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Readiness to Adopt Children with Special Needs: User Manual

Readiness to Adopt Children with Special Needs: User Manual

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Publicado porJane Gilgun
This document serves as a users manual for the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (RASS) and the Interview for the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (IRASS). The RASS is for prospective adoptive parents to fill out on their own. The RASS is designed to help parents prepare for the adoption of children with special needs. The IRASS is for adoption professionals to use when conducting home studies for adults who may want to adopt children with special needs. Both the RASS and the IRASS are at the end of this document.

This document describes how we developed the tools and provides definitions of the categories of the tools. The document also reports on the experiences of parents who have adopted children with special needs--in their own words.
This document serves as a users manual for the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (RASS) and the Interview for the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (IRASS). The RASS is for prospective adoptive parents to fill out on their own. The RASS is designed to help parents prepare for the adoption of children with special needs. The IRASS is for adoption professionals to use when conducting home studies for adults who may want to adopt children with special needs. Both the RASS and the IRASS are at the end of this document.

This document describes how we developed the tools and provides definitions of the categories of the tools. The document also reports on the experiences of parents who have adopted children with special needs--in their own words.

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Published by: Jane Gilgun on Nov 05, 2009
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IRASS Page 1 of 75


 
 
 The
Development
of
an
Adoptive
Parent
Self­Survey

 
 and
a
Structured
Adoption
Interview
Guide
 


Toward
a
Users
Guide


 
 Jane
F.
Gilgun
 University
of
Minnesota,
Twin
Cities
 Susan
Keskinen,
St.
Paul,
MN
 



 
 Much
of
the
material
in
this
document
has
not
appeared
elsewhere,
but
some
is
part
of
a
 paper
presented
at
the
annual
conference,
National
Council
on
Family
Relations,
Orlando,
 Florida,
November
22,
2004.

Jane
F.
Gilgun,
Ph.D.,
LICSW,
is
professor,
School
of
Social
 Work,
University
of
Minnesota,
Twin
Cities,
USA.
E‐mail:
jgilgun@umn.edu.
Susan
Keskinen,
 MSW,
is
a
consultant
in
St.
Paul,
MN.
E‐mail:
skeskinen@yahoo.com.
Professor
Gilgun
has
 children’s
books,
books,
and
articles
relevant
to
adoption,
children
with
special
needs,
and
 other
topics
on
Amazon
Kindle,
scribd.com/professorjane,
and
stores.lulu.com/jgilgun.
The
 authors
would
like
to
thank
Brandi
Hill,
Laurie
Karp,
and
Samantha
Sherman
for
their
 comments
on
previous
versions
of
this
paper.


IRASS Page 2 of 75


 
 
 ABSTRACT
 This
document
presents
two
newly
developed
instruments
useful
in
adoption
practice:
The
 Readiness
to
Adopt
Self‐Survey
(RASS)
and
the
Interview
for
the
Readiness
to
Adopt
Self‐ Survey
 (IRASS).
 Both
 tools
 are
 designed
 to
 be
 used
 with
 parents
 who
 are
 thinking
 about
 adopting
 children
 with
 special
 needs.
 The
 items
 of
 the
 tools
 parallel
 each
 other.
 
 This
 document
 describes
 how
 we
 constructed
 the
 instruments.
 We
 share
 excerpts
 from
 adoptive
 parents’
 interviews
 so
 that
 readers
 can
 learn
 in
 adoptive
 parents’
 own
 words
 what
it
means
to
parent
children
with
special
needs.
We
also
discuss
the
items
of
the
tools
 in
some
detail.
These
items
include
commitment
to
the
children,
capacities
to
manage
one’s
 own
emotional
responsiveness,
and
willingness
to
engage
in
services.
The
instruments
are
 at
the
end
of
this
document.


IRASS Page 3 of 75


 
 
 The
Development
of
an
Adoptive
Parent
Self­Survey

 
 and
a
Structured
Interview
Guide
 
 
 The
 goal
 of
 this
 research
 on
 which
 the
 tools
 are
 based
 was
 to
 develop
 a
 tool,
 an
 adoptive
parent
self‐assessment
tool,
that
could
be
used
by
prospective
adoptive
parents
to
 help
them
to
prepare
them
for
the
tasks
of
parenting
special
needs
adopted
children.
 The
 creation
 the
 Readiness
 to
 Adopt
 Self‐Survey
 (RASS)
 grew
 from
 conversations
 among
 members
 of
 an
 adoption
 advisory
 board
 about
 a
 need
 for
 guidelines
 for
 assessing
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents’
 willingness
 and
 capacities
 to
 parent
 children
 with
 special
 needs.
 Parenting
 these
 children
 involves
 having
 more
 than
 ordinary
 parenting
 skills
 and
 resources.

 We
 developed
 two
 tools:
 the
 Readiness
 to
 Adopt
 Self‐Survey
 (RASS)
 and
 the
 Interview
 for
 the
 Readiness
 to
 Adopt
 Self‐Survey
 (IRASS).
 We
 based
 these
 tools
 on
 information
 we
 obtained
 from
 adoptive
 parents
 and
 adoption
 professionals.
 
 Specifically,
 using
research
and
theory
we
used
the
information
obtained
from
individual,
couple,
and
 focus
 group
 interviews
 that
 we
 conducted
 with
 adoptive
 parents
 and
 focus
 group
 interviews
with
adoption
professionals.
We
reconstructed
that
information
into
the
RASS,
a
 tool
for
adoptive
parents,
and
the
IRASS,
a
tool
for
adoption
professionals.
 The
 RASS,
 as
 its
 title
 states,
 is
 a
 self‐survey
 designed
 to
 help
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents
 reflect
 upon
 their
 willingness
 and
 capacities
 to
 parent
 adoptive
 children
 with
 special
needs
and
to
identify
parents’
strengths
as
well
as
their
areas
for
growth.

The
tool
 allows
 parents
 to
 do
 self‐reflection
 about
 their
 capacities
 and
 willingness
 without
 fear
 of
 being
judged
by
adoption
professionals.

The
IRASS
is
a
structured
interview
that
parallels
 the
 topics
 in
 the
 RASS.
 
 Adoption
 professionals
 conduct
 this
 interview
 after
 parents
 have
 completed
the
RASS
and
have
discussed
their
responses
with
significant
others.

Adoption
 professionals
 can
 offer
 parents
 support,
 counsel,
 referral
 for
 training,
 and
 other
 forms
 of
 self‐development
 in
 order
 to
 prepare
 them
 to
 welcome
 children
 with
 special
 needs
 into
 their
families.
 Children
with
Special
Needs
 Since
the
passage
of
the
Adoption
and
Safe
Families
Act
(ASFA)
of
1997,
the
number
 of
 foster
 children
 placed
 for
 adoption
 from
 public
 social
 service
 agencies
 has
 almost
 doubled,
 from
 28,000
 to
 51,000
 (Testa,
 2004).
 
 However,
 the
 number
 of
 children
 eligible
 for
adoption
still
exceeds
the
number
placed;
as
many
as
128,000
children
were
eligible
for
 adoption
in
1999.

These
children
lingering
in
foster
care
are
more
likely
to
be
children
of
 color
 or
 older
 children
 than
 those
 children
 who
 are
 adopted
 (Green,
 2003).
 
 In
 addition,
 they
often
have
more
serious
behavioral,
emotional,
and
medical
issues
than
children
who
 have
 been
 placed
 in
 adoptive
 homes.
 
 In
 December
 2003,
 President
 Bush
 signed
 into
 law


IRASS Page 4 of 75

the
Adoption
Promotion
Act
of
2003,
which
extended
a
bonus
program
to
state
and
county
 agencies
for
each
special
needs
adoption
they
facilitate.

Hopefully
this
extension
will
result
 in
an
increase
in
the
adoptions
of
children
with
special
needs.

 The
term
‘children
with
special
needs’
has
many
meanings
but
in
general
indicates
 children
 with
 behavioral
 and
 emotional
 issues
 that
 are
 far
 more
 challenging
 than
 typical
 parents
 have
 capacities
 for
 meeting
 (Terlin‐Watt,
 2001).
 
 These
 children
 have
 varied
 life
 experiences
that
typically
include
trauma
such
as
witnessing
domestic
violence,
being
the
 targets
of
abuse
and
neglect,
and
suffering
the
death
of
one
or
both
parents,
often
in
tragic
 circumstances.
Many
special
needs
children
have
attachment
disorders,
meaning
that
they
 cannot
give
and
receive
affection
in
ways
which
parents
expect
and
want.


 As
 Reilly
 and
 Platz
 (2003)
 found,
 the
 challenging
 behaviors
 that
 adopted
 children
 show
 may
 not
 appear
 until
 years
 after
 their
 adoption
 or
 placement.
 
 Examples
 of
 such
 behaviors
 are
 fetal
 alcohol
 spectrum
 effects
 and
 childhood
 mental
 illnesses
 whose
 symptoms
may
not
be
evident
at
birth
but
appear
over
time.

Other
characteristics
that
are
 associated
with
the
being
a
child
with
special
needs
in
the
field
of
adoption
include
health
 conditions
 that
 require
 specialized
 care;
 prenatal
 exposure
 to
 drugs,
 alcohol,
 and
 other
 toxic
 substances;
 sibling
 groups;
 older
 children;
 and
 children
 of
 color
 (Bower
 &
 Laws,
 2002:
 Green,
 2003;
 Reilly
 &
 Paltz,
 2003;
 Rosenthal
 &
 Groze,
 1992).
 
 Children
 who
 are
 considered
special
needs
typically
have
more
than
one
of
these
characteristics.


 Research
 and
 professional
 experience
 have
 documented
 the
 higher
 likelihood
 of
 adoption
disruptions
among
children
with
special
needs
than
among
children
who
have
a
 conventional
status
(Leung
&
Erich,
2002).
Though
the
research
is
more
than
a
decade
old,
 the
 highest
 rates
 of
 disruption
 are
 among
 older
 children,
 at
 about
 14%
 (Barth
 &
 Berry,
 1988).
 
 Among
 children
 with
 special
 needs
 adopted
 at
 any
 age,
 the
 disruption
 rates
 are
 about
a
percentage
point
higher
(Groze,
1986).



 This
 means
 that
 at
 least
 85%
 of
 special
 needs
 adoptions
 donot
 result
 in
 adoption
 disruptions.
 
 There
 is
 some
 research
 evidence
 that
 children
 who
 act
 out
 sexually
 are
 particularly
difficult
for
adoptive
families
to
parent,
and
therefore
disruption
rates
are
high
 for
these
children
(Sandmeier,
1988;
Smith
&
Howard,
1994).

Given
the
challenges
these
 children
 present
 to
 adoptive
 families,
 adoption
 professionals
 throughout
 the
 country
 recognize
the
need
to
recruit
and
prepare
adoptive
parents
who
can
effectively
respond
to
 children
 with
 special
 needs.
 
 Adoptive
 parents
 have
 the
 responsibility
 to
 educate
 themselves
about
the
issues
related
to
the
adoption
of
children
with
special
needs.
 While
 the
 challenges
 cannot
 be
 minimized,
 children
 with
 special
 needs
 in
 many
 ways
are
no
different
from
other
children
in
that
they
can
be
appealing,
fun,
full
of
joy,
and
 be
wonderful
to
be
around.

They
offer
adoptive
parents
opportunities
to
share
their
lives
 with
 children,
 the
 satisfaction
 of
 watching
 children
 change
 and
 grow,
 and
 the
 sense
 of
 purpose
that
comes
with
parenting
children.
Additionally,
these
children
deserve
the
same
 birthright
 of
 every
 child
 
 ‐
 to
 be
 loved,
 to
 feel
 a
 sense
 of
 permanency,
 and
 to
 belong
 to
 a
 family.

The
satisfaction
of
parenting
children
with
special
needs
most
often
far
outweighs


IRASS Page 5 of 75

the
 challenges.
 
 We
 know
 this
 from
 our
 professional
 experiences
 and
 research
 supports
 those
observations.

 Parenting
Children
with
Special
Needs

 
 Adoption
 professionals
 have
 long
 recognized
 the
 importance
 of
 preparing
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents
 for
 the
 placement
 of
 children
 with
 special
 needs.
 
