Vol. 11, No. 1 • November 2006

A reader asks . . .

If you have a question about foster care or adoption in North Carolina, please e-mail [email protected]. We’ll do our best to respond to your question either in a direct reply or in a future issue of this newsletter.

Question: I am beginning the process of adopting a child from the foster care system. The child’s social worker has mentioned post-adoption services several times. Can you explain what these services are and how I would benefit?

Post-adoption services can assist all family members following the finalization of an agency adoption. The traumatic experiences children may have endured in their birth families, coupled with multiple placements in foster care, accentuate the importance of post-adoption services. Adoptive children who have behavioral difficulties or emotional problems place challenges on the whole adoptive family. Post-adoptive services and supports seek to reduce the risk of adoption dissolution and sustain healthy family relationships. These services can address many post-adoptive issues, such as the following:

  • Loss and grief issues
  • Understanding the social and emotional issues of adoption
  • Trust and attachment issues
  • Educational deficiencies due to multiple moves in the foster care system or other causes
  • Identity formation
  • Medical concerns, and
  • Cultural or racial issues

Adopted children often revisit these issues during each stage of their development. Post-adoption services give adoptive parents the tools and resources to deal with the adoptive child’s special needs.
Post-adoption services do not solely focus on the needs of the child. These services can also address any issues adoptive parents bring into the adoption process, such as their own loss and grief issues due to infertility or the stress of the adoption experience in itself.

There are four main categories of post-adoptive services:

  1. Educational and informational services (parenting education/training, seminars/conferences, background information on the adoptive child)
  2. Clinical services (mental health services, therapy/counseling)
  3. Material services (financial assistance, books and magazines, etc.)
  4. Support networks (adoptive parent support groups, local or regional support groups, respite care, peer support groups for adopted children)

Financial assistance in the form of adoption assistance is offered in order to finance needed services, such as tutoring, respite care, therapy, medical needs or camps. This funding comes from state and/or federal funds. Medicaid is also offered to the majority of children being adopted out of the foster care system.

Post-adoption financial assistance should be discussed with you prior to the finalization of the adoption. In order to learn about the specific supports and services in your area following the adoption, talk with your adoption worker. You can also learn more about post-adoption support in North Carolina by going to <http://www.practicenotes.org/vol10_no1.htm>. In some counties, post-adoption services are offered directly through the county department of social services. Other counties contract with private agencies to provide post-adoption services. Your family will definitely benefit from post-adoption services. These services will help sustain permanence and stability for your family!

Response by Beverley Smith, Director, NC Kids Adoption & Foster Care Network

Copyright 2006 Jordan Institute for Families