Disruption Statement

As a coalition of adoption agencies committed to the well-being of Oregon families, and advocates of infant, special needs, domestic and international adoption, we are deeply saddened by the practice of “re-homing” which was highlighted in the media by Reuters. COAA is dedicated to permanence for children and families: the continuity of relationships intended to last a lifetime, healthy parent/child attachments, and expressed commitment through the finalization of adoptions.  Re-homing is not just a crisis in international adoption; it is prevalent in every kind of adoption.

Re-homing occurs when, due to challenges that seem impassible, adoptive parents locate new families for their adopted children through informal venues such as the internet.  It is a potentially dangerous and harmful method of disruption. Re-homing differs from re-placement, when adoptive parents work with adoption agencies to engage in a legal and ethical process of finding new adoptive parents for their children. Disruptions occur for a number of reasons but at times are in the best interest of everyone involved. However, they are traumatic for parents and children and whenever a disruption occurs, grief and loss will result. Post-disruption support for families and children is essential.

Disruption may be prevented with proper support. The practice of re-homing is dangerous because it is done without the oversight of agencies and/or professionals equipped to provide such support. For these reasons, and many others, COAA takes a firm stand against the practice of re-homing and implores families that are considering this step to seek help and assistance immediately.

The following are a list of responses to re-homing from COAA’s adoption community partners:

U.S. State Department, Intercountry Adoption (link)

Evan B. Donaldson Foundation (link)

National Council for Adoption (link)

Holt International (link)

PARENT EDUCATION AND RESOURCES

There are a number of factors that may contribute to the disruption of an adoption. Although adoption agencies strive to give adoptive parents all of the information about the child they are adopting, sometimes a child’s history may lead to unknown challenges.  Adoptive parents may struggle with forming an attachment. They may have unrealistic expectations of the child’s behavior, unresolved grief or loss, or unforeseen family stressors.  Many adoptive children come to their families having experienced significant trauma and many families may not have the necessary skills or access to resources to help their children heal.  COAA supports open dialogue around such struggles in efforts to find solutions and prevent a disruption.  Families who struggle after the placement and consider disruption often experience fear, shame, guilt, vulnerability, or a crisis of faith.  These feelings frequently contribute to struggling families being reluctant to ask for assistance or guidance.  In many situations, helpful resources are available and can assist in finding long-term remedies and solutions to the challenges families and their children face. When choosing an adoption agency, families should seek agencies that exhibit understanding and empathy.  Agencies may offer to provide lifelong services or refer families to organizations that are able to meet the ongoing needs of adoptive families.

PREVENTION

COAA believes that preventative action (better preparation of children and families for adoption at each stage in the process) is crucial to averting disruptions. Child-specific recruitment, detailed assessments and home studies, guided transitions and placements, appropriate referrals and connections to services, and post-adoption supports provide the best opportunity for family success. Adoption agencies must be transparent and provide ongoing education on attachment, trauma, grief, loss and the challenges of adoption that contribute to disruption.      

STAGES OF DISRUPTION

Researchers from the University of Southern Maine identified the stages a family may go through which can lead to adoption disruption.  It is critical that families are educated on the stages of disruption, have the insight to recognize where they may be on the continuum, and openly discuss their experiences with adoption support communities or post-adoption services providers.  Communication, intervention and supportive services may make all the difference between healing a family and choosing disruption.

  1. Diminishing pleasures:  The joys of parenthood begin to be overwhelmed by the challenges.
  2. The person is the problem:  The parents want the child to change his behavior, but s/he can't or won't change. The parent may begin to publicly vocalize complaints and struggle to distinguish the behavior from the child.
  3. Turning point:  An event (perhaps frightening or dangerous behavior) leads the parents to feel they can no longer parent the child. The parents start to imagine what life would be like if the child were no longer part of the family.
  4. Deadline or ultimatumIf the child doesn't change his/her behavior or meet expectations, the parents will take steps to disrupt the adoption.[1]

Research and history indicate that if parents do not seek help in the second stage, it will be very difficult to reverse the process and disruption will likely result.  To ensure that no family reaches that point, COAA encourages all families to learn what supports are available in their community and reach out to post-adoption services when challenges begin.[2]

SEEKING SUPPORT THROUGH POST-ADOPTION SERVICES

Many COAA agencies provide post-adoption support services to their families, as well as families in the Oregon community whose agencies may no longer be open or are seeking more local resources.  COAA adoption professionals are educated on the stages of disruption, attachment, trauma, grief and loss, and available supports. Many families who are struggling qualify for counseling, financial assistance, respite care and library materials. Please review the Agency Table  to find an agency in your community that provides post-adoption services or post-disruption support.  If families have significant safety concerns contributing to their decision to consider disruption, the Oregon Department of Human Services Hotline should be contacted immediately.  


Agencies specifically providing education and post-adoption support to Oregon adoptive families include:


Adoption Mosaic
Phone: 971-533-0102
Website: www.adoptionmosaic.org

Oregon-Post Adoption Resource Center
Phone: 1-800-764-8367 or 503-241-0799
Website: www.orparc.org

Northwest Adoptive Families Association
Phone: 503-243-1356
Website: http://www.nafaonline.org

Kinship House
Phone: (503) 460-2796
Website: www.kinshiphouse.org

Center for Trust Based Parenting
Phone: 503-974-4595
Website: www.trustbasedparenting.com


Suggested national agencies with online resources for families are:


Adoption Learning Partners
http://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/

AdoptUS Kids
http://www.adoptuskids.org/

North American Council on Adoptable Children
http://www.nacac.org/

National Council for Adoption
https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/
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Garion Zaidan,
Jan 30, 2014, 11:03 AM