Working with Adoptive Parents: Research, Theory, and Therapeutic Interventions

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Overview

Practical techniques for guiding parents through the stages of adoption and beyond

"This book makes a significant contribution to both a greater understanding of adoption and its complex dynamic constellations as well as to serving those who are or come across adoption families, many of whom count on us adoption-informed mental health professionals to clarify and facilitate the challenges they face."
—From the Foreword by Henri Parens, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Thomas ...

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Overview

Practical techniques for guiding parents through the stages of adoption and beyond

"This book makes a significant contribution to both a greater understanding of adoption and its complex dynamic constellations as well as to serving those who are or come across adoption families, many of whom count on us adoption-informed mental health professionals to clarify and facilitate the challenges they face."
—From the Foreword by Henri Parens, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson University, Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

"What most people don't know about adoption could fill a book—and this is the book. Finally sorting myth from science, Working with Adoptive Parents will give therapists, and quite a few nonprofessionals considering adoption, the real story of what it means to make this momentous choice. Better yet, it does so without letting the data speak in place of the parents themselves, in all their fear, doubt, and joy."
—Jesse Green, author of The Velveteen Father: An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood

Editors Virginia Brabender and April Fallon are clinical psychologists and also adoptive parents whose families are acquainted with both the uncertainty and joy of adoption. In Working with Adoptive Parents, they offer an in-depth treatment of the distinctive needs, feelings, impulses, expectations, and conflicts that adoptive parents experience through the stages of adoption and beyond. This volume offers a comprehensive picture of adoption through an exploration of the experiences and developmental processes of the adoptive parent.

Featuring contributions from mental health professionals whose careers have focused on work with families through the adoption process, this unique book:

  • Covers the theory, research, and practice of adoptive parenting throughout the life cycle
  • Explores the issues unique to the adoptive mother and adoptive father as they traverse the stages of parenting
  • Offers a close look at families with special needs children
  • Acknowledges and explores the great diversity among adoptive families and the kinship networks in which they are embedded
  • Examines attachment issues between adoptive parent and child

Providing a framework for therapists to conceptualize their work with adoptive parents, Working with Adoptive Parents clarifies and facilitates the journey that many of these families face.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"This book makes a significant contribution to both a greater understanding of adoption and its complex dynamic constellations as well as to serving those who are or come across adoption families, many of whom count on us adoption-informed mental health professionals to clarify and facilitate the challenges they face."
From the Foreword by Henri Parens, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson University, Training & Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

"What most people don't know about adoption could fill a book – and this is the book. Finally sorting myth from science, Working with Adoptive Parents will give therapists, and quite a few nonprofessionals considering adoption, the real story of what it means to make this momentous choice. Better yet, it does so without letting the data speak in place of the parents themselves, in all their fear, doubt, and joy."
Jesse Green, author of The Velveteen Father: An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood

"With adoption, including those that across international boundaries, on the rise, the salutary impact of human kindness as well the tragic potential for developmental complications has greatly increased. Brabender and Fallon, the editors of this well-organized volume, are keenly aware of this. They have cast their net wide and brought together the perspectives of attachment theory, empirical research, and clinical experiences to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by adoptive parents. Conceptually rich and yet unabashedly pragmatic, their book addresses the issues of parent-child bonding, the subjective dilemmas of adoptive mothers, the role of adoptive fathers, and parenting children with special health care needs. Attention is also given to the specific tasks involving the adoption of very young children as well as to the resurgence of difficulties during adopted children's adolescence. This wide-ranging discourse consistently maintains a tone of respect, concern, and shared humanity of all of us. A most impressive contribution to the adoption literature indeed!"
Salman Akhtar, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

"This book is a tour de force, a must read for all involved in the world of adoption. A comprehensive history of adoption, including current controversies, sets the stage. Every chapter is a gem, but contributions on research to inform best practices, the role of the adoptive father, diversity, and adoption of children with special health care needs, help fill significant gaps in the adoption literature. Rich clinical material and the practical points summarized throughout, demonstrate the wisdom of seasoned practitioners."
Jennifer Bonovitz, PhD, Supervising and Training Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

"This volume is a major contribution to our understanding of adoptive parenting. The book is thorough, full of helpful insights, case studies, and perspectives on the complicated dance involved for adoptive parents and their children. The portrait of adoptive parenting is both hopeful and realistic, and is framed with thoughtful attention to what we actually know from careful research. This book should be a helpful guide and resource for both mental health professionals and adoptive parents."
Sam Osherson, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University, Cambridge, MA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118109120
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/10/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 293
  • Sales rank: 1,463,065
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

VIRGINIA M. BRABENDER, PhD, diplomate in clinical psychology (ABPP) and APA Fellow, is a professor at the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology at Widener University. She is the past president of the Society for Personality Assessment.

