I don't know... but a discussion of this issue would be nice.
Michelle said…
Thanks, Margie. Yes, it should apply to all adoptons, domestic and international.

Adoption counselling by the agency that took a mother's baby is a conflict of interest, I'd think. Agencies should be referring the mom to outside counselling long before she gives birth. But that's what they try to get her to avoid, isn't it? Once the baby is gone, they don't give a hoot about the mother, her daughter or son.
I am late joining this, as it is happening right now. I hope we hear reports of how everything went! i am particularly interested in these workshops:
Workshops: 3:45p - 5:00p
Protecting Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Ties in Transcultural/Transracial Adoption
Alternative Routes to Permanency : Is Adoption Always the Best Choice?
Adoptee Access to Records, History and Searches: Adopted People
and the “Right to Know”
Connections to Families of Origin
Supporting Adopted Persons - What Are Their Post-Placement Needs?
“Marketing” Children for Adoption : Ethical Considerations in Recruiting
and Matching
Reception and Meet the Bloggers session: 6:00p Location: Salon B, C
UNICEF - Guatemala Forum: 7:00p - 8:30p Location: Salon A
Will there be reports posted somewhere or should I just keep reading the blogs?
Julia said…
I am too late ... but I am hoping you are gonna post on how it went?!
Margie said…
Never too late, all, and thanks for your thoughts! Keep reading the blogs, for I think those who were there will be writing their impressions over the coming weeks. There was so much to absorb, there's no way I can get it out in a single post, and I'm sure the others feel the same way. It was a lot to take in, but incredibly energizing at the same time.

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