 For
 example,
more
than
25
years
ago,
Fox
(1979)
described
a
small,
community‐based
program
 whose
purpose
was
to
prepare
foster
and
adoptive
parents
for
children
with
special
needs.

 Nelson
 (1985)
 showed
 that
 agency
 preparation
 of
 prospective
 adoption
 parents
 is
 a
 significant
 factor
 in
 how
 well
 children
 with
 special
 needs
 do
 in
 adoption
 placement.

 Although
there
has
been
little
research
on
preparation
of
adoptive
parents,
a
considerable
 body
 of
 work
 documents
 qualities
 of
 adoptive
 parents
 and
 their
 support
 networks
 associated
with
satisfaction
with
adoption
and
rates
of
disruptions
of
adoption
placements.


 This
research,
too,
has
a
long
history.
More
than
20
years
ago,
Cohen
(1984)
found
 that
 parental
 unrealistic
 expectations
 about
 the
 children
 and
 their
 own
 capacities
 were
 associated
 with
 both
 dissatisfaction
 with
 adoption
 and
 disruptions
 of
 the
 adoptions,
 findings
 that
 others
 have
 replicated
 and
 elaborated
 upon
 (Barth
 &
 Berry,
 1988;
 Kagan
 &
 Reid,
1986).

Reilly
and
Platz
(2003)
reasoned
that
better
preparation
of
adoptive
parents
 for
 special
 needs
 children
 and
 the
 more
 adequate
 the
 information
 that
 agencies
 provide
 about
 particular
 children
 placed
 in
 their
 homes,
 the
 more
 positive
 adoptions
 will
 be
 for
 children,
 families,
 and
 marital
 relationships.
 Other
 researchers
 have
 also
 pointed
 out
 the
 detrimental
 affects
 of
 parental
 rigidity
 in
 parenting
 styles
 (Barth
 &
 Berry,
 1988;
 Kagan
 &
 Reid,
1986;
Groze,
1996;
Reilly
&
Platz.
2003).


 Qualities associated with satisfaction with parenting children with special needs include effective parenting skills and the quality of the marital relationship (Rosenthal, Groze, & Aguilar, 1991), adoptive families’ positive ratings of family functioning (Erich & Leung, 1988), emotional closeness and flexibility and adaptation in family roles (Rosenthal et al, 1991), parents’ participation in religious activities (Erich & Leung, 1998; Nelson, 1985), parental capacities to manage their own emotional responses to children (Kagan & Reid, 1986), and availability of persons in social networks to provide support to adoptive parents (Dunsts, Trivette, & Deal, 1994, 1990; Kagan & Reid, 1986). Post-placement services (Barth, Berry, Goodfield, & Feinberg, 1986; Groze, Young, & Corcran-Rumppe, 1991) and parents’ willingness to engage with these services (Terling-Watt, 2001) are also factors in satisfaction with adoption and disruption rates. Method Through discussions with parents, adoptive parents, and adoption professionals we came to the realization that experienced adoptive parents were our best source for information about the qualities needed to parent special needs adopted children. Using our collective experiences as parents and/or as adoption professionals and information from the literature review, we brainstormed for ideas about what it takes to parent special needs children. Using our network of contacts, we were able to get the names of adoption professionals and adoptive families who might be interested in talking to us about their experiences. Focus groups and individual

IRASS Page 6 of 75

interviews were arranged with both groups of people. We also conducted couple interviews with some of the adoptive parents. 
 A
 total
 of
 59
 adoptive
 parents
 participated
 in
 five
 focus
 groups
 and
 34
 individual
 interviews.
 
 
 Forty‐nine
 of
 the
 parents
 were
 women
 and
 seven
 were
 men.
 Four
 of
 the
 interviews
 were
 with
 both
 parents
 and
 the
 remainder
 of
 the
 interviews
 was
 with
 single
 parents
or
the
mothers
in
two‐parent
marriages.
Two
of
the
individual
interviews
were
by
 telephone
 and
 the
 remaining
 interviews
 were
 in‐person.
 
 The
 parents
 were
 caring
 for
 about
 150
 adoptive
 children
 with
 various
 special
 needs,
 such
 as
 fetal
 alcohol
 syndrome,
 attachment
issues,
conduct
disorders,
learning
disabilities,
and
medical
issues.
The
sample
 was
primarily
white,
married,
and
middle
class.
About
one‐third
of
the
European‐American
 parents
had
adopted
African‐American
children.
 A
semi‐structured
interview
guide
was
used
during
the
focus
groups
and
interviews
 with
 adoptive
 parents.
 
 Some
 of
 the
 questions
 asked
 were:
 
 How
 long
 have
 you
 had
 adoptive/adopted
 children
 in
 your
 home?
 
 
 What
 kinds
 of
 issues
 did
 these
 children
 have
 when
 first
 placed?
 
 What
 kinds
 of
 issues
 do
 they
 have
 now?
 Did
 you
 initially
 think
 there
 was
a
good
match
between
you
and
the
children
who
were
placed
in
your
home?

Do
you
 now
think
there
was
a
good
match
between
you
and
the
children
who
were
placed
in
your
 home?
 
 Did
 you
 need
 extra
 help
 in
 terms
 of
 developing
 skills
 to
 deal
 with
 your
 adoptive
 child(ren)?

 Twenty
four
adoption
professionals
participated
in
the
research;
ten
participated
in
 focus
 groups
 and
 14
 participated
 in
 individual
 interviews.
 
 The
 adoption
 professionals
 were
 primarily
 women
 with
 between
 one
 and
 22
 years
 experience
 working
 in
 adoption.

 Some
 of
 the
 questions
 adoption
 professionals
 were
 asked
 were:
 How
 would
 you
 characterize
children
with
special
needs?
How
important
is
your
relationship
with
adoptive
 parents
and
the
adoptive
children
to
the
success
of
the
adoption?

What
does
a
successful
 adoption
 look
 like?
 
 How
 do
 you
 know
 a
 successful
 adoption
 when
 you
 see
 one?
 
 What
 factors
foster
a
successful
adoption?


 The
facilitators
and
interviewers
took
extensive
notes
during
the
focus
groups
and
 interviews
and
expanded
upon
them
later.

Three
of
the
seven
groups
were
tape‐recorded
 and
most
of
the
individual
interviews
were
tape‐recorded.

Four
interviews
were
not
tape‐
 recorded
 because
 the
 interviews
 took
 place
 in
 public
 places
 that
 had
 substantial
 background
noise
or
they
were
done
by
telephone.

All
of
the
tape‐recorded
interviews
and
 focus
groups
were
transcribed.
 
 The
 first
 transcripts
 were
 coded
 to
 identify
 the
 major
 categories
 of
 codes.
 The
 assumptions
of
research
on
resilience,
research
on
emotional
and
cognitive
regulation
and
 dysregulation
 (Gilgun,
 in
 press
 c),
 and
 our
 professional
 experience
 in
 parenting
 and
 adoption
 guided
 our
 analysis.
 The
 analytic
 approach
 can
 be
 considered
 deductive
 qualitative
analysis
(Gilgun,
in
press
b,
2004),
which
is
a
form
of
analysis
that
begins
with
a
 guiding
 conceptual
 framework
 that
 provides
 researchers
 with
 sensitizing
 concepts,
 while
 at
 the
 same
 time
 directs
 researchers
 to
 seek
 evidence
 that
 contradicts
 and
 thus
 expands
 emerging
understandings.





IRASS Page 7 of 75

Description
of
the
Readiness
to
Adopt
Self­Survey
 Interviews
with
adoptive
parents
and
professionals
not
only
confirmed
much
of
our
 own
practice
experience
and
findings
of
research,
but
they
also
identified
other
categories
 important
to
parenting
children
with
special
needs.
We
identified
six
main
categories
that
 organized
 28
 subcategories
 for
 the
 RASS.
 
 The
 six
 main
 categories
 are
 1)
 parenting,
 2)
 personal
 qualities,
 3)
 family
 and
 social
 networks,
 4)
 values,
 expectations,
 and
 beliefs,
 5)
 creating
healthy
environments,
and
6)
when
you
and
your
family
need
extra
help.


 Each
section
of
the
RASS
has
several
subsections
with
between
two
and
ten
items.
 Items
 are
 answered
 on
 a
 scale
 of
 1
 to
 5,
 with
 ‘1’
 meaning
 ‘doesn’t
 describe
 me
 at
 all’,
 ‘2’
 meaning
‘describes
me
a
little’,
‘3’
meaning
‘describes
me
somewhat’,
‘4’
meaning
‘describes
 me
quite
well’,
and
‘5’
meaning
‘describes
me
very
well’.

Some
questions
have
the
option
 for
a
‘not
applicable’
answer.


 As
 an
 on‐line
 tool,
 the
 RASS
 is
 available
 for
 any
 prospective
 parent
 with
 access
 to
 the
internet
to
use
as
a
method
of
self‐evaluation.

The
first
thing
users
must
do
is
set
up
a
 user
name
and
password.

This
allows
users
to
complete
the
tool
in
more
than
one
session,
 should
they
lack
time
or
become
fatigued.


After
completing
each
section,
they
are
given
a
 score
 and
 rating
 of
 poor,
 fair,
 or
 good.
 
 The
 rating
 gives
 them
 a
 sense
 of
 how
 their
 score
 might
 compare
 to
 a
 desirable
 score.
 
 The
 survey
 also
 collects
 demographic
 data
 on
 respondents,
 as
 an
 optional
 feature.
 
 Finally,
 the
 tool
 provides
 a
 list
 of
 adoption‐related
 resources
for
parents
including
various
web
sites,
publications,
and
organizations.
 Parenting
 
 The
Parenting
section
of
the
RASS
has
35
statements
grouped
into
six
subsections
–
 identity
as
a
parent;
commitment;
willingness
to
learn
about
children’s
needs;
authoritative
 parenting;
 affirming
 children’s
 strengths,
 cultural
 heritage,
 and
 identity;
 and
 facilitating
 children’s
acceptance
of
their
own
pasts.

This
section
includes
the
more
‘hands‐on’
aspects
 of
parenting,
the
sorts
of
issues
that
all
adoptive
parents
will
deal
with
at
some
time.
 Identity
as
a
Parent
 People
 who
 identify
 themselves
 as
 parents
 can
 imagine
 themselves
 in
 the
 many
 roles
of
parenthood
and
have
given
much
thought
to
what
parenting
involves.

They
know
 that
parenting
is
a
24‐hour
a
day
job,
that
involves
sacrifices
of
personal
time,
money
and
 life
style.

They
know
that
as
a
parent
they
will
have
to
give
structure
and
discipline
to
the
 lives
 of
 their
 children;
 help
 their
 children
 to
 become
 educated
 and
 socialized;
 and
 give
 them
love
and
understanding.
People
who
identify
themselves
as
parents
view
themselves
 as
having
positive
characteristics
and
strengths
that
they
want
to
pass
on
and
nurture
in
a
 child.
 
 They
 also
 have
 an
 appreciation
 for
 the
 rewards
 of
 parenthood
 such
 as
 receiving
 a
 smile,
a
hug,
or
a
‘thank
you’;
watching
a
child
take
a
first
step
or
seeing
them
off
to
their
 first
 day
 of
 school;
 helping
 them
 to
 tie
 their
 shoes,
 use
 scissors,
 or
 learn
 their
 alphabet.

 People
who
identify
as
parents
see
themselves
wearing
the
various
hats
of
parenthood
and
 can
envision
both
the
rewards
and
challenges
they
will
face.




IRASS Page 8 of 75

Adoptive
 parents
 are
 excited
 to
 be
 parents;
 some
 have
 waited
 many
 years
 for
 the
 opportunity.
 
 They
 are
 immediately
 thrown
 into
 the
 joys
 and
 stresses
 of
 parenthood
 –
 setting
limits,
being
supportive
and
loving,
and
handling
disagreements.


