Friday, April 30, 2010

Crises in Adoptions: Resources

PEAR State Directory and Guide to Health Professional license checks links updated on May 17, 2010
Over the past year, PEAR has been researching resources for parents and children in crisis as part of the basic information to be included in our PEAR state directories.

Due to the current demand for help, we are sharing this work-in-progress in the hopes that it may provide some answers.

In addressing this very serious issue, PEAR is not going to mince words - the reality facing adoptive parents is that the easy-to-find, comprehensive, widely available, affordable, and accessible resources that many adoptive parents need, whether for their child or themselves in crisis, do not exist in the United States.

While many of the larger adoption-related organizations have articles about crisis adoptions, their websites are often difficult to navigate. The resources contain research and information that is years out of date; often, URL links are broken. Much of what exists merely discusses the issues on the surface and lists few concrete places to which families can turn, and even less when in a crisis situation.

Furthermore, sites that discuss child-welfare policies tend to be academic, and as a result have no practical in-the-trenches use for an adoptive parent in crisis. These resources may, however, be very useful for training prospective adoptive parents.

We have come to the conclusion that the ivory-tower, top-down approach of providing resources is not working. PEAR is embarking on an expanded approach with panel discussions with adoptive parents working from the trenches up. Adoptive parents need to express their needs AND be heard by those providing services. PEAR invites all adoptive parents with ideas on providing resources to families in crisis or to participate in PEAR’s Parent Panel to contact . We are also teaming up with other organizations comprised of and serving the needs of adoptive families to solve the underlying problems of the system. If an organization is interested in joining us, please contact Gina Pollock .

PEAR wishes to offer the following list of resources and information as a starting point for those who are experiencing a crisis now.

Caveat One to Crisis Contacts: FEAR

Many parents deeply fear what will happen to their entire family when dealing with a violent crisis with their adoptee, particularly if police or child services become involved. The fear intensifies if you have other children in the home—will officials or social workers take your other children away from you? What will happen to the child being removed? The bottom line is that the adoptive parent must be prepared. Some tips to prepare include the following:

(1) Retain a lawyer. Confide in an attorney you trust. Provide them with the background information concerning your family. Ask for advice on relevant state laws with regards to the effects of police and child services interventions. Seek advice in drawing up plans for the care of other children and pets within your home should they need temporary sanctuary from the chaos of a crisis situation (see point 5 below). When you need to call the police, call your lawyer ASAP and ask for him/her to be present at the house when the police arrive.

(2) If you have a clergyperson or religious advisor, make them aware of your situation and ask them to be available, if needed. At the time you need to call police or child services, call your clergyperson or religious advisor and ask them to be present at the house when the police arrive. They can vouch for you and offer another stable voice in a chaotic situation.

(3) Have all medical and psychological diagnoses readily available. Dates of diagnoses, names and contact information for health professionals who have diagnosed and treated your child, dates of care in facilities and contact information of facilities that your child may have been in for psychiatric care and medications and their side effects used in the past and present for your child should be clearly recorded.

(4) In some cases it may be beneficial to make a proactive call to law enforcement and emergency personnel that a child or adult with a trauma history is living in your home. Consult with your attorney before doing this so that you are aware of any legal risks.

(5) If other children are residing in the home, prepare a written plan for temporary sanctuary and shelter for other members of the household. Find a relative, close friend, or adoption support group who can provide a safe place in times of crisis. Although the plan may not be legally enforceable in your area, it demonstrates that you have thought this scenario through and are attempting to do the best thing for the other children in your home while dealing with the violent child or even your own out-of-control behavior.

(6) Keep a detailed journal of incidents that are dangerous, threatening, or causing you concern with dates, locations and any witnesses. This journal will helpful for any medical, psychiatric, legal, or social services interventions and treatments plans for your child and yourself.

Caveat Two to Crisis Contacts and Information: Reliability and Quality of Information

We will be working with our Parent Panel and other organizations to create a list of criteria to evaluate the quality and availability of various services and therapies. At this early stage, we have not been able to fully vet all of the resources listed below. We do wish to offer them as a starting point.

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) does not officially endorse these listings. The contents are provided for informational purposes only as a community service.

PEAR is not certifying the competence or quality of practice of any practitioner. PEAR makes no representations, warranties, guarantees or promises on behalf of or for those listed, and does not assume liability or responsibility for any service or product provided.

PEAR’s Stance on Therapies

Types of therapies that PEAR does not endorse:

Therapies that put children at risk for injury or death are not endorsed by PEAR. PEAR strives to give resources that fit this stance. If you feel that a resource listed does not fit this stance, let us know at .

