Topic 5: Lesbian and Gay Families /// Adoption and Foster Placement (by 10/10)

There are three readings due this week – Text Chapters 7 & 8 and Triseliotis and Hill (1990).  Address the following two discussion points:  (1) Research shows that the mental-social health of children of gay/lesbian parents do not differ from heterosexuals. However, there are some that have differing opinions about what they think is the best family dynamic for raising children.  What are some potential ways a therapist can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment?  (2) Adoption can be a very rewarding and challenging process, for both children and families.  What are some risk factors and potential positive outcomes associated with adoption?  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 10/10.  Have your two replies no later than 10/12.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kirsten Chirichetti
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 23:50:25

    (1) Although a convergence of studies over three decades suggests that the mental and social health of children of lesbian and gay parents does not differ significantly from those of other children in heterosexual families, many people still believe that homosexuality is detrimental to children (Walsh, 2003). This specific group of individuals feel that children of gay and lesbian parents will themselves become gay or lesbian in the future and that the daughters from homosexual parents will be more masculine and the sons more feminine than children from “normal” heterosexual families. These different opinions about what is the best family dynamic for raising children may create a “non-accepting” environment for gay and lesbian parents. For this reason, it is important that therapists have several different ways that they can support gay and lesbian parents living in a “non-accepting” environment. One way that a counselor can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment is to educate the couple about what current research has found regarding children in gay families. As noted above, there is no research that has found that children from gay/lesbian parents have poorer mental-social health outcomes. By informing gay parents of what the research actually has found, it may confirm, re-affirm, and increase the couple’s confidence in their parenting abilities. In addition, another way a therapist can support gay/lesbian parents is to pinpoint some strengths associated with homosexual relationships, which can consequently positively impact the family dynamic. Some of these strengths of homosexual relationships include the outstanding feature of egalitarianism (i.e., a relatively equal division of labor inside and outside the home), which can promote a couple’s well-being and cohesion (leading to greater happiness in the family), the fusion (intense intimacy and togetherness) in lesbian relationships that can allow the emotional needs of the couple to be more likely met through the relationship as opposed through the children, and the fact that many homosexual relationships/families are not structured along patriarchal lines, with no rigid, sex-linked role divisions that circumscribe the potentials of the male and female children (Walsh, 2003). Moreover, another way a therapist can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment is to help the couple locate and identify a network of supportive people in their lives (aside from the counselor). It is critical that same-sex parents have some level of support from family, friends, or individuals in the community that they can look to for assistance and care. Even if the family and friends of gay/lesbian parents are “non-accepting,” the therapist should be knowledgeable of community LGBT resources and direct the couple to them. These resources can provide the same-sex couple with peer support, giving them an outlet to express their parenting concerns and problems to individuals experiencing similar circumstances, along with an opportunity for their children to interact with other children of gay/lesbian parents. Furthermore counselors can support gay/lesbian parents who are living in “non-accepting” environments by engaging in conversations with them about how there is not a universal definition of “normal,” and that this construct is unique to each individual family’s structure and needs. It is also essential that therapists working with gay/lesbian parents continue to be open-minded and un-biased. They should be sensitive to their own personal opinions/preferences on family dynamics and the cultural, sexist, heterosexist, and other stereotypes that could influence their interactions with the gay/lesbian parents.