These
are
some
of
 the
statements
made
by
adoptive
parents
about
their
identities
as
parents:
 • • • We’re
going
to
take
these
kids,
give
or
take,
whatever
disability
you
have,
whatever
you
 have,
we’re
going
to
be
there
and
we’re
going
to
be
the
strong
ones.
 But
the
other
thing,
too,
that’s
really
huge
with
these
kids,
that
we
picked
up
on
right
 away,
is
their
view
of
a
parent
isn’t
forever.

 I
 remember
 them
 asking
 me,
 “Why
 do
 you
 always
 call
 me
 these
 sweetie
 names?”
 I
 realize
 that
 nobody
 called
 them
 Babe,
 nobody
 called
 them
 Honey
 or,
 you
 know,
 and
 I
 mean
 they
 didn’t
 like
 it
 or,
 it
 was
 just
 kind
 of
 like,
 “Well
 why
 would
 you,
 you
 know,
 why?”

I’m
like,
“Well
because
you’re
my
kids.”

 I’ve
always
wanted
to
be
a
mother.
I
had
two
miscarriages,
at
nineteen
and
twenty‐one.
 I
had
to
have
a
hysterectomy.

So
I’ve
never
been
able
to
be
a
parent.

But
I’ve
always
 wanted
to
have
a
house
full
of
kids
and
be
financially
able
to
take
care
of
them.

I’d
be
 the
 old
 lady
 in
 the
 shoe.
 I
 still
 am
 possibly,
 if
 I
 can
 get
 that
 financial
 blessing,
 if
 the
 lottery
or
whatever
comes
my
way,
if
I
could
financially
do
it,
I
would
have
a
house
full.


 But
yet
I
think
you
have
to
know
that
this
is
more
than
just
helping
a
child
that
doesn’t
 have
a
home.

This
is
altering
your
lifestyle
forever.

 I
always
tell
people
that
don’t
view
your
kids
as
option
D.

These
kids
you
adopt
aren’t
 option
D.

Because,
you
know,
option
A
is
having
a
birth
child.

 And
I
said
to
my
son,
“Well,
I
raised
her
for
four
years,
how
can
I
give
her
to
somebody
 else?

I’d
wonder
all
my
life
what
happened
to
her.”

You
know.

I
said,
“She’s
like
my
 own.”



• • •

Commitment


 Making
 the
 commitment
 to
 become
 an
 adoptive
 parent
 is
 similar
 to
 becoming
 a
 birth
 parent:
 it
 is
 a
 physically
 and
 emotionally
 life‐altering
 experience.
 
 It
 is
 a
 life‐long
 commitment
 to
 a
 child
 without
 guarantees
 and
 with
 a
 no‐return
 policy.
 
 Commitment
 involves
 understanding
 and
 accepting
 a
 child
 regardless
 of
 her
 or
 his
 limitations,
 capabilities,
 histories,
 and
 behaviors.
 
 Commitment
 by
 an
 adoptive
 parent
 requires
 a
 heightened
awareness
of
the
issues
of
loss,
abandonment,
attachment,
and
disappointment
 that
 are
 typical
 in
 adoptive
 children.
 It
 also
 involves
 an
 awareness
 that
 children
 need
 stability
 and
 structure
 in
 their
 lives,
 although
 sometimes
 they
 deny
 it.
 
 Commitment
 is
 a
 strong
desire
to
provide
a
safe,
secure,
and
stable
‘forever‐after
home’
for
the
child.
 Adoptive
 parents’
 insightful
 statements
 demonstrate
 how
 committed
 they
 feel
 towards
their
adopted
children
and
the
deep
understanding
they
have
of
the
journey
their
 children
have
made.

Here
are
some
of
their
thoughts
on
commitment:


IRASS Page 9 of 75

If
I
gave
birth
to
a
child
and
they
stole
candy
from
the
drug
store
or
took
money
off
my
 dresser,
or
smeared
feces
on
the
wall,
I
wouldn’t
be
sending
them
back.
I
wouldn’t
be.
 So
 it’s
 important
 they
 understand
 the
 concept
 of
 a
 commitment
 and
 family
 and
 that
 family
isn’t
just
a
conventional
thing.


 When
you’re
dealing
with
children,
you’re
dealing
with
commitments
and
relationships
 and
marriages
and
family,
you
know
what,
there
is
no
guarantee.
This
child
may
never
 do
 this
 again,
 but
 this
 child
 may
 regress
 to
 this.
 
 You’re
 going
 to
 see
 some
 of
 the
 behavior
this
foster
home
has
seen,
but
you’re
going
to
see
some
they
have
never
seen.

 Because,
you
know
what,
you’re
going
to
be
the
parent
of
this
kid.

You’re
going
to
own
 this
kid,
you’re
going
to
claim
this
kid.
When
that
gets
through
to
this
kid,
they
are
going
 to
be
so
scared
they’re
going
to
do
something
that
none
of
us
would
ever
expect.

 Because
a
lot
of
people
do
think
once
you
adopt
a
kid
and
you
get
them
home
and
you
 just
 give
 them
 all
 this
 love
 and
 all
 this
 attention
 and
 everything
 will
 just
 fall
 in
 place.

 But
 that
 does
 not
 happen.
 Because
 kids,
 first
 you
 have
 to
 kind
 of
 earn
 their
 trust
 and
 they
kind
of
feel
you
out.

I
mean
like
the
first
month
or
so.

 We’re
very
committed
people.
We
also
said
that
when
we
pick
these
kids
there
ain’t
no
 going
 back.
 There
 has
 never
 been
 a
 time
 we
 have
 ever
 said,
 ever
 brought
 up
 about,
 “Well
you’re
going
back.”

 You
know
that’s
the
cool
thing
about
parents
is
that
they
love
you
no
matter
what.

They
 may
not
like
what
you’re
doing
and
your
actions,
but
they
still
love
you.
So
he’s
got
that
 down.

That
he
knows
without
a
doubt,
that
no
matter
what
Mom
and
Dad
still
love
him.

 I
can
hit
Mom
and
Dad
and
I
can
yell
at
them
and
I
can
say
I
hate
you
and
they
still
love
 me.


 Now
 I
 think
 we’re
 getting
 into
 the
 kind
 of
 testing
 that
 kids
 do.
 But
 still,
 on
 a
 frequent
 basis,
you
know,
“Will
you
still
love,”
you
know
and
we
went
from,
him
asking
us,
“Do
 you
love
me?”

To
now
he’s
doing
the
opposite,
“You
hate
me.”

You
know,
“No,
we
don’t
 hate
 you.”
 
 “Do
 you
 like
 me?”
 
 “Yes,
 we
 like
 you.”
 
 So
 it’s
 that
 they’ll
 blatantly
 do
 something
and
then
wait
to
see
what
your
reaction
is.

 I
can
think
of
my
kids,
they’ve
had
bad
instances
where
they’re
second
class
compared
 to
biological
children.

When
it
comes
time
for
family
vacations,
they
don’t
get
to
go.

 We
chose
you
to
part
of
our
family
through
good
or
bad.




• •

Willingness
to
Learn
about
Children’s
Needs


 Parents
must
be
willing
to
learn
about
their
children’s
needs
through
reading,
ECFE
 classes,
 conversations
 with
 professionals
 and
 other
 parents,
 and
 support
 groups.
 
 Many
 problems
 or
 issues
 that
 children
 have
 may
 not
 be
 initially
 known
 but
 may
 arise
 as
 they
 mature
and
develop.

Parents
of
adopted
children
should
be
particularly
tuned
in
to
issues
 related
 to
 Fetal
 Alcohol
 Syndrome
 and
 Effects,
 attachment
 disorders,
 and
 abandonment
 and
loss
issues,
since
they
are
prevalent
among
adopted
children.

Parents
need
to
be
alert


IRASS Page 10 of 75

to
the
early
signs
of
problems
and
needs
in
child
and
need
to
be
willing
to
talk
openly
with
 family
members
and
professionals
about
the
issues
their
child
faces
and
how
to
overcome
 them.

 Adoptive
parents
show
not
just
a
willingness
to
learn
about
their
children’s
needs,
 but
also
insight
into
the
basis
of
those
needs
and
other
needs
that
are
unspoken.

In
their
 words,
this
is
how
they
see
their
children’s
needs:
 • I
just
said,
“You
know
what,
I
am
going
to
be
your
mom.
I
know
this
is
really
hard
for
 you
 right
 now.
 
 I
 know
 you
 don’t
 like
 this.
 I’m
 really
 sorry
 that,
 that
 you’ve
 had
 to
 go
 through
what
you’ve
gone
through.

I’m
really
sorry
that
this
is
hard”
R.
was
one
that
 couldn’t
 be
 in
 touch
 with
 anything
 that
 was
 happening
 to
 her.
 
 You
 would
 talk
 to
 her
 and
she’d
be
going,
“The
sky
is
blue,
my
shoes
are
red,
the
sky
is
blue,
my
shoes
are
red,
 the
sky
is
blue,
my
shoes
are
red.”


 We
 still
 have
 issues.
 
 Some
 things
 she
 just
 won’t
 tell
 me.
 
 Like
 if
 something
 happens,
 because
she
was
so
used
to
having
to
deal
with
things
on
her
own.
Now
she’s
still
doing
 it,
but
we’re
working
on
it.

Just
get
her
to
tell
me
when
something’s
wrong
because
she
 feels
like
it’s
her
problem
to
deal
with.

 He
didn’t
know
how
to
hug,
so
I
said,
“Okay,
you
put
your
arm
here,
and
I’ll
put
my
arm
 here
like
this
and
this,
this.
We’re
hugging.

 For
a
lot
of
these
kids
these
little
issues
that
are
little
to
you
are
HUGE
to
them.
I
think
 by
not
making
a
big
deal
about
it,
everything’s
a
matter
of
fact
around
here.

That’s
a
big
 thing
 we
 do.
 
 Everything’s
 a
 matter
 of
 fact.
 
 So
 when
 he
 would
 be
 like,
 “Well
 are
 you
 going
to
be
there
to
pick
me
up?”

Instead
of
like,
“Well
honey,
Daddy
would
never
leave
 you
 there.”
 
 It’d
 be
 like,
 “Well
 what
 else
 am
 I
 going
 to
 do?
 
 Why
 would
 even
 think
 something
like
that?”

 Our
son,
for
a
long
time,
was
stuck
on
things
like
he
lives
everywhere.

Every
house
is
 his
 house.
 
 Everybody’s
 his
 family.
 
 He
 doesn’t
 know
 who
 is
 his
 family.
 
 So
 for
 a
 long
 time,
everywhere
we
would
go
I
had
this
leash
I
would
put
on
him.
Just
in
case
because
 every
time
I
would
just
hold
him.
He
wants
to
run
around.
I
let
him
go,
he’s
gone.
We
did
 this
for
a
while.
Then
he
stopped.
He
was
fine.
I
stopped
using
that.

He
hasn’t
tried
to
 run
 away.
 
 He
 didn’t
 try
 anything
 on
 purpose.
 It’s
 just,
 he
 was
 not
 sure
 where
 he
 belonged.

 When
they
were
in
foster
care,
they
didn’t
see
them
enough
The
kids
were
depressed.
 They
were
young.

I
don't
think
that
anybody
really
knew
their
potential.
I
kind
of
think
 that
nobody
ever
knew
them
well
enough.

 
Whatever
 you
 say
 to
 them,
 please
 remember
 that
 you
 have
 to
 do
 it.
 
 That’s
 a
 one
 hundred
and
ten
percent.
Their
whole
life
they’ve
had
broken
promises.

You
can’t
do
 that.



• •

IRASS Page 11 of 75

You
got
to
show
them
that
you
can
be
there.
You
have
to
teach
them
stuff
because
they
 don’t
really
know
a
lot
of
stuff.
The
foster
home
don’t
really
teach
them
a
lot.
It’s,
you
 know,
 take
 a
 shower
 properly.
 
 They
 don’t
 know
 how
 to
 brush
 their
 teeth
 properly.
 They
 didn’t
 know
 anything
 about
 nutrition.
 
 They
 didn’t
 know
 anything
 about
 like
 laundry
or
wearing
like
clean
clothes.



Authoritative
Parenting
 The
primary
role
of
parents
is
to
guide,
teach,
and
socialize
their
children,
not
to
be
 their
friends.

