Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Open Adoption as a Protective Factor for Adoptees

Another excerpt from an assignment last semester which applies to adoption: 
Competency #2- Critically evaluate the current research evidence on how adoptive families fare.
Statistics show (DeAngelis, 1995a)- p. 284, Ashford text, that about 25% of adoptive children, compared with 15% of non-adoptive children, require clinical intervention for severe behavioral problems.  However, an adoption researcher from Rutgers University who has been studying adoption for more than 20 years reported that 75-80% of adopted children are within the “normal” psychological range.
Researchers at the Search Institute in Minneapolis conducted a study of 181 adopted adolescents and found that “most of the teens were functioning within the normal mental health range” and the teens described themselves as attached to their parents.  It was also found that in the case of open adoptions, adopted children who maintained contact with their birth mothers weren’t confused about their parents’ identity- they still view their adoptive mother as their mother and view their birth mother more as more of an aunt or friend.

How does understanding this competency apply to my own personal development?

 I have three children and all of them are adopted so I was very interested in this research.  I readily admit that I am totally guilty of over-analyzing my children’s mental health [particularly their neurocognitive development as at least two of my children were exposed to drugs in utero] and to a lesser degree, their physical health, and wondering, “How much of this is due to genetics and how much is due to their environment?”  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to stop speculating about the “why’s” but focus my energy on seeking the earliest possible professional interventions, if necessary,  and advocating for any special needs they might have.
How does understanding this competency apply to social work practice in general?
Adopted children are most often referred to for clinical treatment for acting out & aggression at about 5-7 years of age because this is an age where they are beginning to understand that they’ve lost their birth family.  It’s imperative for social workers to understand that no matter how awesome an adopted child’s adoptive family is, adoptees will have to sort through issues of grief and loss.  David Brodkinsky, the adoption researcher from Rutgers I mentioned earlier, found that the coping styles of adoptive families affected the experiences of their adopted children: those whose families engaged in an assistance-seeking style of coping did much better than those with an avoidant style of coping.  This knowledge is very helpful so that social workers can aid in helping adoptive families model affective ways to process grief and loss.

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