    (2) Although all families face several challenges as they move through their life course, adoptive families experience several additional risks as a function of the unique circumstances of adoption. One risk factor associated with adoption is the possibility of the child failing to develop a secure attachment with the adopted parent or the interruption of an established parent-child attachment. Research has shown that children placed in adoption after 12 months may be at risk for attachment problems and development difficulties, including the experience of acute separation distress as a result of the severing of previous attachment relationships (Bowlby, 1973; Yarrow & Goodwin, 1973; Yarrow, Goodwin, Manheimer, & Milowe, 1973, as cited in Walsh, 2003). In addition to these difficulties with attachment, another risk factor associated with adoption is the experience of loss by both adoptive parents and children and the ability of the family to learn to cope with the inevitable losses associated with adoption. Children adopted after infancy may lose relationships with their birth parents, siblings, and extended family, along with secondary losses of friends, pets, toys, foods, customs, and familiar surroundings. Moreover, adoptive parents may also experience some sense of loss such as the loss of an earlier relationship with a birth or hoped-for birth child, the loss of status in the eyes of some people, and the loss of the biological community (Walsh, 2003). If adoptive parents and children are unable to effectively cope with these losses, family members may have difficulty forming attachments with one another, leading to less family satisfaction. Furthermore another risk factor associated with adoption is the challenge for children to understand and comprehend adoption, and the possible behaviors that can result from this knowledge. As adopted children begin to develop through the various stages of life (preschool, elementary school, adolescence, adulthood), parents begin to inform them that they are adopted and the children start to have ideas about what this means, why it happened, how, etc. This information can be beneficial (i.e., providing children answers about their biological parents, a sense of relief, etc.) but it can also cause challenges in the family. Some challenges include adopted children testing limits as an expression of their wish or fear of being returned or given up, teens making criticisms and comments about the adequacy of their parents’ parenting skills, and a continuing feeling of dissimilarity felt by the adoptees (Walsh, 2003). It also can be problematic if the child first learns about his or her adoption from another family member. In these situations, adopted children may experience a sense that the family was keeping a secret or felt shame about the issue, which is why they did not tell him or her about the adoption. Another risk factor associated with adoption involves the stigma surrounding adoption that it is a less desirable way to create a family. Similarly, in society, there remain biases that view adoption as a “deficiency,” with many individuals commenting about how “fortunate the child is” or how “wonderful” the adoptive parents are for taking in another’s child (Walsh, 2003). Everyday adopted children may experience this stigma and therefore it is important that parents tell those individuals working with their family (i.e., extended family members, close friends, and professionals that touch the child’s life) about the child’s adoptive status to prevent possible distress.
    Despite these risk factors, however, there are also many potential positive outcomes associated with adoption. One positive outcome associated with adoption is that in adulthood, children who are adopted appear to have a stronger sense of self and function more adequately at the personal, social, and economic level compared to those who were placed in a foster family or cared for in residential institutions. In a comparative study, 124 adults who had either been adopted, fostered with families, or grew up in residential care were asked to complete a semi-structured questionnaire and interviews about their past experiences and current circumstances. They were also asked to complete a number of self-rating scales to elicit additional information on their subjective experiences and feeling states. The results of this study found that adults who were adopted as children (and to a somewhat lesser extent those formerly fostered) reported more intimate, consistent, caring, and closer attachments to their caregivers compared with those who grew up in residential establishments (Triseliotis & Hill, 1990). In addition, the adoptive placement provided these individuals a strong sense of belonging and a strong identification with the adoptive family, with only 15% of adoptees expressing dissatisfaction with their growing up experience mainly for unreasonable expectations by their adoptive parents. Moreover adults who were adopted during childhood reported higher levels of self-esteem, emotional well-being, ability for form relationships, skills to cope with life’s demands/carry out parenting roles, and current life satisfaction compared with individuals who had grown up in residential care. Overall, adults who had been adopted during childhood experienced a greater sense of identity, security, and continuity of care (Triseliotis & Hill, 1990). Another positive outcome associated with adoption is that children placed in adoption have a greater potential for reversing earlier adverse experiences than children in foster or residential care. In a research study involving 52 children between the ages of 9 and 18, the transition from family foster care to adoption with the same families was evaluated. The children were interviewed and asked questions regarding whether it mattered to those in long-term foster care to be adopted and if so, why. The results found that many of the children knew the difference between foster care and adoption, associating “permanence,” “being their forever,” and “being part of the family” with adoption (Triseliotis & Hill, 1990). Furthermore, many of the children in the study identified that an adoption order was a symbolic act creating a deep, satisfying psychological feeling for them (i.e., a sense of security, belonging, and the right as part of the family). Finally, findings from the study found that early adverse experiences (i.e., psychological trauma) of adopted children can be “faded away” with the opportunity to form new positive attachments with others (Triseliotis & Hill, 1990). Another potential positive outcome of adoption is that it may remove children from previous dangerous/unsafe home environments. Many children who are placed in adoption come from families that experience high levels of stress, violence, conflict, antisocial behavior, etc. For this reason, adoption may provide these children the opportunity to feel safe and to escape a dangerous environment that could potentially impede their development. These potential positive outcomes are important for the optimal physical, emotional, and social well-being and functioning of adoptee adults.

    Reply

    • Amanda Thomas
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 16:37:45

      Kirsten- I like how you included the strengths that homosexual relationships encompass. More specifically, egalitarianism. I think this is an concept to strive for across many domains. In regard to homosexual relationships, egalitarianism fosters greater connectivity among family members.

      Reply

    • Katrina Mitchell
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 16:48:50

      Kirsten,
      I appreciate the way you highlight how a “non-accepting” environment is created surrounding gay or lesbian parents. It’s important for therapists to understand not only their own values and beliefs in raising their children but also what gives them the feeling of unacceptance within their community. Some parents may face judgment from one or two neighbors but others may feel the repercussions of similar judgment among parents at their children’s school, community organizations, extra curricular activities, or religious events. Therefore, it’s significant to consider where parents are sensing feelings of a “non-accepting” environment.

      Reply

    • Brandon Pare
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 18:40:51

      Kristen,
      I like how you mentioned the different stereotypes that gay and lesbians will have to potentially face in the community they live in and also that part of working with these couples is to psychoeducate them in. They need to know these ahead of time as well as the research that has been done to contradict these stereotypes. This way it could help them feel some sort of support and justification as they continue to work to overcome any harassment they may face.

      Reply

  2. Julianna Aguilar
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 09:48:07

    Many people believe that children of gay and lesbian parents are at a higher risk for experiencing social and emotional difficulties throughout their life. However, research does not support this argument (Walsh, 2003). Nonetheless, this perception increases stigmatization of this population which then leads to discrimination of these children and their families. This discrimination can be pervasive in many cultures and can cause significant emotional distress. Some ways therapists may be able to help the parents of these children is by using psychoeducation and cognitive restructuring regarding the way they view their family experience. First, it could be very important to educate these parents about the present research on this topic. That is, though public opinion may be that these children suffer consequences that children of heterosexual parents do not, evidence proves otherwise. By providing this evidence, these parents will be better able to reassure themselves that they are good parents and have done nothing that might complicate their child’s development simply by being homosexual. Second, it could be useful to help these parents redefine the construct of “normal.” As we have discussed in class, no families are “normal,” and it is important for these parents to understand optimal functioning in the context of their family’s unique experiences, not under the definition that society has prescribed. Similarly, Walsh (2003) states that “although gay culture is frequently contrasted to American ‘heterosexual’ culture, to adopt gay symbols, to join gay organizations, to identify to self and other as gay is not to abandon American culture. Heterosexuals do not ‘own’ American culture” (p. 186). This statement struck me as particularly interesting in that it is important not to subscribe to what we think others expect from us, but rather to integrate our own values and beliefs into the existing culture to broaden its definition. By helping parents understand the uniqueness of each individual family unit, they can hopefully create an environment that is functional for them and inclusive of their lifestyle and traditions.