As
an
authoritative
parent
they
must
be
able
to
set
age‐appropriate
rules
and
 expectations
 for
 their
 child
 and
 follow
 through
 with
 age‐appropriate
 consequences
 when
 they
 are
 not
 followed.
 
 The
 rules
 and
 household
 chores
 in
 the
 home
 must
 be
 age‐ appropriate
and
respectful
of
all
family
members.

Parents
must
be
able
to
explain
clearly
 to
 their
 children
 their
 expectations
 of
 them
 in
 particular
 situations
 such
 as
 eating
 at
 a
 restaurant,
 coming
 home
 later
 than
 expected,
 or
 not
 being
 able
 to
 complete
 a
 household
 chore.

They
understand
that
children
like
to
have
choices
so
they
often
present
them
with
 options
that
are
all
acceptable,
such
as
having
chicken
or
hamburger
for
dinner.


 They
 acknowledge
 or
 praise
 their
 child
 when
 they
 have
 followed
 rules
 or
 expectations
such
as
behaved
well
at
a
party.
They
work
as
a
family
unit
with
each
member
 contributing
to
the
work
of
the
household.
They
provide
their
child
with
opportunities
to
 show
 their
 initiative,
 self‐motivation,
 competency
 or
 responsibility.
 
 They
 choose
 which
 issues
are
worth
arguing
about
and
which
can
be
overlooked
so
that
their
relationship
with
 their
child
is
not
always
adversarial.
They
are
affectionate
with
their
child
through
words
 and
 touch
 such
 as
 hugs,
 embraces,
 kisses,
 and
 pats
 on
 the
 back
 and
 they
 find
 ways
 to
 let
 their
 child
 know
 that
 they
 are
 loved,
 even
 when
 they
 may
 not
 approve
 of
 their
 child’s
 behavior.
 
 Adoptive
parents
talked
about
the
importance
of
being
an
authoritative
parent
and
 having
rules
that
provide
structure
for
them
and
for
their
children.

Here’s
what
they
said:
 • Well,
there
have
been
times
when
I’ve
called
them
over
at
a
friend’s
house.

I
say,
“What
 are
you
doing?

Well,
you
know
what?
You
need
to
come
back
home
and
finish
what
you
 were
supposed
to
finish.
That
was
the
agreement
here.”

But
we’ve
never
grounded
our
 children,
either.

Never.

We
don’t
believe
in
grounding.

You
know
what?
You
solve
the
 problem
now.

Why
drag
it
out?

 When
you
get
frustrated,
you
really
do
have
to
be
able
to
understand
that
you
have
to
 have
 structure,
 especially
 with
 fetal
 alcohol
 kids,
 you
 have
 to
 understand
 what
 your
 kids
need,
I
guess,
is
what
I’m
trying
to
say.

In
the
sense
of,
not
what
everybody
tells
 you,
 not
 what
 any
 theory
 is,
 not
 even
 when
 Grandma
 says,
you
 know,
 “Can’t
they
just
 have
sugar?”

No,
not
even
when
they’re
with
Grandma
they
can’t
have
sugar.

Because,
 do
 you
 know
 what
 happens
 to
 this
 child?
 
 This
 child
 gets
 this
 way
 and
 what
 really
 happens
to
this
child
is
he
hates
himself
when
this
happens.




IRASS Page 12 of 75

They
definitely
need
structure.

I
think
the
best
thing
you
can
do
for
a
child
is
give
them
 structure.

Because
they
get
into,
fall
into
that
routine
and
if
they
don’t
have
it
upsets
 their
whole
life.


 We’re
their
parents
first,
friend
second.
We
do
that
all
the
time.

“I
thought
you
were
my
 best
friend.”

I
said,
“You
know
what,
you’re
wrong.

I’m
not,
I’m
your
parent
first,
then
 I’m
your
best
friend.”

We
say
it
all
the
time.

A
best
friend
lets
you
jump
off
the
bridge
 and
laughs
that
you’re
falling.
Dad
won’t
do
that.

We’re
not
doing
that.

 It’s
work
in
the
beginning,
but
it
pays
off.

Because
they
know
what
the
expectations
are.

 We
 went
 and
 visited
 someone
 last
 summer.
 
 This
 gentleman
 had
 met
 my
 children
 before.

He
was
kind
of
joking,
he
was
an
older
gentleman,
he
said,
“So
you,
so
I
bet
you
 guys
get
in
trouble
sometimes.”

My
son
looked
at
him
and
said,
“Well,
you
know
what,
 it’s
our
choice.
We
get
to
choose
to
be
good
or
we
can
choose
to
do
something
bad.
But
 my
mom
lets
us
pick
which
one.”

He
about
fell
off
his
chair.
We
put
it
very
much
that
 way.

The
decision
is
yours
as
to
how
you
want
to
behave.
If
you
make
good
choices
you
 get
more
privileges.

 All
those
problems
started
at
home,
they
got
to
end
at
home.
I
don’t
care
what
you
do,
 you
are
going
to
sit
there
until
you
go
down
and
you
apologize
to
her.

You’re
going
to
 take
 responsibility
 for
 that
 action.
 
 Because
 that’s
 not
 happening
 in
 our
 home.
 
 Our
 family
doesn’t
do
that.

 You
got
to
try
to
break
it
down
in
simple
terms
so
they
understand
what
you’re
saying
 and
think
about
what
they
did.


 We’ve
 got
 a
 few
 rules
 in
 our
 house.
 
 You
 know
 we’ve
 got
 the
 three
 big
 ones,
 respect
 yourself,
respect
others,
always
tell
the
truth.


We
really
have
to
follow
through.

You
 really
 have
 to
 know
 that.
 
 Even
 if
 they
 don’t
 like
 it.
 
 You
 have
 to
 believe
 that
 there’s
 something
there
because
M.
will
come
up
to
us
now,
and
says,
“I
pinched
B.
I
have
to
go
 sit
in
time
out.”

 
He’d
 be
 up
 there
 playing.
 
 I’d
 hear
 him
 say,
 you
 know,
 using
 my
 words,
 talking
 to
 another
dinosaur,
“You’re
supposed
to
eat
all
your
cereal.”
“Drink
your
milk
before,
you
 have
to
drink
your
milk
before
you
get
up
from
the
table.”
“No
spitting.

If
you
spit
you
 sit.”
About
that
point
we’re
like,
wow,
this
is
what
they’re
going
to
tell
their
kids.

We
got
 to
be
careful
because
we’re
training
our
grandchildren
as
well
as
our
children.




• •

Affirming
Children’s
Strengths,
Cultural
Heritage,
and
Identity

 Parents
need
to
recognize
their
child’s
accomplishments
and
acknowledge
it
to
their
 child
in
words.

Sometimes
parents
need
to
create
situations
for
their
child
to
gain
a
sense
 of
 accomplishment
 and
 pride
 by
 enrolling
 them
 in
 sports,
 music
 lessons,
 or
 giving
 them
 special
 tasks
 around
 the
 house.
 Parents
 are
 aware
 of
 child
 development
 and
 the
 stages
 where
 children
 search
 for
 their
 identity
 and
 they
 facilitate
 that
 search.
 
 They
 also
 talk
 openly
 and
 age‐appropriately
 with
 their
 child
 about
 sexuality.
 
 They
 consider
 the


IRASS Page 13 of 75

possibility
 that
 their
 child
 may
 be
 lesbian,
 gay,
 bi‐sexual
 or
 transgender
 and
 they
 think
 about
how
they
can
support
and
nurture
their
child
regardless
of
their
sexual
orientation.
 When
parents
adopt
trans‐racially
they
create
a
multi‐cultural
family.

They
need
to
 understand
that
the
racial
issues
that
exist
in
trans‐racial
adoptions
can
be
difficult
for
all
 members
of
the
family.

Parents
need
to
create
opportunities
for
their
children
of
different
 racial
and
ethnic
origins
to
understand,
identify
with,
and
be
part
of
their
cultural,
ethnic,
 and
racial
heritages.

Parents
can
do
this
by
pointing
out
to
their
child
and
celebrating
the
 contributions
people
from
her/his
cultural
heritage
have
made
to
society;
introducing
their
 child
 to
 language,
 music,
 art,
 history,
 and
 stories
 related
 to
 her/his
 cultural
 heritage;
 and
 learning
how
to
perform
routine
care
of
their
child’s
skin
and
hair.
 Adoptive
 parents
 are
 excited
 to
 learn
 about
 their
 children
 and
 to
 discover
 their
 children’s
 strengths,
 cultural
 heritage,
 and
 identity.
 
 Many
 go
 to
 great
 lengths
 to
 find
 appropriate
communities
and
cultural
events,
as
stated
below:
 • 
For
a
long
time
she
wanted
to
be
white.

So
we
had
to
work
on
her
identity.
She
hasn’t
 said
that
for
a
long
time.

Society
says
white.
Of
course
living
with
us
being
white
and
 her
 mother
 being
 white,
 when
 she
 was
 around
 four
 and
 five,
 it
 was
 not
 a
 real
 big
 problem
but
it
was,
definitely
she’d
talk
about
it
to
us.

“I
wish
I
was
white.”

Of
course,
 we’d
 say,
 “You’re
 beautiful.”
 
 
 I
 went
 to
 one
 of
 these,
 “You’re
 not
 white,
 but
 you’re
 beautiful.
 You
 should
 be
 proud
 of
 who
 you
 are.
 
 You
 have
 ancestry
 in
 Africa
 and
 you
 have
ancestry
in
America.

So
she
doesn’t
say
it
anymore.

I
think
she’s
okay
with
who
 she
is.

 I
 had
 sought
 out
 a
 congregation
 that
 was
 multi‐racial.
 
 Although
 this
 county
 isn’t
 as
 much
so
as
others,
but
it
certainly
also
has
adoptive
families
and
families
from
a
variety
 of
backgrounds,
that
has
been
a
personal
resource.


 The
kids
think
it’s
funny
because
I
had
a
book
here
on
trans‐racial
adoption.

They
go,
 “Oh,
you’re
worried
about
that
again?”
They
said
a
very
good
thing.

I
said,
you
know,
 “Do
you
ever,
are
you
ever
sad
that
you
don’t
have
a
black
mom?”
A.
said
to
me,
“Are
 you
sad
you
don’t
have
a
white
kid?”

I’m
like,
“Well
no.”

That
was
like
two
years
ago.
I
 just
thought
you’re
absolutely
right,
no,
I’m
not.

 Especially
with
the
race
thing,
I
like
having
two.
I
think
it’s
really
hard.

Wouldn’t
you?

I
 mean
I
would
think
it
would
be
much
harder
for
one
little
girl.

So
I’m
happy
with
the
 two.

From
that
perspective
I
think
it
was
a
good
decision.

 My
daughters
would
come
home
and,
they
were
just
chatty
about
it,
it
didn’t
hurt
their
 feelings
 at
 this
 point,
 but
 saying
 that
 you
 know,
 “Katie
 says
 she
 can’t
 play
 with
 me
 because
 I
 have
 dark
 skin.
 
 She
 can’t
 play
 with
 dark
 skinned
 girls.”
 So
 we
 have
 that.

 Some
of
that
has
started.



IRASS Page 14 of 75

Facilitating
Children’s
Acceptance
of
their
own
Pasts
 Parents
recognize
that
adoptive
children
want
to
and
need
to
talk
about
their
pasts.

 A
parent
must
be
willing
to
talk
about
their
child’s
past
and
know
how
to
talk
about
it
in
a
 reassuring
and
affirming
way.

They
need
to
engage
in
age‐appropriate
conversations
and
 activities
 to
 help
 their
 children
 make
 sense
 of
 their
 pasts.
 
 When
 they
 feel
 threatened
 or
 unsure
 about
 their
 children’s
 desires
 to
 make
 sense
 of
 their
 pasts,
 they
 seek
 out
 people
 who
can
help
them
deal
with
their
children
in
helpful
ways.


They
understand
that
to
make
 sense
of
their
futures,
children
have
to
deal
with
their
pasts.

