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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Remembering that adoption is complex

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During the celebrations and hoopla that National Adoption Month brings, it can be easy to forget or dismiss the reality that adoption is not always the fairy tale ending to a child's life. A child brings with him or her a lifetime of pre-adoption history that is often very difficult and filled with trauma.

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Trauma is not "cured" through a "forever family" alone. The adoptive or permanent family (and we must remember and acknowledge legal guardianship is also considered a permanent placement) that is best able to provide that supportive platform is one in which the child or youth's history, including trauma, grief and loss, is acknowledged and addressed.

Some children and youth continue to mourn and grieve at the same time as they embrace their adoption. This is, as many experts have acknowledged, a paradox - that one can understand the losses that adoption has brought as well as the gains.

This paradox is one that many children and youth understand very well. It is the adults in their lives - the social workers, the foster and adoptive parents, other family members, and society - that often has a harder time understanding or acknowledging this paradox.

So as we spend this month discussing the benefits of adoption, let us also be aware that there may be extra supports that children, youth and their adoptive or permanent families might need to stabilize and strengthen these placements.

Below are some resources for helping children and families:


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Resources to help families find a therapist that understands adoption is a challenge that many adoptive parents say is critically needed. Here are some resources for finding skilled therapists that understand the core issues and loss and grief involved in adoption:

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