PEAR’s Initial Resources List

General Crises contact information

For immediate danger to adoptee, other children or adults in the home, call 911.

For a list of 24 hour state crisis lines:

Mental Health America : has a list of resources and a Crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI):

General Crisis Parenting Information for Adoptive Families

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)

Child Welfare Information Gateway

EMK press

Perspectives Press:

PEAR Resources

PEAR is in the process of establishing various support resources for families. PEAR has launched 13 state directories in the first quarter of 2010 with state-based parent support including respite care, health provider listings including mental health and residential treatment centers, education and bureaucratic information, freely downloadable at .

Post adoption support groups

Adopting Older kids

Adoption Parenting –biweekly topic driven discussion list for those that have completed adoptions.


Attach China

Daily Parenting Reflections (the Beyond Consequences Group)

Eastern European Adoption Coalition, inc- listserves for specific countries, post adoption for any country, fetal alcohol disorders

Families with Children from Vietnam

Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (includes links to local chapters, resources, an online parent support group and hotline)

International Adoption Resources

Latin American Parent Association

Older Child

Older Kids

Parenting Kids with Issues

Post- Adopt


Post-Adoption Labyrinth

RAD 101


RAD World

Spirited Child

State based pre and post adoption support groups where the XX represents the 2 letter state abbreviation.

The ODD parent journey

Respite finder

Fetal alcohol syndrome information and listserves

FAS information

FASlink Discussion Forum is an Internet mail list for individuals, families and professionals who deal with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

FAS Resource listserve

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Research Institute

National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Trauma, Attachment, Reactive Attachment Disorder Information

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Attachment and Trauma Network information and online support groups

Attachment Disorder site

Child Trauma Academy

Journey to Me

Mayo Clinic


Trauma Headquarters

Locating a Therapist or Counselor

In addition to the resources already stated, you can find lists of therapists at the following locations. An important step after locating a therapist through any means is to follow the steps of self-advocacy for vetting a health care professional described below.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy: the listed therapists are Clinical Members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The directory provides information on the therapist's office locations and availability, practice description, education, professional licenses, health plan participation, achievements and awards and languages spoken. The site also contains a downloadable guide to interviewing a therapist and finding the right fit for your family (look under Frequently Asked Questions).

The American Association of Pastoral Counselors: This page contains a list of Pastoral Counseling Centers which have been accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors as Service Centers (providing counseling and psychotherapy services). Links to e-mail or websites are provided where available. Pastoral Counselors are also found in private practice and in other settings. The Association office (703-385-6967) can refer you to them, in addition to those who practice in the centers listed.

American Counselor Association: Counselor Find is a special area of The National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. website, is designed to help you find a professional counselor.

Adoptive parents need to self-advocate.

Part of self-advocacy is recognition that you need to vet the health-care professional for your child and knowing how to do it. This article explains the need to check licensing

We would like to offer the following suggestions for researching professionals and organizations:

Step 1: Figure out who will be working with your child by contacting the resource and asking for names of practitioners.

Step 2: Find out if the health professional or location has licensed people working with your child. A Health professional license check tool for all 50 states and DC is located on a pdf at the PEAR library

Step 3: Go to an adoptive parent support group and ask listmates about their experiences and ask for specific recommendations based on your child’s needs. Some support groups are listed above. Each state PEAR directory located in the PEAR library gives state-based web lists and organizations as well.

Step 4: Share your experiences with other adoptive parents to pay it forward.

If you know of a good resource to be included in a future PEAR directory, please send information to or log information (8 basic questions) in PEAR’s mental health survey at or PEAR’s therapist survey at

Ethics, Transparency, Support~ What All Adoptions Deserve.


Donley Farm said...

I wish I had heard about you sooner! Thank you for these resources.

I will spread the word about your blog and website. I've passed on an award to you on my blog.

Thanks again.


marianne from va said...

These seem to be chiefly private companies for the elderly. And some for mentally handicapped. Found no Respite care for our normal-IQ, early traumatized, and acting out adopted teen...except entangling with the state agency.

marianne from va said...

to add to my previous pertained to the "Respite" resources website, and what I saw for my state

PEAR said...


are you speaking of the link to Lifespan? That organization was set up to provide all respite resources, unfortunately, most respite resources are available for the elderly. You might wish to contact Jill Kagen and inquire about further advocacy for families in crises:
Jill Kagan, MPH
Chair, National Respite Coalition and
Director of the ARCH NRN Resource Center
4016 Oxford St.
Annandale, VA 22003