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Resources for Adult Adoptees: The Adoption Journey Julie Kirven, LSW 2/28/2012 (SASS 505: Adoption Practice and Policy)

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Presentation on theme: "Resources for Adult Adoptees: The Adoption Journey Julie Kirven, LSW 2/28/2012 (SASS 505: Adoption Practice and Policy)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Resources for Adult Adoptees: The Adoption Journey Julie Kirven, LSW 2/28/2012 (SASS 505: Adoption Practice and Policy)

2 Adoption Issues Adoption is a lifelong, intergenerational process that unites the triad of birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families foreverbirth Adoption triggers seven core issues for the adoptee, regardless of the circumstances of the adoption: 1. Loss 2.Rejection 3. Guilt and Shame 4. Grief 5. Identity 6. Intimacy 7. Mastery/control (Silverstein and Kaplan 1982)

3 Adoption Issues The adoptee makes the transition from one family to another with minimal consideration of the child's long- term needs. The emphasis has been on the needs of the adults. The ramifications of this attitude can be seen in the number of difficulties experienced by adoptees. By identifying and integrating these core issues into services and supports universalizes and validates adoptees experiences, decreasing their isolation and feelings of helplessness. (pre/post-adoption education, post-placement supervision, and all post-legalized services, including treatment) (

4 Famous Adoptees Anita Baker Nancy Reagan George "Superman" Reeves Bill Clinton Faith Hill Greg Louganis George Washington Carver Jim Palmer Ray Liotta Rebecca de Mornay Melissa Gilbert Debbie Harry Jessie Jackson Lee Majors Tim McGraw Demi Moore Edgar Allan Poe Ingrid Bergman Dave Thomas

5 Search/Reunion The desire to search for birth relatives is a normal part of the identity formation process for adopted people. Many adopted people decide to search for their birth family at some point during their lives. There are many reasons why adopted people choose to search: The desire for general birth family information like names of birth parents Where they live What they are like Information about birth family traits and personalities Information about the circumstances surrounding the adoption The need for medical information (

6 Preparing for the Search Reconnection with birth parent(s) can be emotionally grueling. It is important to be ready. Prepare yourself beforehand, and you’ll be well on your way to re-establishing contact. It’s natural to be scared or nervous. Move forward when you’re ready, and gather your support system around you. Questions to Ask Yourself: Do you have the resources and time necessary to complete the search? Which resources and mediums will you be using? Do you have a sturdy, reliable support system? Are you interested in using a paid searcher? Are you prepared to not experience the ideal outcome? Are you ready to see this search through to the end? (

7 Accessing Information Adoptions Prior to Jan. 1, 1964 – Adoption records open to people who were born and adopted in Ohio, with proper identificationAdoptions Prior to Jan. 1, 1964 Adoptions Between Jan. 1, 1964 and Sept. 18, 1996 – Adoption records are sealed and only opened by a probate court order (H.B. 84)Adoptions Between Jan. 1, 1964 and Sept. 18, 1996 Adoptions After Sept. 18, 1996 – Adoption records are open to adoptive parents when the adopted person is between 18-21 years of age. If the adopted person is 21 years or older, the records are open to the adoptee. (H.B. 419) ( After Sept. 18, 1996

8 Accessing Information (cont.) The Ohio Department of Health houses birth and adoption records for anyone born in Ohio and in the United States. For more information contact: Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics P.O. 15098 Columbus, Ohio 43215 Telephone: (614) 466-2531

9 Searching Request your non-identifying information from the agency that handled your adoption. Register with the International Soundex Reunion Registry at 888-886-ISSR or online at Go to the Ohio Department of Vital Statistics. If you are an adoptee, you can see if a copy of your original birth certificate is available. You can register with the Ohio Adoption Registry (

10 Search Resources Adoptees Search Rights Association (*Search support) P.O. Box 8713 Toledo, Ohio, 43613 Contact: Nancy Gillen Adoptee Liberty Movement Association (ALMA) - ALMA is the oldest and most successful adoption reunion registry. The National Adoption Registry -founded in 1991 for the exclusive purpose of providing a simple, affordable forum for reuniting adoptees and birthparents. - website to search for lost loved one.