They
realize
that
talking
about
 their
 child’s
 past
 may
 bring
 up
 issues
 that
 the
 children
 had
 suppressed
 and
 it
 may
 evoke
 emotional
reactions
in
the
children
and
in
them.
 
 The
pasts
of
special
needs
adopted
children
usually
include
instances
of
loss,
neglect
 and
abuse.

Many
adoptive
parents
face
these
issues
head‐on,
knowing
that
ignoring
them
 will
not
be
good
in
the
long‐run.

This
is
how
some
adoptive
parents
have
dealt
with
their
 children’s
pasts:
 • It
is
better
for
them
to
work
through
it
and
cause
a
little
pain
now
than
to
leave
it
for
 later.
 Well,
 why
 would
 you
 want
 them
 to
 see
 their
 birth
 parents
 if
 it’s
 only
 going
 to
 upset
 them?
 
 Well,
 it’s
 going
 to
 help
 them
 work
 through
 it
 so
 that
 they’re
 going
 to
 be
 better
functioning.

They’re
not
going
to
always
wonder.

 We
 got
 shelves
 in
 their
 bedroom.
 They’re
 special
 shelves.
 
 We
 put
 like
 little
 special
 things
they’ve
got.

Like
silver
banks
that
they
received
for
their
adoption
day.

My
son
 got
a
special
book
from
his
teacher
at
his
old
school
and
he
put
up
there.


 We
can’t
hide
the
fact
that
we
adopted.
I
mean,
that’s
how
our
family
started.
So
we
talk
 about
it.
He
knows
why.
We
said
his
mom
is
sick
and
can’t
take
care
of
him.

He’s
now
 getting
to
the
point
where
he’s
starting
to
analyze
that
and
think
about
it.
He
had
some
 confusion
a
couple
months
ago
about,
two
months
ago
maybe,
something
like
that.

He
 asked,
he
told
me
he
was,
you
know,
“Well
as
soon
as
Mommy’s
better
I’m
going
back
 there.”
I’m
like,
“No,
honey,
adoption’s
forever.

I
mean
you
are
here
forever.”
We
had
to
 talk
 about
 that.
 We
 went
 over
 it
 again
 and
 again
 and
 again.
 It
 made
 him
 sad.
 We’ll
 probably
go
through
it.
the
thing
is,
it
came
up
about
a
year
after
he
came
to
live
with
 us.

 I
mean
it
was
hard
because
he
remembered
living
with
his
birth
mom.
He
remembered
 it.
 He
 has
 these
 categories
 in
 his
 mind
 of
 birth
 mom,
 my
 foster
 mom,
 and
 you’re
 my
 forever
mom.


 The
birth
mother
has
even
written
us
a
letter.
She
doesn’t
know
us.

I
mean
it’s
a
blind
 situation.

She
doesn’t
know
who
adopted
her
children.
She
doesn’t
know
where
they’re
 at.

We
did
send
pictures
through
a
social
worker
who
keeps
in
contact
with
her.
So
we
 pass
pictures
too.
Sse’s
been
writing
letters
and
cards
and
stuff,
for
the
boys
when
they
 get
older.
We’ve
got
a
box
of
them
downstairs.
There’s
a
video.
I
haven’t
read
the
letter
 yet.
 That’s
 a
 whole
 another
 thing
 I
 haven’t
 allowed
 myself
 to
 deal
 with
 yet.
 In
 some
 ways
 I
 love
 this
 woman
 because,
 if
 it
 weren’t
 for
 her,
 they
 wouldn’t
 be
 here.
 On
 the


IRASS Page 15 of 75

other
 hand,
 you
 know,
 they
 wouldn’t
 be
 here
 if
 she
 could’ve
 been
 the
 kind
 of
 mother
 they
needed.


 • I
am
working
on
a
book
for
my
children.
I
went
back
and
I
have
found
every
foster
home
 they
have
been
in.

I
have
called
every
single
home.

I
searched
and
searched.

I
met
this
 one
lady,
she
had
my
two
kids
for
a
year.

I
told
her
who
I
was.

I
told
her
who
my
kids
 were
and
said,
“I’m
looking
for
any
information
you
can
give
me
on
their
history.

Like
 what
 they
 did
 at
 your
 home,
 a
 picture.”
 
 She
 said,
 “I
 don’t
 give
 information
 out
 and
 I
 don’t
take
pictures
of
my
kids
and
I’m
not
going
to
talk
to
you.”

You

know
I
felt
like
she
 stole
a
year
of
my
children’s
life.

I
mean
she
owes,
that
was
my
kids
and
that
was
their
 year.

They
have
no
pictures.

They
have
nothing.

They
want
to
know
why.

They
want
 to
know
where
they’ve
been.

So
because
I
didn’t
get
a
favorable
response,
I’m
actually
 going
 around
 and
 taking
 photos
 of
 all
 the
 foster
 homes,
 of
 the
 outsides
 of
 where
 my
 children
lived.

 His
therapist
and
I
have
actually
thought
that
maybe
we
can
try
and
find
her
(the
birth
 mother)
because
if
it
would
help
open
up
any
door
to
resolution,
there’s
nothing
to
lose.


 My
 son
 pretty
 much
 refuses
 to
 talk
 about
 anything
 that
 happened
 to
 him
 prior
 to
 his
 coming
to
my
house.
 The
 most
 insight
 I
 had
 is,
 I
 took
 him
 to
 see
 the
 movie,
 Anton
 Fisher.
 
 I
 don’t
 know
 if
 you’ve
seen
it.
It’s
really
well‐done.

It’s
where
the
young
man
is
in
the
navy
who
keeps
 getting
into
fights.
He
starts
seeing
this
therapist
who’s
played
by
Denzel
Washington.
 Over
 time
 he
 starts
 opening
 up.
 He
 had
 been
 raised
 in
 a
 foster
 family
 and
 was
 pretty
 significantly
abused.
There’s
flashbacks
to
the
abuse.
My
son
turned
to
me,
and
I’d
seen
 the
movie
and
then
taken
him
to
it.
During
that,
during
that
part
of
it,
my
son
turned
to
 me
and
he
said,
“He’s
just
like
me.”
 My
daughter
told
me
she
thought
it
would
make
me
sad
if
she
talked
about
her
past.
I
 told
her,
you
know,
that’s
her
past
and
that’s
fine
with
me
and
we
can
talk
about
it.

So
 now
we
talk
about
it
and
we
just
found
out
last
summer
that
both
of
her
parents
passed
 away.
 I
 told
 her
 when
 she
 gets
 a
 little
 bit
 older
 or
 maybe
 in
 the
 next
 couple
 years,
 because
they’re
from
Chicago,
we’ll
go
there,
and
we’ll
try
to
find
their
burial
sites
and
 we’ll
bring
some
flowers.



Personal
Qualities
 
 The
 Personal
 Qualities
 section
 of
 the
 RASS
 has
 26
 statements
 grouped
 into
 four
 subsections
 –
 sense
 of
 humor,
 flexibility
 and
 adaptability,
 emotional
 capacities,
 and
 resilience.
 
 These
 positive
 inner
 qualities
 are
 most
 often
 found
 in
 adults
 who
 have
 successfully
 dealt
 with
 personal
 struggles,
 are
 willing
 to
 confront
 conflict,
 and
 have
 a
 strong
sense
of
self.
 Sense
of
Humor
 Adoptive
 parents
 must
 have
 the
 ability
 to
 laugh
 at
 themselves
 and
 some
 of
 life’s
 ironies.

Although
some
situations
were
initially
frustrating,
angering,
or
humiliating
they


IRASS Page 16 of 75

can
 often
 look
 back
 at
 them
 later
 and
 see
 the
 humor
 in
 them.
 
 They
 use
 their
 sense
 of
 humor
as
an
emotional
outlet,
to
diffuse
tense
situations,
and
to
make
others
relax
in
their
 presence.

They
sometimes
use
humor
to
get
a
point
across
in
a
more
gentle
way
with
their
 child.


 Adoptive
parents
find
that
having
a
sense
of
humor
helps
them
to
deal
with
some
of
 the
stressful
situations
they
face
in
a
healthy
way.


 • • The
twist
to
all
of
this
is
that
you
just
look
at
life
and
you
got
to
sit
back
and
roll
with
the
 punches
and
laugh.


 We’ve
prepared
them
for
a
lot
of
stuff
by
joking
about
it.

Stuff
like
we’re
always
talking
 like
we’ll
be
embarrassing
them
sometimes.

Which
parents
don’t
embarrass
their
kids
 anyway?
 At
 least
 they
 think,
 oh,
 these
 are
 white
 people.
 
 You
 can
 at
 least
 think
 you
 know,
oh
those
crazy
white
people.

 We’re
always
saying,
“You
can
run
away
because
no
one’s
going
to
think
he’s
your
dad.”
 “You
 guys
 are
 bad
 parents.”
 
 “Did
 you
 know
 you’re
 a
 bad
 parent?”
 
 I’d
 say,
 “Yeah,
 we
 know
that.

We
just
keep
doing
what
you’re
told
to
do.

We
don’t
care.”

Oh,
it’s
classic.

 But
you
know
what,
nothing
makes
you
laugh
louder
than
when
they
say
something
like
 that.

 That’s
where
you
get
the
humor
sometimes
because
at
the
end
of
the
night,
when
you
 go
upstairs,
you
really
either
look
and
laugh
at
it,
and
you
learn
from
it,
and
you
make
 light
of
it.


 You
 know
 people
 talk
 about
 you
 need
 to
 be
 patient
 and
 all
 that
 kind
 of
 stuff.
 I
 think
 that’s
kind
of
garbage.

Because,
you
know
what,
if
you
have
a
sense
of
humor
you
don’t
 necessarily
have
to
be
patient.

What
you
have
to
be
able
to
do
is
laugh
at
yourself
and
 know
 when
 not
 to
 enter
 into
 a
 power
 struggle.
 
 Because
 that
 has
 nothing
 to
 do
 with
 patience.



Flexibility
and
Adaptability
 Adoptive
 parents
 are
 willing
 to
 accept
 that
 things
 are
 not
 working
 out
 well
 and
 willing
to
change
in
order
to
make
things
better.

They
are
willing
to
listen
to
other
people’s
 opinions
of
situations
and
weigh
their
opinions
fairly.

They
are
willing
to
listen
and
hear
 the
 person
 out
 when
 their
 thoughts
 or
 actions
 are
 challenged.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 not
 everyone
 sees
 things
 from
 their
 perspective.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 things
 that
 work
 one
 day
might
not
work
the
next
day
or
what
works
with
one
child
may
not
work
with
the
next
 child.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 there
 are
 some
 things
 that
 will
 not
 change
 or
 improve
 and
 must
 be
 accepted
 and
 coped
 with.
 
 They
 are
 willing
 to
 make
 changes
 in
 their
 schedule,
 routine,
living
situation,
or
surroundings
if
it
improves
life
for
their
family.

They
have
built
 flexibility
 into
 their
 schedules
 and
 they
 try
 to
 account
 for
 unexpected
 problems
 when
 planning.


IRASS Page 17 of 75

Parenting
 involves
 being
 flexible,
 adaptable,
 and
 creative
 in
 order
 to
 meet
 the
 changing
 and
 unexpected
 demands
 of
 parenthood.
 
 Here
 are
 some
 parents’
 examples
 of
 flexibility
and
adaptability:
 • Sunday
night,
once
a
week
we
let
them
sit
here
for
one
minute
with
the
timer
on
and
 say
all
the
swear
words
they
wanted
to.
That
was
it
for
the
week.
Now
we
don’t
do
that
 no
more,
it’s
all
over.

Now
if
they
say
a
swear
word
I’ll
say,
“What
did
you
say?

 We
always
try,
in
our
life,
to
be
flexible,
open
about
things.

Things
flow
more
easily
in
 life.
I
think
it’s
just
better
being
flexible.

 There
are
a
lot
of
meetings.

I
mean
there’s
doctor’s
appointments.

You
have
to
have
a
 flexible
job,
definitely.

Or
no
job.


 We’re
 more
 relaxed
 about
 everything.
 We’re
 not
 so
 concerned
 about,
 well
 as
 you
 can
 see,
the
house
isn’t
as
neat
and
tidy
as
it
used
to
be.

