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Module 1: Trust, positive coping strategies, and behavior management

Purpose – Parent:  To form a therapeutic, supportive relationship and working alliance; to discuss basic premises of adoption; to help focus on children’s strengths and engender positive interactions; to assist parents in developing appropriate behavior management plans.  Child:  To form a therapeutic, supportive relationship and working alliance: to assist child with feelings identification; to aid child in strengthening current and developing new adaptive coping strategies.  3 individual parent and child sessions, 1 joint session

Module 2: Developmental understanding of adoption experience

Purpose –  Parents:  To assess where parents are in their comfort with, awareness of, and understanding of the adoption experience for them and their child; to help parents tell or co-create the child’s adoption story; to help parents develop comfort with and skill in talking with their child about difficult information in their past at a developmentally appropriate level.   Child: To assess children’s understanding, comfort and awareness of why they are/were adopted and clarify information about their adoption story; to facilitate the child’s ability to tell their story within an appropriate developmental level; to understand the meaning of adoption, and to validate adoption as a valued family form. 2 parent and child sessions, 1 joint session

Module 3:  Substance abuse prevention

Purpose – Parents:  To increase parents’ understanding of the effects of prenatal substance exposure (if appropriate) and debunk popular myths; to help parents talk with child about birth parent substance abuse; to present and discuss substance abuse prevention strategies.

Child: To help children discuss their birth parents’ substance use and abuse (if known and child aware of it); to discuss child’s increased risk for substance abuse and substance abuse prevention strategies; to practice through role-play resisting peer pressure to try drugs/alcohol.  1 parent and child session, 1 joint session

Module 4: Loss and grief issues about birth family and foster care

Purpose –  Parents:  To facilitate parents’ understanding of the losses the child has suffered; to help parents learn to assist children in the grieving process; to help parents deal with their own adoption-related losses; and to assist parents in dealing with feelings of rejection   Child: To help children identify and acknowledge their previous losses; to assist children in understanding the circumstances surrounding their losses and support exploration of feelings; and to assist in the grieving process.  3 parent and child sessions, 1 joint session

Module 5:  Attachment/joining with adoptive family

Purpose –  Parents:  To assist parents in understanding the attachment process; to discuss mechanisms to facilitate attachment; to help parents “claim” the child and feel entitled to parent their child; to facilitate positive family interactions.  Child:  To help the child talk about their feelings about safety, trust and security (or lack thereof) in their adoptive family; to facilitate a strong sense of identification with their adoptive family.  2 parent and child sessions, 1 joint session

Module 6: Search for identity/self-esteem (extra sessions for families adopting transracially)

Purpose – Parents:  To help parents understand the complexities of identity development for adopted children in integrating a sense of self that involves birth family, foster family, adoptive family and the child, particularly as they approach adolescence; to explore special issues of identity for children adopted transracially.  Child:  To assist children in the development of one’s identity, integrating their heritage and biological roots of the birth family with the heritage of the adopted family; to explore the particular issues that arise for transracially adopted children.  2 parent and child sessions, 1 joint session (for transracial/transcultural adoptions, 1 parent, 1 child and 1 joint session are added)

Module 7:  Adoption and the outside world

Purpose –  Parents:  To help parents and children deal with questions about the child’s background and adoption that come from other children, other parents and strangers; to help parents in deciding who they tell (e.g., extended family members, pediatricians, teachers) about difficult past history of the child.  Child:  To empower children to handle the aversive questions others ask about adoption. Sometimes they are asked questions about their stories and other times they are asked to be experts on adoption because they are adopted.  2 parent and child sessions

Module 8:  Trauma Treatment (if appropriate)

Purpose – Parents:  To help parents understand that later placed children being adopted from foster care are likely to have experienced traumatic events that will take time, nurturance and probably therapy to heal; to assist parents in tolerating and accepting children’s disclosures of trauma, providing a safe and trusting environment for them to talk about (or draw or play out for younger children) what happened to them.  Child:  Children moving from foster care to adoption have often experienced physical and or sexual abuse, neglect, deprivation and other violent events. If a child is currently experiencing post traumatic stress symptoms that are distressing and interfering in any way, then it may be recommended that the child engage in the trauma narrative process with their therapist in combination with other anxiety management, coping, and adoption-specific skills from previous modules.  3 child and parent sessions, 1 joint session

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