    Adoption is a very challenging process that is complicated by additional risk factors for transitioning and parenting, but rewarding due to the many potential positive outcomes for the families and children. To start, significant risk factors for adoptive families include insecure parent-child attachment style, inabilities to cope with loss, and possible racial and ethnic differences. First, research has shown that children who are placed with adoptive families after 12 months of age are at higher risk for developing an insecure attachment to their parents. Children who are adopted before they turn one year old, on the other hand, tend to develop a secure attachment style with their parents (Walsh, 2003). However, even these children will begin to question their identity generally beginning at eight years of age. Therefore, though age alone is an important factor for predicting healthy attachment styles, other factors such as issues that arise at different developmental levels must be considered as well. Closely connected to the issue of attachment is the idea of loss that looms in these families. One of the many issues surrounding the larger concept of “loss” is that parents may still be grieving the inability to care for a biological child, and may feel that the child’s biological family is a threat. For this reason, they may provide the child with minimal information about his or her birth family, thus increasing the child’s sense of loss which interferes with the development of a secure attachment. Finally, another important risk factor in more recent adoption practices is integrating racially or ethnically different backgrounds together. Many parents have chosen to adopt children of a different race or ethnicity, both from their home country and internationally. Issues may arise when the family does not embrace the child’s origins, therefore inhibiting the child’s ability to fully develop his or her identity. In contrast, many children will develop normally when their parents create a sense of common values and identity between them and the child, while still accepting and embracing their differences.

    Though there are many risk factors associated with adoption, the positive experiences and outcomes of the child and family should not be overlooked. For example, two positive outcomes I found interesting were the experience of special needs children and creating a permanent home. First, Walsh (2003) points out that adoptive parents of children with special needs (e.g., physical disabilities) do not feel a sense of responsibility for the disability as birth parents often do, and are able to better prepare themselves psychologically for this child’s arrival. Second, Triseliotis and Hill (1990) highlight the importance, from the child’s perspective, of the sense of permanence, both physically and legally, that adoption provides as compared to foster care and institutions. Children stated that adoption meant “‘ being part of a family…being there forever…[and that] no one can remove you,”’ among other similar comments. In addition, they added that adoption is “‘something permanent by law”’ (p. 113-114). This feeling of permanence coupled with the legality associated with the process fosters a sense of a stable environment for the child and gives them a better chance for optimal development. Overall, adoption is associated with numerous risk factors, yet marked by many positive outcomes that these children may have otherwise not had the opportunity to experience.

    Reply

    • Amanda Thomas
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 17:44:21

      Julianna- I like that you mentioned that adoption entails permanence for the adopted child. A stable environment is something that a child can depend on, is predictable, and provides a sense of security. Stability is essential in achieving optimal development.

      Reply

    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 00:20:14

      In regards to risk factors related to adoption, I think that it is very important, Julianna, that you brought up the practice of integrating racially or ethnically different backgrounds together. When families adopt from other countries, it is critical that they embrace part of the child’s original culture. I feel that adopted parents should not try to push or force their culture, beliefs, and values on the child. Instead, especially with young children, adopted parents should make them aware of their culture of origin, educating them on some of the critical aspects of the culture, and giving them the opportunity to ask questions/make comments. While embracing these differences, the adopted parents should also work together with the child to create a sense of common values for the family. In this way, the child will experience a feeling of belonging; as opposed to believing he or she is an outsider in his or her own home.

      Reply

    • Katrina Mitchell
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 17:21:09

      Julianna,
      My favorite part of your response was your discussion about attachment for children who are adopted. Many parents fail to recognize the significance of attachment between themselves and their infant as they develop. Insecure attachment can lead to multiple social and emotional issues in later childhood and can even delay a typical developmental process. Several children I have worked with are affected by insecure attachment and realistically experiencing this issue often makes me feel sympathetic since it is something that could have been avoided early on had parents been psycho-educated about it’s importance to their children’s development.

      Reply

  3. Amanda Thomas
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 17:45:17

    A therapist can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment in a variety of ways. Foremost, the therapist should be liberal in accepting the multitude of family dynamics, including parents who are homosexual. This frame of mind will help develop rapport with the family in need of support. Additionally, providing psychoeducation or literature to parents will assist them to confidently support their families. Helping the parents diminish the “normality” stigma by informing them that there is no normal family but rather normal is unique to each family. Enhancing support systems are another approach to assisting gay/lesbian parents. If blood relatives are not supportive and positively involved in the family structure, extended family and friends may substitute as surrogates in providing support to the parents and children in gay/lesbian families. A therapist could work with parents to strengthen existing relationships with non-family members or assist parents in connecting with a near by gay/lesbian community.