APRIL E. FALLON, PhD, is a member of the psychology faculty at Fielding Graduate University and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine. She has received numerous awards for her teaching of psychiatric medical residents and was awarded the 2012 Psychiatric Educator Award by the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

About the Editors xxiii

Contributors xxv

Chapter 1 Setting the Stage: The Adoptive Parent in Context 1
Virginia M. Brabender and April E. Fallon

Characteristics of Adoptive Parents 2

Serving the Needs of Adoptive Parents 5

History of Adoption 8

Contemporary Controversies 16

Practical Points 20

Conclusions 21

Chapter 2 Theoretical Contributions to the Understanding of Parent-Child Bonding in Adoption 23
April E. Fallon and Barbara L. Goldsmith

Before the Family Becomes a Unit: Daniel Stern and Intrapsychic Reorganization 23

The Case of Dora 25

Bowlby and the Importance of Secure Attachment in Healthy Development 26

The Parallel Caregiving System: Contributions of George and Solomon 28

Ego Psychology and the Significance of Adaptation 32

Contributions of D. W. Winnicott 33

Kohut and the Development of Self-Esteem 37

Mentalization: Holding the Adopted Child in Mind 38

Separation-Individuation and the Contributions of Margaret Mahler 41

Practical Points 43

Conclusions 44

Chapter 3 Using Research to Inform Best Practices in Working With Adoptive Families 45
Hal S. Shorey, Sanjay R. Nath, and Meridith Carter

The History of Research on Attachment and Parent-Child Interactions 46

Research on Adoption 50

Attachment-Based Interventions for Use in Adoption 56

The Circle of Security 57

Practical Points 59

Conclusion 59

Chapter 4 The Adoptive Mother 61
Virginia M. Brabender, Amanda Swartz, Mary Winzinger, and April E. Fallon

The Eras of Adoptive Motherhood 61

Adolescence 80

Practical Points 84

Conclusion 85

Chapter 5 The Adoptive Father 87
Rao Gogineni and April E. Fallon

Important Role Functions of the Father 87

Becoming and Being an Adoptive Father 92

Practical Points 103

Conclusion 104

Chapter 6 Recognizing Diversity in Adoptive Families 105
Virginia M. Brabender, April E. Fallon, Alicia Padovano, and Phil Rutter

Identity Variables Within the Addressing Framework 106

Family Structure 125

Practical Points 127

Conclusion 127

Chapter 7 Adoption of Children With Special Health Care Needs 131
S. Ileana Lindstrom, Sonia Voynow, and Bret A. Boyer

Three Approach Classes 132

Comparison to Children in the General Population 134

Disruption of Adoption for Children With SHCN 134

Who Are the Families Who Adopt These Children? 135

Commitment 135

Preparation 137

Coping and Stress 140

Existential Issues 142

Posttraumatic Stress 142

Ambiguous Loss 143

Posttraumatic Growth 144

Marital Satisfaction 145

Practical Points 145

Conclusion 147

Chapter 8 Parenting the Young Child 149
Elaine Frank and Denise Rowe

Ghosts in Adoptive Families 149

Intervention With Adoptive Families: Developmental Guidance, Parent-Child Groups, and Parent-Child Therapy 153

Parenting Cornerstones for Adoptive Families 156

Enhancing the Parent-Child Relationship in Adoptive Families: Developing an Adoption Dialogue 163

Practical Points 168

Conclusion 168

Chapter 9 Adoptive Parenting of Teenagers and Young Adults 169
Joseph White

Developmental Themes of Adolescence and Early Adulthood 169

Individuation, Independence, and the Adoptive Parent-Child Relationship 172

Insights for Parents and Therapists 174

Identity Formation in International, Transcultural, and Transracial Adoptees 177

Practical Points 180

Conclusions 180

Chapter 10 Therapeutic Interventions With Adopted Children and Adoptive Parents: A Psychoanalytic Developmental Approach 181
Theodore Fallon Jr.