11 Resources (cont.) Adopt INFO – a website that has a comprehensive handbook that shows you how to search for birth parent(s). Adoption Registry- site claims to be the largest website dealing with reunions. Adoptee Search Center - registry that appears to be free, the ability to search, tips for searching and search services. New York Adoption 1969 – for adoptees born on 1969 to put there information on a website in hopes of finding their birth parents. New York Adoption 1965 - for adoptees born in 1965, allows the adoptees to put their information on the site in hopes of finding their birth parents. ( )

12 Supports Adoption Network Cleveland:  Adoption Helpline (216) 325-1000  General Support and Discussion Meetings Times of all meetings are 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. For more information about General Support and Discussion Meetings, contact Linda Bellini at (216) 482-2323.Linda Bellini  Adoptee Journeys- an in-depth series of evening workshops thatAdoptee Journeys explore different aspects of being adopted and related issues  Search and Reunion assistance  Mentoring and Resources for Youth  Advocacy– Adoption Equity Ohio

13 Supports Summit County Children Services:  Information, support and referral: Adoptive parents can contact the agency to talk with a post-adoption specialist. Information about adoption issues and parenting can be shared.  PASSS (Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy): PASSS is a state funded subsidy program that provides families with funds for services that help maintain children in their adoptive homes  Support Groups: A list of adoption support groups in the area is available upon request.  Other subsidies: State and Federal Maintenance subsidies provide a monthly stipend to families. These are meant to assist with the cost of adding an adopted child to the family.

14 Supports (cont.)  Post Adoption Inquiries : Adult adoptees adopted through Summit County Children Services may request non-identifying information about their pre-adoptive history and their birth families. For more information contact Jenny Biggin at or (330) Summit County Children Services 264 S. Arlington St. Akron, OH 44306 (330)434-KIDS

15 Support Groups 1 st Thursday, 2 nd Wednesday, 3 rd Thursday, Last Tuesday of the month—General Support and Discussion Meetings for any adult adoptee, adoptive parent, birthparent, prospective adoptive parent, professional, or anyone interested in lifelong adoption issues. every month, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm Linda Bellini, Adoption Network Cleveland at (216) 325-1000, ext. 123. 2nd Thursday of every month-- Adoption Cluster/Support Group, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3955 Euclid Avenue, 3rd Floor, Cleveland, Ohio. Contact Michele at (216) 381-2611 or at Adoption Connection P.O. Box 2482 Youngstown, Ohio 44509 Contact: Lucy Ruffner (330) 792-3546 *Birthparents, Adult adopted persons and adoptive parents (

16 Support Groups (cont.) On-line Support Groups: Monthly support group for all adoptees and formerly fostered individuals over age 18. The new online group is facilitated by experienced adult adoptees. Registered participants attend monthly sessions as well as post to the discussion forums at any time. The site is fully secure and names known only to group administrators. Contact: Amy Fjellman at for details on registration and an expected launch The Barker Foundation Contact: Abbe Levine 301-664-9664 Email: All-Adoptee: Yahoo Groups Contact: 317-849-5651 Email:

17 Support Groups (con’t) On-Line Groups: Adoptees Birthrights Committee (ABC) Website: Adoption Knowledge Affiliates Where: Austin, TX Email: American Adoption Congress (AAC) - provide education for our members and We advocate legislation that will grant every individual access to information about his or her family and heritage. Ohio Adoption Laws- The site provides information on Ohio adoption laws pertaining to the parties involved and procedures (

18 Clinical Implications  Adoption is a process, not an event, and adoption-related issues may come up for adopted people around particular life events, no matter how the adoption occurred. (birthdays, giving birth, holidays (Mother's Day or Father's Day), age- or school-related life events, and developmental milestones or stages (graduations, identity formation of adolescence, etc.).  There are predictable and normal issues/emotions that most adopted people will experience and may benefit from professional services from adoption-competent providers/services.  Services that would be beneficial include: -Outpatient mental health services/counseling (to deal with issues of grief and loss, attachment issues, difficulty trusting others, etc.) -Education/Information -Mentoring (linking adult adoptees with other adult adoptees) -Formal and informal supports -Assistance with search and reunion ( (

19 Education/Recommended Reading Second Choice: Growing Up Adopted Robert Anderson Adoption Reunion Survival Guide: Preparing Yourself for the Search, Reunion, and Beyond Julie Bailey and Lynn Giddens Late Discoveries: An Adoptee's Quest for Truth Susan Bennett Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self David M.Brodzinsky, Marshall D. Schlechter, Robin Marantz Henig. Outer Search/Inner Journey: An Orphan and Adoptee's Quest Peter F. Dodds. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew Sherrie Eldridge The Search: A Memoir of an Adopted Woman Titia Ellis

20 “No one yet has put into words the complexity of being adopted.” -B.J. Lifton

21 References        

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