    Some of the risk factors associated with adoption include children who were abused or neglected, children from homes with mentally ill parents, criminals, or other disabilities, insecure attachments, children from dissimilar racial or ethnic groups, and if the child was two years of age or older at the time of their adoption. These aforementioned risk factors can cause many challenges for the child who is being adopted as well as their adoptive families. For example, a child who has been abused or neglected is more likely to exhibited behavioral problems in comparison to a child who has not been abused or neglected. Behavioral problems account for 10-20% of failed adoptions. The child’s age at adoption is another serious risk factor. A child who is adopted at 1 year of age or older is more likely to develop an insecure attachment with their adoptive parents. Similarly, parents of children who are two years of age or older at the time of adoption, tend to struggle more with child rearing.

    Although there are risk factors associated with adoption there are also many positive outcomes as well. When parents are equipped to cope with complications that may arise with adoption the child tend to fair better in the long run. For example, parents who plan or are made aware that the child they plan to adopt has special needs, they can make arrangements to better care for that child or children, thus providing a better quality of life. It was mentioned that children who were of a different ethnic or racial group than their adoptive parents struggled with their identity. However, despite this difference, if parents make an effort to emerge the child in that culture of origin the result is positive and assists the child in forming their sense of identity or belonging. In addition adoption is a sense of permanency and meaning for some children.

    Reply

    • Emily B
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 22:08:08

      I found that positive about adopting a child with special needs very interesting when I read it. Not only does it allow the family to prepare for a child with special needs by obtaining information or going to support groups or experts to understand their child’s condition but also to understand how the child’s condition will effect their lifestyle and themselves mentally.

      Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:01:14

      Amanda – I liked how you mentioned about the age of the child and how this affects adoption. The child’s age is something that is a factor within the adoptive family. I thought that it was interesting that the book only mentions that behavioral problems and adoptions of older children are the primary reasons for disruptions. I would have liked the book to go on further on this topic as to other reasons that adoptions are disrupted.

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    • melissa r
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 20:51:25

      Amanda, I liked how you mentioned some of the risk factors for adopted children. The loss of the child being involved with their original caregivers is often due to abuse, neglect. I liked how you described some scenarios which fall under the umbrella of abuse and neglect such as mentally ill parents, legal obstacles, ” disability, insecure attachments, children from dissimilar racial or ethnic groups, and if the child was two years of age or older at the time of their adoption”.

      Reply

  4. Paige Hartmann
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 21:34:11

    Chapter 7 addresses that although the mental-social health of children of gay/lesbian parents do not differ from heterosexual parents, many still believe that heterosexual parents provide the best family dynamic for raising children. As a therapist, there are several ways to support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment. The therapist could begin by explaining that all families are diverse, whether they consist of step-parents, single parents, or gay/lesbian parents; there are no families that can be defined as “normal”. Once the gay/lesbian parents have an understanding that their family does not have to fit the cookie-cutter picture of a “perfect” family, the therapist could work with the parents to develop a support system. Often times blood relatives may not be involved within gay/lesbian families, so the therapist can help to develop support networks for the family through friends or extended family. The therapist can also assist the gay/lesbian parents to become involved in a nearby gay/lesbian community or organizations that support that lifestyle in order to form more connections for additional support. Lastly, the therapist could provide the evidence from current research that supports the notion that children of gay/lesbian parents do not suffer any consequences, as their mental-social health does not differ from children with heterosexual parents. Providing current research will boost the parents’ level of confidence in their parenting skills.

    There is no doubt that adoption can be both a challenging and rewarding process. Some risk factors involved in adoption include failure to form a secure attachment when adopted after 12 months old and losses for both the child and the parents. The child has a loss of their origin family, culture, and language. The child is mourning the loss of their birth family that they may never have the chance to know or learn about. The parents mourn the loss of a birth-child that they never will be able to have, and often mourn the expectations for what this child would have been. Another risk factor involved in adoption is when the parents decide to disclose to the child their “adoption story” or “family story”. Walsh (2003) explains that telling a child earlier is best, as this avoids the child feeling as though there is secrecy or shame about the adoption. Although there are some risks involved with adoption, there are also potential positive outcomes as well. Adoption can be rewarding to both the child and the parents. Adoption provides a permanent home for the child, as well as help to build a family structure for parents who may otherwise be unable to have biological children of their own. Another positive outcome of adoption is that the child is in a safe environment, in contrast to when they were living with parents who were ill-equipped to take care of them (due to addiction, mental illness, criminal activity, etc.).

    Reply

    • Emily B
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 22:04:01

      I agree with the idea that a therapist should help the gay and lesbian parents understand the diversity of families. It would be a challenge to have so much debate over your chosen lifestyle and the need for a “normal” family structure. But defining what a family means to the parent is an important discussion to have especially when parents are living in a minority culture.

      Reply

    • Kristina Glaude
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:00:43

      Paige – I liked how you mentioned the positives for adoption to be the permit and safe environment. I believe that these positives are important to remember when a child is developing attachment with the newly adoptive parents. Although finding this housing situation for the child may be long and difficult road if it is able to be found and these positives can be developed then the families ability to have a positive adoption increases.

      Reply

  5. Emily B
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 22:01:14

    Therapist can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment. Therapist can assist parents in finding supports within the community that can connect individuals to different supports. These groups could have a mixture of gay and straight parents that will help assist the parents in breaking the idea that everyone in their environment is non-accepting. Also, creating a safety plan with parents might be important based on the severity of incidents in which the parents have felt threatened or not accepted. This will allow the client to feel safe with the community at large and encourage an individual to report any incidents in which they may feel threatened. It is also another opportunity to identify safe and accepting members of the community. Working with clients to ensure that they are ready to take steps to reaching out to members of the gay and lesbian community.