Introduction 181

Development of the Human Mind 181

Therapeutic Intervention in a Psychoanalytic Developmental Approach 182

Parent Problems and Child Problems in the Context of a Psychoanalytic Developmental Approach 182

Intergenerational Transmission of the Human Mind—The Missing Link 184

Evaluating the Parent-Child Dyad 185

Practical Points 194

Conclusion 194

Chapter 11 Adoptive Parent as Consultant, Educator, and Advocator 195
Virginia M. Brabender and Toni Whitmore

The Roots of Problems Facing Adoptive Parents 197

Action Implications 200

Practical Points 210

Conclusions 211

Chapter 12 Meeting the Needs of Adoptive Parents: Practice, Training, and Research 213
Patricia G. Ramsey, Virginia M. Brabender, and April E. Fallon

Practice 213

Training 223

Research 228

Practical Points 231

Conclusions 231

References 233

Author Index 271

Subject Index 281

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  • Posted December 4, 2014

    I love the cover of this book.  As a child of an open adoption t

    I love the cover of this book.  As a child of an open adoption the braiding imagery on the cover is a wonderful representation of the blending of families that I experienced. 
    One thing that struck me about this book is that it provides a blunt assessment of raising an adopted child, yet stays on point.  Many books focus on the problems that children who are adopted go through and how to deal with them but only give what I consider lip service to the rewards or they gloss over the struggles.  This book manages to discuss the problems that families can face in a respectful way.
    At first glance this book could seem intimidating to someone without a background in psychology, it has lots of references; the way that these references are presented however quickly dissipates those fears.  All studies are explained with enough detail to make them understandable, but not so much that they become the focus of the book.  This book is both for clinicians as well as laypeople interested in adoption.
    Chapter 1 
    This chapter is very well written, it gives the blunt look into adoption that I was hoping for.  Adoption is not easy but it can be rewarding.  Prospective parents need to be able to have a discussion within their families as well as with their therapists.  One of the points that really resonated with me personally was the discussion of how adopted children are in therapy more not because they are more “messed up” than non-adopted children but because “adopted parents seem to have a greater receptivity to psychological interventions.” (p5)  This chapter sets up the direction the book is headed and also does acknowledge areas where more research is needed.
    Chapter 2-3
    These chapters focus on attachment and the development of a person.  These subjects can be intimidating but their presentation is very welcoming.  The theories explained in this also chapter prepare the readers for the rest of the book.  Clinicians will be familiar with many of the theories in this section, but if they don’t focus on child or family therapy they will likely find the clearly-written refresher very beneficial.
    Chapter 4-5
    The focus of these chapters is on the parents.  The first part is on the relationship of the primary care giver (in this case the mother).  There are lots of conflicting feelings that a woman experiences before and during an adoption.  These can affect the mother-child relationship and need to be addressed.  Some of the feelings could be considered shameful and this book normalizes these feelings.  The next chapter focuses on the Father a truly under-represented family member in all family studies.  I wish this chapter talked a little more about his struggles but due to the lack of information on the subject it is understandable.  
    Chapter 6
    This is the chapter that had my only criticism of the book.  It focused on the different kinds of families that adopt including GLBT and how this can change the dynamics of the family.  The discussion of the sibling constellation does not go into the relationship that forms when 2 or more children are adopted from different families and at different times.  My personal experience was closer to a combination of the two relationships presented in this book.  I would like to see this expanded on in a second edition.
    Chapter 7
    Chapter seven spoke about the different levels of preparedness that families experience prior to adopting a child with special needs.  I feel like this is an important subject, as many people seem to think that being prepared is either something you are or are not.  This breaks down the different reactions that parents have to adopting a special needs child and provides resources that parents can use.  It also offers a soothing acknowledgement of the fact that it is hard to parent a child with special needs and the difficulties do not make the parent a bad parent.
    Chapter 8-9
    The division of this part of the book into different lifetimes was well done.  It makes a good point that physical age is only so important, what really matters is the child’s developmental stage.  These chapters offer attention to the important issue that a child’s desire to have a relationship with their birthfamily is not necessarily a rejection of their family.
    Chapter 10
    In this section the authors offered an analogy of a tree to explain growth and development.  This is the best analogy for a child that I have read.  It is perfect for both clinicians and for parents to explain the way that a child’s nature and environment come together to form their growth.
    Chapter 11
    Advocacy is important as there are many misconceptions of adoption, but even more important is making sure the child is comfortable with their parents’ level of advocacy.  The other important thing that this chapter emphasizes is that just because a child is adopted does not mean that their entire life is defined by that.  Adoption is one aspect of a person’s life and the level that they are impacted by it can vary.
    Chapter 12
    The Authors used longer vignettes than the rest of the book and it was done with good effect.  They discussed the changes that happen in a family over time and how important it is to adapt the methods of assistance to their current situation.  Adoption focused therapy might be what a person needs at one point of their life but at a different point what they need is a support group.
    Final thoughts 
    Overall this was a very well put together book.  I feel like it’s a great start for clinicians who are working with families considering adoption or who have an adopted child.  This book is also great for any non-clinician who is interested in learning more about adoption.  The number of sources cited makes this a great resource for anyone who is interested in adoption. 

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