But
the
boys
are
different
too.

Our
 son
used
to
go
around
and
eat
things
off
of
the
floor.
We’re
all
evolving.
You
know
it’s
 taken
some
time
to
adjust.


 You
do
have
to
have
that
creativity
and
sense
of
trying
new
things.
That’s
really
paid
off
 in
 the
 long
 run
 because,
 it
 didn’t
 used
 to
 be
 that
 people
 thought
 aroma
 therapy
 was
 worth
 anything.
 It
 was
 just
 people
 on
 the
 fringe
 that
 were
 all
 those
 weirdoes.
 
 I
 have
 been
 in
 that
 group
 for
 a
 long
 time.
 But
 you
 do
 aroma
 therapy
 for
 kids,
 you
 can
 also
 create
a
positive
thing,
you
can
reinforce
that.

Because
if
you
use
like
lavender
in
their
 room
and
lavender
in
their
oil,
then
that’s
something
that
calms
them,
makes
them
feel
 safe.

It’s
going
to
replace,
but,
and
if
you
put
it
into
their
shirt,
and
they
can
go
like
this,
 they
can
calm
themselves
down.

Or
they’ll
just
have
it
and
it
will
calm
them
down.

You
 sew
it
into
the
inside
of
their
shirt.

So
if
you
tell
people
what
you
would
do
if
your
child
 were
 tantruming
 is
 to
 massage
 them
 with
 lavender
 oil
 or
 lavender
 lotion.
 But
 in
 the
 long
run’s
proved
that
to
be
effective.

So
I
think
that’s
the
other
thing,
too,
of
being
able
 to
look
outside
the
box,
and
being
able
to
not
be
afraid
to
try
something
as
long
as
it’s
 not
dangerous.

 Oh,
we
get
thrown
on
a
regular
basis.

Your
stuff
shows
up.

I
mean,
but
now
we’re
ready
 to
 deal
 with
 it.
 
 You
 know
 if
 something
 unexpected
 comes
 up
 we
 just
 sort
 of
 make
 something
up
as
we
go
along.

 It’s
like,
one
week,
one
day
this
will
work,
the
next
day
it
doesn’t
work
at
all.
The
next
 day,
that’s
the
day
when
you
have
to
say,
okay,
it
has
to
be
this
way.
so
you’ve
got
to
be
 prepared
to
do
that.


You
do
have
to
be
nimble
on
your
mental
feet.

Because
they
do
 unexpected
things.
The
same
thing
with,
not
just
the
negative
stuff,
but
also
the
positive
 stuff
takes
you
by
surprise.



• • •

Emotional
Capacities

 Adoptive
parents
should
have
an
awareness
of
their
emotional
mood
or
disposition
 and
the
factors
that
affect
it.
They
should
be
able
to
express
their
feelings
directly,
honestly,


IRASS Page 18 of 75

and
respectfully.

They
are
aware
of
how
their
emotional
mood
might
affect
others
around
 them
 and
 they
 try
 to
 deal
 with
 their
 bad
 moods
 so
 that
 they
 do
 not
 affect
 others.
 
 When
 other
people
are
highly
emotional,
including
angry
or
hysterical,
they
know
how
to
remain
 calm
and
perhaps
help
them
deal
with
their
feelings.

They
know
when
they
are
about
to
 lose
 their
 cool
 and
 what
 they
 need
 to
 do
 to
 remain
 in
 charge
 of
 their
 emotions.
 
 They
 understand
 how
 children
 can
 figure
 out
 how
 to
 push
 their
 buttons
 and
 make
 them
 lose
 control.

They
understand
the
importance
of
apologizing
to
others,
especially
their
children.

 They
realize
that
showing
their
children
how
they
safely
and
honestly
handle
their
feelings
 is
 important
 to
 their
 emotional
 growth.
 
 They
 realize
 that
 showing
 their
 children
 how
 to
 resolve
 differences
 of
 opinion
 through
 discussion
 and
 compromise
 is
 important
 for
 their
 emotional
 growth.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 suppressing
 and
 not
 handling
 negative
 feelings
 that
all
people
have
does
not
provide
their
children
with
a
positive
role
model
or
example.
 Parenting
 is
 an
 emotional
 experience.
 
 Adoptive
 parents
 are
 dealing
 not
 only
 with
 the
 day‐to‐day
 emotions
 associated
 with
 the
 ups
 and
 downs
 of
 life
 but
 also
 with
 the
 powerful
 emotions
 that
 the
 adoption
 has
 created
 for
 them
 and
 their
 adopted
 children.

 These
are
some
of
the
emotional
situations
they
have
faced:
 • I
think
when
parents
are
only
able
to
focus
on
the
behavior
and
not
the
why
behind
it.

 Then
they’re
not
able
to
reach
that
point
of
empathy
where
they
can
say,
okay,
this
is
 horrible
behavior,
I
hate
this
behavior,
it’s
driving
me
crazy.

BUT
I
have
this
empathy
 because
I
know
that
this
indicates
a
lot
of
pain.


 Well,
I
mean
I
think
the
main
thing
about
being
a
working
mother
is
the
guilt.

 I
think
that
kids
see
through
that
kind
of
stuff.

But
to
say,
“Yeah,
you
really
do
make
me
 mad.
 
 It
 makes
 me
 mad
 when
 you
 do
 that.”
 “But,
 you
 know
 what,
 you’re
 still
 staying
 here,
 but
 you’re
 going
 to
 your
 room
 right
 now,
 or
 you’re
 not
 going
 to
 the
 baseball
 game.”
 
 You
 know.
 
 “But
 don’t
 think
 that
 you’re
 getting
 out
 of
 here.
 
 Don’t
 think
 that
 you’re
going
anywhere
else.”

You
know,
“You’re
still
my
kid.”


 So
 it’s
 against
 my
 rules
 to
 yell.
 
 If
 I
 yell
 it
 means
 I’m
 helpless.
 I
 do
 that
 sometimes,
 anyhow.

I
mean
who
doesn’t?

I
do
that.

But
I
feel
horrible.
I
feel
like,
one
time
I
yell
at
 my
son
and
he
said,
“It
hurts
my
feelings.”

Oh,
that
crushed
my
heart.


 I
was
so
sad.

I
thought,
I’m
not
deserving
of
those
kids.

I’m
a
bad
mom.

I’m
horrible.


 So
 we
 came
 home
 and
 I
 asked
 everybody
 to
 sit
 down
 and
 I
 said,
 “Kids,
 I
 need
 to
 apologize.

I’m
sorry.

It
should
not
have
happened.”
I
said,
“I
promise,
I
am
never
going
 to
 say
 that
 again.”
 He
 looked
 at
 me
 and
 he
 said,
 “Mom,
 you
 know
 what?
 It
 doesn’t
 matter.
Whatever
you
did,
it’s
okay.
I’ll
still
love
you.

Whatever
you’re
going
to
do,
I’ll
 still
love
you
anyhow.”
I
mean
I
was
totally
shocked
because
I
hurt
this
child
and
here
I
 am.
 I
 did
 the
 meanest
 thing.
 
 It
 was
 hard
 for
 him,
 and
 he
 said,
 “It’s
 okay,
 Mom.”
 I
 thought,
this
is
the
best
thing
to
just
apologize.

Kids
know
that
nobody’s
perfect.

They
 can
learn
that
quick,
that
parents
are
not
perfect.


 You’ve
got
to
have
patience,
don’t
take
things
personally
that
they
say.


Don’t
get
caught
 up
in
all
the
little
stuff,
don’t
get
caught
up
in
the
labels.

Don’t
be
afraid,
you
know,
go


• •

IRASS Page 19 of 75

ahead
 and
 plan,
 but
 you
 may
 think
 you
 know
 something,
 you
 don’t
 know
 anything.

 Because
 we
 thought
 we
 knew
 everything.
 We
 read
 the
 books,
 we’re
 good
 to
 go.
 
 The
 practical
experience
is
a
lot.


 • I
made
a
promise
to
my
kids
that
I
would
never
lie
to
them.

Never.
I’ve
had
to
hold
true
 to
what
I’ve
said.

They’ve
asked
me
some
questions
and
if
I
don’t
think
it’s
appropriate
 that
we
talk
about
it
I
say,
“Now
is
not
the
time
for
that.”

But
if
they
ask
me
a
question,
I
 don’t
 lie
 about
 it.
 
 I
 tell
 the
 truth
 of
 what’s
 really
 going
 on.
 
 I
 can
 honestly
 say,
 my
 children
 will
 learn
 respect
 for
 that.
 
 Because
 it’s
 better
 than
 shielding
 them
 from
 the
 truth
and
not
telling
them
the
real
reasons
for
things.

 Well
you
got
to
try
to
have
a
relationship
where
you
can
talk
to
them.

If
you’re
pissed
 off,
 then
 you
 just
 leave
 it
 until
 you’re
 not
 pissed
 off.
 
 Because
 once
 you
 start
 yelling,
 that’s
what
they’re
used
to
in
their
life
before.

Once
you
break
that
cycle,
you
got
that
 bond,
 where
 you
 can
 talk
 to
 them
 and
 it’s
 like,
 “You
 know
 that’s
 wrong.
 I
 don’t
 appreciate
it
and
you
need
to
think
about
stuff
before
you
do
it.”

You
know
once
you
 got
a
relationship
going
things
go
a
lot
smoother.

 Sometimes
they
really
test
you,
too.

I
know
before
my
kids,
they’ll
do
something
they
 know
it’s
wrong
and
they’re
like,
“Well
what
are
you
going
to
do,
hit
me?

I
always
got
 hit
in
my
foster
home
before
when
I
do
stuff.”
I
was
like,
“Oh,
I’m
not
going
to
hit
you.

I
 want
you
to
think
about
it
and
tell
me
why,
the
reason
why
you
do
it.”


 I
think
that’s
the
key.

You
really
need
to
reach
out
to
them.

Because
they’re
not
going
 to
be
reaching
out
to
you
because
of
all
the
bad
stuff
that
has
happened
in
the
past.
So,
 you
know,
whatever
he
feels
comfortable
telling
me,
talking
about,
I’m
willing
to
listen.

 That
 doesn’t
 mean
 that
 I’m
 going
 to
 agree
 with
 everything
 he
 says
 but
 I’m
 willing
 to
 listen.




Resilience


 Adoptive
 parents
 have
 successfully
 coped
 with,
 adapted
 to,
 and/or
 overcome
 adversities
in
their
own
lives.

When
faced
with
a
problem,
they
don’t
give
up,
but
they
look
 for
 solutions
 and
 ways
 to
 deal
 with
 it.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 some
 of
 the
 greatest
 satisfactions
 in
 life
 come
 from
 having
 dealt
 successfully
 with
 difficult
 problems.
 
 When
 looking
back
in
life
they
see
that
some
of
the
characteristics
they
admire
about
themselves
 resulted
from
struggles
and
hard
work.

They
can
identify
and
empathize
with
other
people
 who
 have
 dealt
 with
 difficult
 situations.
 
 They
 do
 not
 use
 adversities
 or
 problems
 as
 excuses
for
not
trying
their
hardest
or
being
the
best
they
can
be.

They
realize
the
things
 they
appreciate
the
most
are
the
things
they
worked
the
hardest
to
obtain.
 Adopted
children
have
resilience
that
enables
them
to
want
to
be
part
of
a
family,
in
 spite
of
what
happened
with
their
birth
families.

Parents
who
have
faced
difficulties
and
 have
overcome
them
can
identify
with
the
situations
of
adopted
children.

Adoptive
parents
 show
their
resilience
in
these
statements:


IRASS Page 20 of 75

I
sat
my
older
kids
down
and
said,
“You

know
this,
this
is
huge.
This
is
huge.”
I
said,
“We
 have
 two
 ways
 to
 respond
 to
 this.
 
 We
 either
 lay
 down
 and
 die
 and
 crawl
 in
 a
 hole,
 which
I
don’t
see
how
that’s
going
to
help,
or
we
get
up
and
we
work
really
hard.”

 You
don’t
want
to
waste
your
life
thinking
about
something
you
have
no
control
over.

 I
 think
 that
 they
 can
 be
 aggressive.
 