    Some risk factors that might hinder an adoption would be lack of attachment between the new caregivers and the child. A child’s history of his or her infancy up until they were placed in the home may set the child up to trauma-based disorders. Having adoptive parent(s) who are aware of the child’s history and how to respond to them would be important to developing a positive attachment to their new child. It is also important for parents and providers to realize that there is a great amount of loss that occurs when a child is adopted. First, a child is moved from their home and is possibly relocated to a different area of the country or the world. Also, a child may be unable to maintain contact with their biological parents or other members of their families. Losing connections that might have been a support to the child would be a difficult transition. Allowing the child to grieve this loss is important and although a potential adoptive parent may not understand why the child is grieving because the child will be raised in a better environment it is important to validate these feelings. Some positive parts of adoption is the fact that a child feels apart of a home and can feel comfortable building a trusting relationship that is not as uncertain as previous placements.

    Reply

    • Julianna Aguilar
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 11:17:44

      Emily, you bring up a good point regarding the potential need for safety measures in certain situations. Discussion of this issue is often framed in terms of emotionally and psychologically non-accepting environments and how to best approach those issues (e.g., redefining certain constructs pertaining to the issue). However, the threat of a physically non-accepting environment for gay and lesbian individuals and their families is all too real; an issue that has surfaced in the media many times, sadly. In those cases, it is definitely important to be aware of these threats and work with the families and the appropriate agencies regarding the most effective safety measures.

      Reply

    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 00:09:56

      Emily, I really like that you mentioned that it is important for adoptive parents to have knowledge about a child’s history and how to respond to it when developing attachments to their children. As discussed in class tonight, “special” adoption cases are typically those children adopted over the age of five, with a minority background, that experience a range of behavioral/emotional/social/psychological difficulties. Many of these children have grown up in horrific family environments that are both directly and indirectly impacting their development and functioning. For this reason, it is critical that adoptive parents are aware, acknowledge, and try to understand the child’s history in order to most effectively help the child. This knowledge will assist the parents in their interactions with the child, determining what is the most appropriate way to address different developmental areas such as attachment styles, discipline, physical affection, etc. I think it is also essential that adoptive parents of “special” children receive outside counseling and support. Even though the adoptive parents may prepare for a child with various problems, they may need ongoing support, advice, and coaching to help them with new situations that arise in the family. Through this ongoing support, adoptive parents can work with the therapist, each other, and the child to help the family function to its fullest potential together as a whole.

      Reply

    • melissa r
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 21:03:29

      Emily,
      I really liked your point about a therapist needing to be prepared to develop a safety plan in the situation which a glb parent may be experiencing extreme discrimination, intimidation, or threats from their community. Therapy should focus around physical safety steps as well as emotional and physiological health.

      Reply

  6. Katrina Mitchell
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 22:34:44

    A therapist can support gay/lesbian parents living in a “non-accepting” environment in various ways. On a broad level, it may be useful to understand how parents’ define “normal” in the context of their family. This understanding enables the therapist to see the parents’ point of view of their family versus other families allowing them to support them from the point they’re at. Intertwined with parents’ point of view are parents’ values and beliefs encompassed within their culture. This, too, enables the therapist to identify with parents’ based on how they view and understand their world. Using these factors, therapists can specifically help parent’s identify their strengths according to their parenting style as a couple, providing parents’ reassurance. Other ways of providing reassurance can also be done by educating parents on current research that dismisses misleading information that suggests children with gay/lesbian parents have poorer mental health or compromises child development. Further, therapists can provide parents’ with resources for support and networks that allow them to feel yet more reassured and enable them as parents in a “non-accepting” environment.

    Several risk factors are associated with adoption as identified by Triseliotis and Hill (1990). Some of them include issues of personal identity, social identity, and social adjustment, specifically those built from family and community influences. Children who are adopted have experienced on average four moves before being placed and are often described as “high risk” due to emotional and social issues developed from a lack of consistency, attachment, and permanence. During the process of adoption, some children experience fears (as well as desires) of being reclaimed by a natural or biological parent only adding to their sense of insecurity. Other children who have been adopted experience dissatisfaction from their foster parents for unreasonable expectations regarding education and behavior compared to previous caregivers. Many children also remain conscious of and question full family membership when outsiders notice their different last names and atypical experiences.

    Triseliotis and Hill (1990) also identified various positive outcomes associated with adoption. Children who are adopted have a greater potential for reversing earlier adverse experiences with the experience of more intimate, consistent, caring, and closer attachments to their caregivers. These children report feelings of security, love, and being wanted. Families who adopt, therefore, provide their children a strong sense of belonging and strong identification with family by offering permanence and membership in a family while removing ideas of being taken away or visiting with social workers. Gradually, children convey feelings of belonging and being in a family as a “real child” versus feeling left out as well as a sense of security, permanence, and continuity of care. In addition, children attach importance to their family membership when they are “legally” adopted. Change of last name satisfies children’s long felt wish to erase signs of being different and relieves children explaining a different last name. Adoption also affects children who become parents later on as they experience few uncertainties or difficulties in carrying out parental roles supported by Rutter, Quinton, and Liddle (1983).

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 18:40:46

      Katrina, I really enjoyed your discussion of positive outcomes that result from adoption! It is also of importance that you mention some of these outcomes only arise after the child is legally adopted, so the child feels a sense of permanence, as some children end up in long-term foster care, with similar families, but are missing that permanence of legal adoption.

