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May 2006Vol. 7, No. 4Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services

Adoption preservation services may be crucial to families who experience difficulties with their children's behavior or adjustment after adoption. A recent qualitative study explored the experiences of parents who adopted from the child welfare system in Illinois and received adoption preservation services. In response to open-ended survey questions, these parents reported on both the challenges they faced and the benefits of receiving services.

Challenges that prompted these families to seek adoption preservation services included issues related to anger, antisocial behavior, attachment disruption, and family stability. In response, these families received home-based, intensive therapeutic intervention with clinical social workers. Parents and children also participated in support groups.

When asked about the benefits of adoption preservation, parents identified three aspects of the services:

  • The nontraditional manner in which the services were provided, namely, that the services were free, provided in the home, and offered outside of traditional business hours
  • Specific treatment issues and activities, including the therapist's understanding of the grief and identity issues associated with adoption, dealing with attachment issues, and advocating for additional services
  • The therapeutic relationship with the worker, who was seen as empathic, sensitive, and a good listener

Many of the parents also reported that the services not only helped them understand their child's behavior, but they also effected a real change in the child's behavior. These services often were successful when traditional counseling services had failed to help.

The study, "Investing in Adoptive Families: What Adoptive Families Tell Us Regarding the Benefits of Adoption Preservation Services," by D. L. Zosky, J. A. Howard, S. L. Smith, A. M. Howard, and K. H. Shevlin, is available in Adoption Quarterly, Volume 8(3), or by visiting the Haworth Press website:

Related Items

Children's Bureau Express addressed postadoption services in two previous articles:

  • "Intensive Family Preservation in Postadoption" (September 2005)
  • "Postadoption Services Improve Family Stability and Functioning" (November 2004)