 They
 can
 be
 hard
 to
 manage.
 
 They
 can
 be
 disruptive.

But
if
you
had
the
life
that
they’ve
had
to
defend
themselves
all
the
time,
or
 to
get
as
far
as
they’ve
gotten,
in
reality,
they’re
true
survivors.

 I
try
to
tell
him
things
that,
even
the
things
that
we
think
are
not
good
that
happen
to
us,
 we
have
to
learn
to
make
use
of
those
things.


 We
talk
about
a
lot
about
dwelling.

We
say,
you
know
what,
you
could
ruin
your
whole
 life,
and
there
are
some
issues
they’ve
had
with
certain
relatives
in
that
group.

We
talk
 and
say
as
long
as
you
let
it
bother
you,
they’re
still
winning.

 Because
 we
 have
 the
 added
 thing
 of
 most
 of
 these
 kids
 come
 through
 families
 where
 their
former
family
structure
had
to
be
destroyed.

They
had
to
live
through
that.
So
it’s
 not
even
like
death.
The
family
fractures
but
it’s
a
different
way.

 The
willingness
to
make
a
commitment
and
to
really
understand
that
part
of
it
and
to
 have
an
empathy
for
the
child.

I
think
a
lot
of
times
people
have
to
have
had
their
own
 struggles
in
order
to
do
that.



• •

• •

Family
and
Social
Networks
 The
Family
and
Social
Neworks
section
of
the
RASS
has
20
statements
grouped
into
 four
 subsections
 –
 teamwork,
 maintaining
 contact
 with
 biological
 families
 and
 other
 persons
 important
 to
 the
 children,
 willingness
 to
 deal
 with
 reactions
 of
 others
 to
 your
 adoptive
 parent
 status,
 and
 impact
 of
 adoption
 on
 family
 relationships.
 
 In
 addition
 to
 a
 strong
 sense
 of
 self,
 adoptive
 parents
 need
 a
 spouse
 or
 partner,
 friends,
 extended
 family,
 good
childcare,
kid
sitters,
and
respite
care
in
order
to
have
the
support
and
personal
space
 they
need
to
remain
emotionally
healthy.
 Teamwork


 Adoptive
parents
have
developed
routines
and
arrangements
that
share
household
 tasks
 in
 a
 mutually
 fair
 manner.
 
 Their
 partners
 know
 when
 they
 are
 at
 their
 breaking
 points
 and
 know
 how
 to
 step
 in
 to
 help
 them.
 
 Each
 partner
 is
 aware
 of
 the
 other's
 strengths
 and
 shortcomings.
 
 They
 have
 thought
 of
 ways
 they
 can
 still
 have
 some
 time
 alone
once
they
have
children.

They
know
of
resources
for
good
childcare,
kid
sitters,
or
 respite
care.

They
have
family
members
who
have
expressed
an
interest
in
helping
care
for
 their
children
on
an
occasional
or
regular
basis.

They
have
a
close
friend
or
family
member
 who
they
could
call
in
the
middle
of
the
night
to
take
care
of
Their
children
if
an
emergency
 occurred.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 as
 parents
 they
 are
 key
 members
 of
 the
 team
 when
 it
 comes
to
their
children’s
issues
regarding
school,
health,
and
behavior.


IRASS Page 21 of 75

Teamwork
or
having
other
people
who
can
help
care
for
your
children,
is
important
 for
 all
 parents.
 
 For
 parents
 of
 special
 needs
 adopted
 children,
 there
 is
 a
 greater
 need
 to
 have
 other
 people
 who
 are
 willing
 and
 able
 to
 care
 for
 the
 children.
 
 Here
 are
 some
 examples
of
teamwork
mentioned
by
adoptive
parents:
 • Our
family’s
been
very,
very
supportive.

They
help
anytime
we
don’t
have
daycare,
they
 take
 them
 when
 we
 need
 a
 night
 off.
 
 I
 really
 adore
 spending
 time
 with
 the
 kids,
 but
 sometimes,
 you
 know,
 you
 just
 go
 “Aaah‐h‐h,
 you
 guys,
 guess
 what?
 
 Want
 to
 go
 to
 Grandma
and
Grandpa’s
for
the
weekend?”

So
that
Dad
and
I
can
go
out.

 My
 daughters
 help
 me
 a
 lot,
 because
 they
 raised
 her
 also,
 so
 they’re
 always
 doing
 something
 with
 her.
 
 They’re
 actually
 older
 than
 her
 birth
 mother.
 
 Like
 tonight,
 now
 she’s
 taking
 the
 bus
 home
 to
 my
 other
 daughter’s
 and
 she’ll
 spend
 the
 night
 there.
 They’re
 good
 support.
 
 For
 one
 person
 to
 raise
 it’s
 a
 lot
 of
 work.
 You
 almost
 need
 a
 support
system
somewhere.

 My
partner
has
a
schedule
where
he
works
late
on
Monday,
Wednesday
and
Friday.

So
 I
 picked
 both
 boys
 up
 and
 on
 Fridays
 it’s
 our
 night,
 the
 guys
 night
 out.
 
 We
 go
 out
 to
 dinner
and
the
boys,
me
and
the
boys
decide
where
we’re
going.
Usually
it’s
Burger
King
 or
McDonald’s
or
something,
so
they
like
that.

 But
it
was
six
weeks
solid
where
we
were
having
to
take
turns
being
up
at
night.
 Yyu
 could
hold
him
and
rock
him
and
there
was
no
consoling
him.
He
wanted
you
to
hold
 him.
 
 But
 he
 would
 quiet
 down
 for
 a
 little
 while.
 
 But
 if
 you
 put
 him
 back
 in
 bed,
 half
 hour
 later
 he’d
 be
 screaming
 at
 the
 top
 of
 his
 lungs
 and
 just
 be
 sitting
 up
 in
 his
 bed,
 tears
shooting
down
his
face,
just
terrified.


 That
means
he
doesn’t
go
to
daycare
at
my
mom’s.

Because
he
can’t
just
sit
in
a
room
 and
watch
a
movie.
He
always
has
to
be
supervised,
but
it’s
something
I’m
used
to
now.

 At
first
it
was
hard.


 I
have
a
sister
who
helps.
She
adores
them.

So
my
family
has
been
really
good.

I’m
the
 oldest,
 my
 brother
 and
 sister
 don’t
 have
 children.
 So
 they
 were
 just
 so
 happy
 to
 have
 grandchildren.

 It
would
be
one
thing
to
leave
my
other
son
with
somebody
for
a
weekend.
Leaving
my
 adoptive
 son
 with
 somebody
 for
 a
 weekend
 felt
 like
 it
 was
 just
 asking
 such
 an
 enormous
 amount.
 I
 mean
 you
 burn
 through
 your
 friends
 and
 family
 pretty
 darn
 fast
 with
these
kids.

 Well
I
guess
me,
personally,
the
few
times
it’s
been
really
hard,
I
hand
them
off
to
my
 husband.

I
go,
“I’m
done.

I’m
fed
up.

I’m
out
of
here.

They’re
yours.”

You
know
if
I
get
 fed
up,
I’ll
go
up
to
my
room,
I’ll
go
over
to
my
friends’
house.
But
I
can
depend
on
my
 husband
to
take
over.

Which
is
really
great
about
having

two
parents.



IRASS Page 22 of 75

Another
family
who
had
adopted
a
daughter
at
age
eight
and
had
the
usual
interesting
 challenges.
They
were
immediately
very
helpful.
They
kind
of
recognized
who
I
was
and
 what
was
going
on,
and
also
helped
provide
for
me
some
of
that
stuff.
 Even
 now
 the
 foster
 family
 still
 mentors
 him
 and
 provides
 respite
 care
 for
 me.
 
 I
 wouldn’t
have
made
it
without
them.

I
can
tell
H.
that
it’s
not
okay
to
pick
his
nose
but
 when
his
foster
brothers
tell
him
that,
he’ll
believe
them.

 Like
every
night
after
the
boys
go
to
bed
we
always
talk
about
what
the
boys
say
to
us,
 what
the
boys
do.

We
talk
on
the
phone,
probably
three
times
a
day.

You
know,
“When,
 when
you
dropped
J.
off,
how
did
it
go?”
So
that
we
know
what
the
other
one’s
doing.
 We
 agree
 on
 how
 to
 handle
 those
 things.
 There
 has
 to
 be
 a
 compromise
 because
 I’m
 more
 of
 the
 strict
 disciplinarian.
 I
 have
 to
 admit,
 I’ve
 had
 to
 do
 more
 of
 the
 changing
 because
with
kids
you
can’t
be
so
by
the
book.

 My
roommate
is
my
best
friend.
If
one
of
us
is
doing
something
the
other
one
will
keep
 the
kids.

My
son
goes
to
my
mom’s
in
the
day.
I
pick
him
up
after
school.
I
have
a
lot
of
 support.
 
 I
 have
 a
 sister
 and
 she
 has
 a
 two
 year
 old
 also.
 I
 have
 lots
 of
 friends
 and,
 I
 mean,
 we
 all
 do
 things
 together.
 
 So
 I
 will
 never
 have
 to
 worry
 about
 daycare
 of
 babysitters
and
all
that
stuff.

There’s
always
somebody.




Maintaining
 Contact
 with
 Biological
 Families
 and
 Other
 Persons
 Important
 to
 the
 Child(ren)
 Adoptive
 parents
 understand
 why
 it
 is
 important
 for
 a
 child
 to
 know
 and
 acknowledge
his
or
her
past
and
history.

They
know
that
every
adopted
child
thinks
about
 their
 birth
 family
 and
 has
 feelings
 about
 them.
 
 They
 know
 who
 the
 important
 people
 in
 their
 children’s
 pasts
 are
 and
 how
 to
 get
 in
 touch
 with
 them.
 
 They
 know
 how
 to
 initiate
 talks
 with
 their
 children
 about
 their
 biological
 families
 and
 other
 persons
 important
 to
 them.


 As
far
as
is
feasible,
adoptive
parents
maintain
contact
with
biological
families
and
 other
persons
important
to
their
children.

When
it
is
feasible,
they
create
opportunities
for
 their
children
to
maintain
contact
with
siblings
and
any
other
members
of
biological
family,
 such
as
picnics
or
birthday
parties.

They
keep
letters,
pictures,
and
other
mementos
from
 the
children’s
past
and
talk
about
these
mementos
with
their
child.

They
are
even‐handed
 and
kind
to
the
children
when
they
talk
to
them
about
their
biological
families
and
other
 persons
 important
 to
 the
 children.
 
 They
 understand
 which,
 if
 any,
 people
 from
 the
 children’s
pasts
may
be
harmful
to
the
children.


 
 Older
 adopted
 children
 have
 developed
 relationships
 with
 other
 people
 who
 are
 important
 to
 them
 such
 as
 foster
 mothers,
 foster
 siblings,
 teachers,
 and
 birth
 siblings.

 Adoptive
parents
realize
the
importance
of
their
children
maintaining
those
contacts.

Here
 is
what
they
said:
 • I
 was
 sad
 for
 their
 mom.
 
 I
 mean
 she
 didn’t
 set
 out
 to
 be
 a
 horrible
 mother
 or
 a
 bad
 person.



IRASS Page 23 of 75

I
met
his
birth
mother.

She’s
fifteen
and
she
had
him
when,
I
believe,
she
was
thirteen.
 She
 does
 love
 him.
 
 But
 she
 just
 can’t
 care
 for
 him.
 
 She’s
 just
 not
 capable.
 She
 has
 a
 whole
lot
of
issues
and
she
doesn’t
have
any
support.

 Their
foster
parents
kept
making
it
quite
plain
that
we
were
welcome
to
bring
the
boys
 and
drop
them
off
and
let
them
play
there.

But
they
told
us,
“It
might
be
better
for
you
if
 you
just
have
two
or
three
months
without
us
seeing
us.”

We
still
maintain
phone
calls.
 We
still
send
letters.

So
we
put
together
an
album
for
them.

We
took
pictures
almost
 every
 day
 of
 the
 boys.
 