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    • Brandon Pare
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 18:51:05

      Katrina,
      I enjoyed reading the quotes and statistics you placed in your post. I agree with you when you state that children that are being adopted are high risk children. This occurs because of the nature as to which they have made their way to the adoptive family, sometimes having to move from place to place. Depending on the child’s back ground it directly influences how the child’s relationship with the adopted family will play out.

      Reply

  7. Kristina Glaude
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:19:12

    1) There are several ways that a therapist can support parents who are living in a “non-accepting” environment. A first example of this support is for the therapist not to judge any family that comes for services. This first step of a no judgment zone will allow for both therapist and clients to engage and work on other issues that are occurring in the home. This open communication will allow for the client to be the focus and not to focus on the problems or questions that the therapist has about their own values but rather, focused on the client concerns, questions and hindrances. Another way to support parents is to provide psycoeducation on topics that they are concerned with. This education could come in the forms of books or what current research says however allowing the parents to increase their knowledge in a particular area can increase their comfort. Another way to support families is to learn what they believe is “normal” then work based upon this information. The idea of families has been changing and just because what is occurring for the client’s family does not fit in what they believe is normal does not mean that the scope of normal cannot change throughout the continuation of treatment. A therapist can use the information gathered with the family to cognitive restructure thoughts and ideas that the family has. This restructuring can help a family to see alternative ways of viewing a situation that is occurring for them. A final way that a therapist can support parents is assisting parents to locate community resources that they can gain support from. The community supports can allow for parents and children in the family to increase both knowledge and supports outside the therapist office. As the therapy will only continue to occur for a limited amount of time these outside supports could continue after therapy ends. It is important that the family be given resources along with education in order for growth and change to happen.
    2) Although all families face positive and negative events as the family progresses, adoption within a family can have specific rewards and challenges to the family. Some risks or challenges that are associated with adoption are accepting the loss that has occurred in their life, attachment of the child to the new family and lastly adoption location could be a risk. The first issue for the family consists of moving past the loss that has occurred within the family. This loss is focused on infertility. This loss associated with infertility needs to be addressed before continuing on with adoption. According to Walsh there is a program/support group called RESOLVE that assists couples with progressing forward. The second issue could arise for the child within an adoption family is attachment. This is a challenge because according to Walsh attachment is a slow occurring progress. This attachment though between parent and child is key because this is the pattern that other relationships follow. Some children if adopted later in life may struggle to form these attachments. This is seen as the child has suffered separation from what they originally knew. Because of this separation the child may be less likely to attempt to try to attach to the new family. The final risk could be the location of the adoption. The risk of not only attachment concerns as discussed above but also cultural/racial and health risks come from international adoptions. When discussing culture/race within adoptions according to Walsh most adoptive parents are Caucasian and most children who are available for adoption are not Caucasian. As the family grows and the child develops the child will start to notices the differences. Noticing these differences could increase risks if not addressed within the family. Also health risks that the child has although tested for and treated does not mean that the child will not have complications later in life due to the medical conditions. The final concern that location has on adoption is the concern of language. If the child has already started to develop language in its original home country this could be a risk to the family development. This difference in language could hinder attachment along with adjustment time for the family. Some rewards that adopting families and children face are the ability to create a new family unit between the child and adoptive parents, cultural difference between child and family, location of the child for the adoption. Although loss may have occurred within the family before adoption was considered there is joy that can be noted when a family is united for the first time. Although Walsh notes that things such as culture and location can be challenges they can also be positives within the family. If the adoptive parents incorporate the culture of the child this can allow for the child to have a better understanding of their heritage along with how they got from where they were born to where they are now with the adoptive parents this could increase security for the child. This ability to incorporate location can be rewording as the adoptive parents are not rejecting where the child came from but rather incorporating this into who the family is a whole.

    Reply

    • Julianna Aguilar
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 14:36:22

      Kristina, you make a good point about viewing the issues of culture and location in a positive way. There is often a lot of speculation regarding the outcome of the child’s development if he or she is placed in a home that is culturally different. However, it is often not considered that many children in this situation develop normally and have strong relationships with their adoptive parents if integration of the cultures is encouraged. Though this integration can be a source of stress for the child and the adoptive family if not adequately and sensitively addressed, it can be a source of uniqueness and pride as well. If open dialogue is encouraged, the adopted child will be able to identify with both the culture and traditions of his birth family as well as his place of origin, as well as create a stronger bond with the adoptive parents.

