As an adoption social worker in central California, I’ve had the privilege to witness firsthand the joy that comes with adopting internationally. As an adoptive parent myself, I’ve also experienced the adoption process from all angles. The paperwork, the waiting, the uncertainty, the meetings, parenting…
It all takes a lot of time, effort, patience and, quite frankly, work.
Sometimes, when we parent an adopted child, love is not enough to conquer all. Sometimes we need help. We need someone to bounce ideas off of, help us navigate this new terrain, offer a new perspective or shed light on educational components that we may have missed. Sometimes we just need someone to help us sort out what is an adoption issue and what is a regular developmental issue. And sometimes, we just need someone to hear us and tell us that we are doing OK.
Holt has a longstanding and very effective post-adoption and clinical services team. But recently, we asked ourselves, how else could we help families navigate their daily struggles — struggles that may not require the help of a clinical social worker? And how could we help families who might not have access to an adoption-competent professional in their area?
Some months ago, we began brainstorming the type of service we could offer families who just want or need a little extra support. We realized that many adoptive parents struggle with adoption-related issues that could be successfully addressed without going to therapy or counseling, but instead with education and support from an adoption professional. As a result of these conversations, we launched Holt’s Post–Adoption Coaching & Education (PACE) program.
While many resources exist to educate adoptive families on typical adoption challenges, there are limited opportunities for families to actually interact with the material in a meaningful way. Through this new program, a PACE professional — in most cases a social worker like myself — will provide direction and resources such as books or videos to help families implement new strategies for dealing with a certain issue. This program provides an adoption-competent Holt professional to walk with each family while they put their knowledge into practice. Because, as we all know, it’s much more difficult to implement a strategy than it is to simply learn the theory behind it.
One of our goals for the PACE program is to let families know they are not alone. We are well aware that adoption has lifelong implications and we are here to support both the adoptee and their family through the various stages and development of their lives and relationships. We want to provide families with real-life tools and skills that will help them strengthen their day-to-day interactions, leading to a stronger family foundation.
In May, we decided to soft-launch this pilot program — sending one email to Holt’s post-adoptive families that introduced this new program and asked for eight families to volunteer. Within 24 hours, we had over 90 responses! The message was clear: families need support. And for us, this level of feedback solidified the need for PACE to step in and provide services to families who are asking for help.
So where are we now? We currently have over 30 families enrolled in PACE and participating in sessions. Some of the issues we are currently providing services for include:
- Sibling rivalry
- Birth country visits
- Sleep issues
- Specific behavioral issues
- Sexual issues
- Birth family
- Genetic testing
Current families enrolled in PACE have been home with their adopted children as little as six months and as long as 27 years. The children come from a variety of countries and have vastly different backgrounds, experiences and challenges. What we are learning is that families in all stages, and at all ages, need and want support.
Once they completed the program, we asked a few families whether they would recommend this program to others. Here are a couple of their responses:
“Yes. This was such a powerful program. Rich resources and support from someone who has walked the walk. No judgment over issues we face and so much compassion.”
“Absolutely. The PACE program refreshed and encouraged us… It grounded us back to the basics and focused (us) on what is most important right now.”
So how can the PACE program help you? An adoption-competent Holt professional will work with you to:
- Set goals that address a current issue.
- Explore and learn from educational resources.
- Put those resources into practice as a family.
Carolyn Cain | PACE Supervisor
Receive Post Adoption Coaching & Education
All parents encounter challenges as their children grow up. And sometimes, issues may arise that leave you uncertain as to how best to respond. But not every issue requires therapy or counseling. The PACE program is here to help during those times.