Post Adoption Support

Home / Post Adoption Support

POST ADOPTION SUPPORT

ADOPTION IS A LIFELONG JOURNEY WITH UNIQUE CHALLENGES

FROM DR PATRICIA FRONEK, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY

EVERY JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT

Every adoptee is unique and has their own story to tell. Their views on intercountry adoption are as diverse as their experiences. At the same time, adoptees share many things and the connections with other adoptees and the support from these connections are valuable and important.

THE ADOPTEE EXPERIENCE

Adoptees’ need for support is varied and arises at different times in their lives for different people. It is important to state at the outset that the need for post adoption support is not an indictment on adoptive parenting because issues can arise at different ages regardless of whether the adoption experience was positive or negative.

The act of adoption itself raises questions about family, culture, race and racism, identity, belonging and, in particular, access to accurate information about their adoptions, and searching and meeting parents and other family members in their countries of birth featured strongly.

Certainly, unhappy adoptive experiences heightened feelings of difference while happy experiences and good parenting helped adoptees deal better with these issues as they grew into adulthood. One of the important issues that adoptees raised remains unrecognised – the reality that adoptees are adults and can speak for themselves.

Parents, governments and practitioners must resist treating adoptees as ‘perpetual children’ as noted by Korean adoptee researcher, Jessica Walton. Adoptees have their own voice – dismissing, labelling and excluding them from authoring their own lives and contributing to policy and practice is harmful. After all, intercountry adoption is supposed to be all about adoptees so their voices and experiences should be at the forefront of policy making and the development of post-adoption supports.

THE AREAS OF SUPPORT CONSIDERED THE MOST USEFUL AND NEEDED INCLUDE:

CONNECTIONS TO OTHER ADOPTEES
This was identified as the most helpful source of support by the adoptees in our research. Many stumbled across adoptee groups in early adulthood and found access to information about other adoptees hard to find, making groups like KAIAN vitally important. Groups, generated and led by adoptees, were considered essential.

COUNSELLING
Many adoptees identified the need to access counselling, particularly in moments of uncertainty, change, self-doubt and the negotiation of complex and at times contradictory feelings, particularly by qualified professionals who understood intercountry adoption and did not automatically interpret struggles as a problem within adoptees themselves and who did not have their own stake in the adoption process.

PRACTICAL, RELEVANT AND CURRENT INFORMATION
The search for accurate information and connections to families and their countries of birth were important issues and one where adoptees felt very much on their own. Services that help adoptees negotiate with authorities, and adoption agencies in Australia and in their countries of birth are sorely needed.

How information was shared, preparation for the emotional experience of reunion and cultural differences, and support during the process were named as significant gaps. The discovery that birth and adoption information was inaccurate or false was a common experience for older and younger adoptees from a range of countries including South Korea.

Because of this, adoptees want governments to demand more transparent adoption processes, more accurate records to be kept in both sending and receiving countries, better relinquishment processes and DNA testing for relinquishment and searching purposes.

GREATER ATTENTION ON RACISM
Overt racism and everyday racism was a common experience from childhood into adulthood. Adoptees would like greater attention by schools, families and governments to issues of race and racism.

Communication with parents was important but even where there was the highest level of support and understanding in adoptive families, it was still difficult for some adoptees to disclose and articulate how they felt about adoption issues for a range of reasons including protecting the feelings of adoptive parents.

The most unhelpful situations were those where adoptees felt they were expected to feel grateful or lucky with regards to their adoption by others because adoption involves significant losses and well as material and other gains. Overall adoptees in our study were uniquely individual, resilient and in charge of their lives. They shared as much as they differed and for most found a community of mutual understanding with each other.

Start typing and press Enter to search