      Reply

  8. Melissa Recore
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:16:15

    Some ways a therapist can support gay/lesbian parents who may be living in a “non-accepting” environment would be to psychoeducate the parents on potential obstacles, social discrimination, and stress associated with their decision. Many individuals still strongly believe that non-accepting environments such as gay/lesbian households will be detrimental to the child’s emotional and psychological development. The therapist should spend time with the couple to prepare them for possible obstacles they will come into contact with. Such issues as parents not allowing the adopted child’s friend over their house, or rude statements made to them by other parents or peers. The therapist should inform the parents of these issues while acknowledging the strengths of the couple and give some empirically support research results to the couple that will help confirm that the discriminating words of others in fact are not true. For example, research has shown that children with gay/lesbian parents do not themselves become gay/lesbian, nor do they develop sexually confused identity. Research also shows that gay/lesbian parents normally have more stable relationships due to the equal split of parenting, financial and housing responsibilities, the lack of divided sex roles, and the frequent stability found within gay/lesbian homes. This does not mean all gay/lesbian homes have these characteristics but research shows that a significant amount of gay/lesbian homes do have these positive traits.
    Risk factors for adoption can include the extreme RAD experience were the child has severe attachment issues, the frustration of waiting for paperwork to clear and finalize by the adult, the possibility of developmental difficulties, separation distress by the child who was removed from his/her previous caregiver, siblings, lifestyle, culture, language, and possessions, and the cognitive process of the child being able to come to terms with the event itself. Many children are not able to accept being adopted especially when they remember their past lifestyle or when they were uninformed of their adoption until later in life.
    Positive outcomes from being adopted include being placed in a safe, loving and healthy environment. Children being able to develop a greater self efficacy and establish more functional lifestyles. If the child was removed from an abusive or neglectful home then the child will be given the opportunity to be placed in a safe and secure environment and no longer experience the abuse. Child who are “resilient” can often regain developmental delays once placed in adopted homes. Many children build long, attached relationships with the adoptive parents and appreciate the assistance and endurance of the adopted parents .

    Reply

    • Paige Hartmann
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:02:51

      Melissa, I liked your section about the potential risk factors involved with adoption and how you focused on many of the issues that the child may face during this process. The waiting process can be very difficult for children, especially when the potential adoptive parents end up changing their mind during the adoption process. This can have a detrimental impact on the child and their hope for adoption into a loving family.

      Reply

  9. Anthony Rofino
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 16:36:00

    1) The keys to working with anyone in the LGBTQ community, be it for parents or general members of the community, is stressing the importance of finding a supportive environment and eliminating stigma as much as possible. First and foremost, it is important to build up a support network for the parents. Hopefully, this can come from natural supports, such as family or friends. However, if both halves of the couples come from unsupportive families, or have lost friends in the process of coming out, it is important to introduce them to support groups or other resources where they can build their own support networks. While there are very few, there are still some support groups that support LGB parents and would be great resources for any couple. The second important factor is to reduce stigma. Too much stigma can lead to internal homophobia, which is detrimental to the mental state of any gay person or couple. It is important to alleviate the stress of stigma that the couple is experience. This, again, can be done by creating a support system, surrounding the couple in positivity.

    2) Some risk factors that come with adoption are the hardships that the adoption process can have on the family and the child accepting the loss in their life that comes with adoption. For the first risk, it is important to support the couple (or person) in their quest for a child. It can be a very long and difficult process that is full of disappointment. It is very possible for a child to be promised to a parent, only to have the original parents change their mind (I know someone personally who this has happened to). Also, various other complications can arise that hinder the process, not to mention the financial stress that adoption can bring. Also, as stated, getting over the loss of one’s real parents can be very trying on a child. This is especially true if the child is older and had a good relationship with their birth parents. However, despite these hardships, one major positive of adoption is the stability that a child does not get from foster care.

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 18:34:47

      Anthony, I really like your discussion of reducing stigma for LGBTQ parents. This is a very important point that you make and one that if not addressed can adversely affect both the parents and the children. You, also do a nice job explaining some of the risk factors and hardships that come along with adoption

      Reply

    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 21:06:06

      Anthony, the LGBTQ community does need to have both strong support and a reduction of stigmas that say that they cannot parent children. I am hoping with the new changing laws that there will be increased acceptance of the LGBTQ community that will further reduce the stigmas that are currently in place and new support networks can be formed to help those that need the support. I like how you mentioned that there is a lot of disappointment in adoption because I have also seen far too often children who were ready to be adopted and then not for one reason or another as well as parents who were all set for their new child and then had it suddenly change because of the birth parents. Unfortunately it is a reality that does not really have a solution because birth parents can change their minds and legalities does stop children from getting adopted for one reason or another.

      Reply

  10. Sara Grzejszczak
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 18:31:56

    Therapists can support gay and lesbian parents who are living in a “non-accepting” environment first off by reiterating the fact that there is no ideal nuclear family and that every family is different. This would be important because the image of having a mom and dad and a dog is still very popular even though it is beginning to change slowly. Therapists could also look into some support groups for parents who are gay and lesbian and live in a “non-accepting” community which would be able to help them in realizing that there are many more couples just like themselves. Even having the couple connect with another couple to start a new family that does not have any negative stigmas and that could support one another would be beneficial. Current research shows that it does not matter what type of home you live in that matters when raising children, doing some psychoeducation with parents would be beneficial because it would give them a basis that can be used to go back to when there are times of doubt as to if what they are doing in raising a child is the right thing to do. By arming gay and lesbian parents with these tools they will be able to help themselves be better parents to their children and help to stop the stigmas that they and their comrades face.

    Some risk factors for adoption are that these families are built on the idea that the parents are unable to have their own biological children and the adoptees were given up or taken away from their birth parents. This could lead to risks because if there is any type of problem in the relationship between the parents and child or if the child is having any type of behavioral problem or other psychological problems then the parents will think about how that these issues would not have happened with their own biological children. Parents may also have unrealistic expectations as to how the adoption process will go and the transitions both them and their child will have to go through to get adjusted. This could cause great stress to the child who has already had disruptions in their life and again causes the parents to potentially feel like this would not happen if the child was theirs biologically. There are many positive outcomes to adoption, including that parents who adopt a child with a physical disability report having a high satisfaction rate with the adoption. This is probably because they are able to prepare for the special needs of the child before the child comes into the home where birth parents do not and need a period of time to adjust psychologically. Also, while there are different types of adoptions and many ways to let children know about how they were adopted and why they were adopted by supporting the child in late adolescence and early adult hood in finding information about their birth parents the bond between adoptees and parents can in fact grow stronger.

