Adoption and Family Permanence
Adoption and Family Permanence
The Institute for Professional Psychology Studies is pleased to partner with Mission-Focused Solutions and its founder, Gail Johnson Vaughan, in the search for and advocacy of solutions to the ongoing challenges associated with adoption and family permanence.
Gail Johnson Vaughn
Executive Director, Mission Focused Solutions
Gail Johnson Vaughan, MA has been a child welfare advocacy professional for thirty-four years with progressive responsibility and effectiveness in increasing permanency options for children and youth in foster care. In addition, Gail consults in the areas of program and organizational development, innovative/collaborative solutions to broad-based systems problems, conflict resolution and resource development.
As a nationally-recognized expert in clinical adoption and permanency issues, Gail’s advocacy has resulted in significant improvements in the field of special needs adoption and permanency. Gail served as Executive Director for Sierra Adoption Services and is now Executive Director of Mission Focused Solutions. She is currently completing postgraduate work in psychology at IPPS’s sister institution, The Professional School of Psychology.
Adoption and Family Permanence [Literature Review]
The Need for Adoption Competency Clinical Training
- Adoption competence begins with a solid foundation of knowledge and clinical skills gained through an approved graduate program in psychiatry, psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy or counseling. Meeting the needs of individuals and families touched by adoption also requires specialized training in assessment, diagnosis and intervention. At each phase of the clinical process, therapists must be attuned to the complex array of historical and contemporary factors impacting the lives of their clients and, specifically, to the ways in which the adoption experience can influence their identity, relationships and development. (Biddle, C. & McRoy, R.)
- The interest in developing specialized clinical training in adoption has evolved over two decades as a result of the high demand for post adoption services by families and the lack of local mental health and post permanency supports that address the needs of adoptive families. (Biddle, C. & McRoy, R.i)
- Multiple research studies have found that adoptive parents consistently request that individual and family counseling be made available to them following adoption. (Barth & Miller, 2000; Casey Family Services, 2003)
- Research addressing mental health professionals’ attitudes and expectations of adoption and adopted children was published by the National Council on Adoption in March 2014. (Kriebel & Whitten, 2014) This study surveyed programs in clinical psychology, not curricula for other clinical (Post, 2000). The study found that adoption information was severely underrepresented in clinical psychology programs, with 65% of clinical psychologists unable to recall any courses addressing adoption in graduate school. Professors in doctoral-level clinical programs reported spending an average of 7.95 minutes per semester on adoption, compared to 76.82 minutes for schizophrenia, 26.36 minutes for parental death, and 22.17 minutes on dissociative identity disorder.
- Training that informs clinicians of the ways in which adoptees differ could help address some of their more negative Clinicians should know about recent research findings that indicate some of the factors leading to differing outcomes for adopted youth (e.g., age at adoption; history of maltreatment or institutionalization; prenatal experiences, etc.). (Kriebel & Whitten, 2014vx)
- National survey shows high percentage of psychologists saying they need more adoption education. Recommends that graduate programs that train future clinicians should include more information in their curricula about the unique issues that adoptees may face, while emphasizing the value of positive (Brodzinsky, 2013vi)
- Many textbooks for counseling professionals have limited coverage of adoption (Fisher, 2003, Hall & Stolley, 1997)
- Adoptive families report high levels of use of clinical post adoption services but also dissatisfaction with the clinical services provided, principally as a result of counselors’ lack of knowledge regarding unique adoptive family issues. (Smith & Howard, 1999)
- Many mental health professionals, for example, are unaware of the potential impact of adoption on clients. (McRoy, Grotevant & Zurher, 1988; Sass & Henderson, 2000)
- Given the absence of education on adoption issues, it is not surprising that many counselors report feeling unprepared to deal with adoption related issues in their practice. (Sass & Henderson, 2000ix)
- As a result of the concerns expressed by a growing number of adoptive parents, attention increasingly has focused on the need for adoption-competent child welfare and mental health professionals. Of particular interest has been the need to deepen the awareness in the academic and professional communities about issues of adoption and how it affects adopted individuals, adoptive families and birth families in fundamental ways. (Javier, 2007)
- Efforts have been developed in an attempt to ensure that clinicians receive adequate training on the salience of adoption and the issues faced by triad members. (Hartman, 1991; Pavao, 1998)
- Without quality professional training, mental health practitioners may base their knowledge on popular media or informal information and may perpetuate stereotypes regarding adoption. (Friedlander, 2003)
- Without professional or post graduate certification training, therapists may downplay or overemphasize the impact of adoption on triad members. (Rosenberg, 1992)
- A survey of 497 psychologists focusing on their contact with members of the adoption triad and their education in adoption-related issues revealed that 90% believed they and their colleagues needed more training in this ( Sass & Henderson, 2007)