    Reply

    • Paige Hartmann
      Oct 11, 2013 @ 16:08:51

      Sara, you make a good point when you mentioned that adoptive parents often have unrealistic expectations when they go into adoption. Many parents have the skewed perception that if there ends up being behavioral or psychological difficulties with their adoptive child, if they were able to have their own biological children they would not have those same issues. Adoptive parents should go into the adoption process with an open mind with the belief that the child they adopt is unique.

      Reply

  11. Angela Vizzo
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 18:32:01

    There are a variety of ways a therapist can help support a gay or lesbian couple who are parents with an unsupportive environment. One major thing that can be done is educating the clients on the research that shows how children from gay and lesbian families have similar outcomes as those who were raised by heterosexual parents. It is also important to help these individuals strengthen their relationship with each other as well as their children, teaching the same parenting techniques that would be taught to a heterosexual couple seeking therapy. Finally, one should encourage them to find a support system, whether it be in their families, friends or community, and assist them as needed if they would like to attend a group or other resources where they can find this social support.

    Potential risk factors faced in adoptive families include adopting a child after they are a year old as attachment issues and developmental delays may arise, the parents can have difficulty forming an attachment with the child due to their history of loss and/or social stigma, and issues involving the biological parents may arise. In addition, children who are older when adopted can have issues related to former abuse and neglect, when and how to disclose the fact that a child is adopted can become a challenge, and children adopted internationally can experience loss as they are being being pulled from one culture and put into another. However, despite these issues most adoptions result in positive outcomes. For example, most transracial adoptions result in satisfaction, and children with physical disabilities who are adopted have families that understand the limitations of the child. Also, most adoptive parents are fully ready to become parents as they have chosen this route and it has taken a great deal of time and resources to get to the point of placing a child.

    Reply

    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Oct 10, 2013 @ 20:54:38

      Angela, I liked how you pointed out that the individuals need to be strengthened in their relationship and the relationship that they have with their children. The issue of attachment issues are very prevalent, where I work there are numerous children who are now high school age and never became securely attached to one or both of their parents after adoption. I do like how you pointed out that people who adopt choose it and so they are more ready. The books said that a person does not fall into adoption and it is so true, unlike people who have “oops babies” that may end up giving their child for adoption because they were not ready.

      Reply

  12. Brandon Pare
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 23:56:26

    1) The ways a therapist can provide help to lesbian/gay couples living in a none accepting community is help them find strategies to “negotiate their relationships with the larger community and their families of origin, forging social networks and establishing boundaries between themselves and the outside world, as well as negotiating relationships and roles, developing problem-solving strategies, mediating conflicts, and marking boundaries inside the family” (Laird, 2003, 194). What is also important to consider is to what extent the gay/lesbian couple wish to be accepted. How much involvement do they want in the community? So the questions that should be ask are: 1) What do they wish to come out to? and 2) What do they wish to be once they have come out? There are various support networks and groups that gay/lesbian couples can join and come out too that can give them involvement and meaning. What should also be offered is individual support in addition to group support. It’s important that the couple feels supported by the therapist as they venture into trying to feel accepted in the community they are part of. This could be where they live, their culture, or maybe even their family. The therapist and the couple should make realistic goals for influencing these things. For where the individual lives, as I said they could get involved with various support groups, or ultimately move if they have to. There are states and cities just more accepting to gays and lesbians. Cultural background is something that cannot be change so there will have to be individual, family, and group work done for this. Maybe getting them involved in a homosexual group for couples in their own culture. Finally, for family they have to be able to game plan with the therapist as to how they can work with the family based on history and desired involvement. Make not just the couple secure in themselves but also the family and if not then have a backup plan. This could take a while.
    2) There are many positives and negatives that are associated with adoptions. For one the child can be removed from a negative home and placed in a positive home. They could be escaping a potentially harmful situation. Adopted children can have new opportunities that could allow them to thrive. They are given purpose in a family and could feel special. Also on the other side adoption can allow for parents the opportunity to love and care for a child and bring joy into their lives. It can help provide a meaning to a set of parents that maybe unable to conceive a child on their own. In some cultures and religions it could even be seen as fulfilling the obligation to bring joy in a child’s life that you were meant to inherent. The negatives of adoption can vary. This can even go back to the origins of the adoption. Was there intent to adopt or was this the only place the child could go. This happens in inter family adoption. For example a mother that is incapable of taking care of her child so her sister or parents adopt it. This can create strain on the family and also bring up a lot of insecurities in the child as well as questions they might have. Based on what they are told and how it is handle can influence this. Also sometimes when the child is adopted at a young age they can have some sort of disability or mental illness that isn’t identified yet. This could create a financial, physical, and social stress on the family. Children that are adopted could come from situations that are harmful to them and because of this they carry schemas that could influence the relationship that they can have with the adopted family. Also the sole fact of coming to terms with the concept of being adopted can be hard for the child. This could be an influential factor in developing a mood, attachment, or personality disorder. Finally, the medical history of a child could be hard to know. The adopted parents can be incapable of predicting potential physical medical issues that could occur to the child.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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