 So
 we
 put
 together
 an
 album
 and
 we
 took
 it
 over
 for
 them
 so
 they
could
see
what
they’d
been
missing.
You
know
the
foster
parents
are
still
part
of
 their
lives,
somebody
they
care
about.

We
still
talk
to
them.

We’ve
got
pictures
of
them
 on
our
walls.


 
I
don’t
look
at
it
as
there’s
somebody
else
and
she
might
like
them
more
than
me
and
all
 that
stuff.

Because,
just
like
with
my
son,
you
know
we
go
to
see
his
mom.

It
doesn’t
 intimidate
me,
and
it
doesn’t
make
me
feel
less
of
a
parent.

But
a
lot
of
people
say
that
 would
be
hard
for
them,
but
I
don't
know
what’s
different
about
it
for
me.

But
I
do
want
 him
to
know
her,
and
I
do
want
him
to
know
that
she
does
love
him,
but
she
just
is
not
 able
to
take
care
of
him.

 She
also
knows
her
father,
but
he’s
been
deported
to
Ethiopia.

So
he
calls
her
once
in
a
 great
while,
but
she
really
isn’t
comfortable
with
it.

She
says
she
doesn’t
know
him.
He
 says
he
loves
her,
and
I’m
sure
he
does
because
he
calls
her
all
the
way
from
Africa.

But
 to
 her
 it
 just
 doesn’t
 mean
 anything
 anymore.
 So
 I
 say
 to
 her,
 “Maybe
 when
 you
 get
 older
and,
you
know,
late
teens
or
something,
and
I’m
still
in
good
health,
maybe
we’ll
 go
over
there
and,
and
you
can
really
meet
him.”

 If
I
had
it
to
do
over
again,
I
would
say
the
mom
could
come
visit
for
an
hour.
When
the
 mom
did
come
I’d
want
her
to
be
happy
and
talk
about
the
positive
things
and
nothing
 about
negative.

Because
these
little
children
worry
about
her
and
that
isn’t
something
 they
need
to
be
doing.




• Some
people
wonder
why
do
I
let
her
go
see
her
foster
mom,
you
know,
that
part’s
over.

 But
that’s
who
took
care
of
her
for
two
years.
I
mean
I
didn’t
know
her
then
but
to
me
 now
it’s
like
she
took
care
of
my
baby
for
me
until
I
got
her,
so
it’s
fine
with
me,
I
don’t
 have
a
problem
with
it.


 • I
also
firmly
believe
in
the
importance
of
my
children’s
birth
families.
Since
we
finalized
 their
adoption
we
have
searched
and
found
the
their
birth
mom.

That’s
a
huge
piece
to
 my
 children.
 We’ve
 had
 written
 contact.
 Unless
 there’s
 something
 that
 prevents
 it,
 I
 would
expect
personal
contact
at
some
point.
I
said,
“____
what’s
the
best
thing
you’d
like
 to
hear
from
your
birth
mom?”

“That
she
loves
me,”
he
said.
She
told
him,
“I
love
you.”
 She
 was,
 she
 wrote
 an
 excellent
 letter
 and
 told
 the
 kids
 that
 she
 couldn’t
 take
 care
 of
 them.
She
never
knew
this
piece
would
be
filled
in
for
her
and
that
she
just
gave
them
 permission
to
become
part
of
this
family.




IRASS Page 24 of 75

Willingness
to
Deal
with
Reactions
of
Others
to
Your
Adoptive
Parent
Status


 Adoptive
parents
can
deal
appropriately
with
others
when
they
make
inappropriate
 comments
 or
 ask
 inappropriate
 questions
 about
 their
 adoptive
 child(ren)
 and/or
 their
 status
 as
 an
 adoptive
 parent.
 They
 can
 respond
 with
 tact
 with
 other
 people
 give
 them
 unsolicited
 advice
 about
 how
 to
 handle
 their
 adopted
 children.
 
 They
 realize
 that
 if
 their
 adopted
 child
 is
 a
 different
 race
 than
 them,
 their
 status
 as
 the
 child’s
 parent
 may
 be
 questioned
 or
 discussed
 by
 others.
 
 They
 take
 a
 proactive
 approach
 to
 their
 status
 as
 adoptive
parents
by
talking
to
their
children’s
friends,
their
classmates,
or
their
teammates
 about
 their
 status.
 
 They
 make
 constructive
 suggestions
 to
 preschools
 and
 other
 settings
 about
how
to
correct
situations
where
they
find
their
children
are
being
treated
unfairly.
 Adoptive
parents
have
various
responses
and
reactions
to
the
comments
and
looks
 they
are
given
by
strangers.

Here
are
some
of
their
comments:
 • We
get
more
funny
looks.

I
find
that
I
get
more,
what
I
feel
are
uncomfortable
looks,
if
 I’m
 by
 myself
 with
 them.
 It’s
 because
 I
 think
 people
 are
 assuming
 I
 have
 an
 African
 American
husband
or
mate.
Having
the
two
African
American
kids,
they
definitely
treat
 me
different.
I
have
complained
and
raised
a
ruckus
with
the
clinic
a
couple
times,
so
I
 think
it’s
as
much
a
class
discrimination,
as
it
is
against
race.

 This
lady
asked
me
what
I
was
doing
with
people
of
color.

My
little
thirteen
year
old
 stepped
 in
 and
 he
 said,
 “What
 have
 you
 been
 looking
 here
 for?”
 I
 was
 like,
 you
 know,
 God.
 
 We
 get
 out
 in
 the
 car,
 and
 I’m
 trying
 not
 to
 laugh.
 
 I
 didn’t
 discipline
 him
 there
 because
I
thought
to
myself,
you
know,
he
loves
me
and
he’s
a
good
person.
I
mean
he
 tried
his
hardest,
but
I
said
to
him,
“You
don’t
talk
like
that
to
people.”

He
goes,
“Well
 she
was
wondering
what
you
were
doing
with
me.”
He
said,
“It’s
not
her
business.
I
was
 going
 tell
 her
 you’re
 my
 mom,
 but
 you
 interrupted
 me.”
 
 I
 go,
 “I
 had
 to
 interrupt
 you,
 because
 I
 can’t
 have
 that
 going
 on
 in
 the
 store.”
 
 He
 goes,
 “But
 I’m
 going
 to
 tell
 her.”

 Well,
guess
who
walked
out
of
the
store?

She
walked
out
of
the
store.

He’s
running
out
 the
door,
trying
to
go
tell
her,
“That’s
my
mom.

That’s
my
mom.”


I’m
like,
“Excuse
me.”


 I
get
him
in
the
car.

I’m
so
embarrassed.

 It’s
happening
at
daycare
with
the
same
age
kids
that
they’re
noticing
that
my
daughter
 and
I
don’t
look
alike.
They’ll
say,
“You
can’t
be
her
mother,”
and
they’ll
say
things
like
 that.

So
it’s
kind
of
for
more
of
an
explanation
than
just
saying,
“Oh,
you’re
adopted,”
 because
they
don’t
really
know
what
that
means.

 
I’ve
had
black
people
come
up
to
me
and
say
to
me,
“You
think
you
can
raise
three
black
 children?”

I
look
at
her,
I
say,
“No,
I
think
I
can
raise
four
and
I
have.”

You
know
I
get
 really
upset
but
it
does
happen.

 When
we
were
driving
through
Iowa
into
Missouri
we
got
lots
of
looks
and
some
open
 hostility.

I
mean,
not
open
hostility,
nothing
said
to
us,
but
it
was,
you
know,
we
cleared
 restaurants.
 
 We
 walk
 in
 and
 everyone
 leaves.
 Right,
 it
 happened
 three
 times
 that
 we
 walked
 into
 a
 restaurant.
 
 By
 the
 time
 dinner
 was
 over
 with
 we
 were
 the
 only
 ones
 there.
 
 
 We’ve
 been
 at
 restaurants
 and
 got
 the
 looks
 and
 you
 can
 see
 the
 people


IRASS Page 25 of 75

whispering
and
looking
our
way.
I
know
what’s
going
on.

I
don’t
care.

As
a
matter
of
 fact,
 I
 think
 they
 need
 to
 have
 their
 minds
 opened
 up.
 We’re
 more
 activists
 by
 our
 lifestyle.
 
 You
 know,
 here
 we
 are,
 ta
 da.
 
 But
 around
 here
 the
 most
 common
 thing
 we
 have
said
to
us,
or
the
most
common
reaction
is,
“You
have
beautiful
children.”
We
also
 have
been
places
where
they
ask
us
if
we
want
the
bills
separate
or
together.

As
if
it’s
 like
he’s
one
dad,
I’m
another
dad,
and
one
kid’s
mine
and
one
kid’s
his.


 • The
best
compliment,
though,
is
when
a
black
woman
goes,
“Your
kid’s
hair
is
adorable,”
 then
you’re
high
fiving
yourself.

That’s
the
ultimate
compliment
because
when
we
went
 to
 the
 racial
 classes,
 they
 said
 that
 is
 the
 number
 one
 thing
 you
 better
 take
 care
 of
 is
 their
hair
because
that
is
a
cultural
thing.



Impact
of
Adoption
on
Family
Relationships
 Adoptive
 parents
 have
 thought
 about
 their
 family
 members’
 reactions
 to
 their
 adoptions
of
children
and
how
that
affects
their
relationships
with
them.

They
realize
that
 not
 everyone
 in
 their
 family
 may
 react
 the
 same
 to
 adopting
 children.
 
 They
 understand
 that
adoption
will
change
their
relationships
with
any
other
children
who
may
be
part
of
 their
 families.
 
 They
 know
 that
 it
 is
 important
 to
 consider
 the
 wishes
 of
 their
 biological
 children
 when
 they
 adopt
 and
 they
 include
 their
 biological
 children
 in
 preparations
 for
 bringing
adoptive
children
into
their
homes.

Their
biological
children
and
extended
family
 are
educated
about
the
issues
and
behaviors
that
the
adoptive
children
may
have.



 They
 understand
 that
 other
 family
 members
 may
 take
 longer
 to
 accept
 Their
 adopted
children
into
their
families.

Their
adopted
children
may
change
family
members’
 perceptions
of
people
of
that
race
or
with
that
disability.

Adopting
a
child
can
sometimes
 stress
or
break
family
relationships
that
were
fragile.
 Adopting
 a
 child
 can
 result
 in
 a
 wide
 range
 of
 reactions
 among
 family
 members,
 some
unexpected
and
some
predictable.

Here
are
some
examples:
 • It’s
been
really
good.

My
parents
are
from
a
town
in
southern
Minnesota
and
there’s
no
 black
 people.
 It’s
 actually
 been
 very
 good
 for
 his
 friends,
 his
 culture,
 that
 town.
 
 He’s
 gone
from
a
man
who
was
suspicious
of
any
race
apart
from
his
own
race.
 My
 son
 didn’t
 want
 me
 to
 adopt
 her.
 
 He
 said
 I
 was
 cheating
 her,
 that
 she
 needed
 a
 mother
and
father.

He
has
children
and
was
against
it
for
a
long
time.

He’s
finally
come
 around
to
it.


 I
 mean
 when
 you
 already
 have
 an
 older
 child
 and
 he
 knows
 he’s
 the
 oldest,
 or
 she
 knows
she’s
the
oldest,
to
adopt
a
child
older
than
that
would
be
hard
for
them.


 When
 I
 first
 got
 my
 daughter
 it
 was
 crazy.
 
 Everything
 she
 thought
 she
 wanted
 they
 were
buying,
they
were
buying,
they
were
buying.

Every
time
we
went
to
the
mall,
you
 know,
everybody
was
bringing
bags
of
stuff.
I
told
them
with
R.
that
we’re
not
doing
all
 that.

Because
I
don’t
have
anywhere
to
put
all
that
stuff.
I
mean
they’re
very
supportive,
 and
they’re
real
excited
about
it.

But
with
S.,
it
was
a
zoo.

She
had
two
baby
showers.

I


• •

IRASS Page 26 of 75

mean
 everybody
 was
 excited
 because
 it
 was
 the
 first
 time
 anyone
 in
 our
 family
 had
 adopted.


 • My
sister
says
right
now,
“You’ve
got
to
be
out
of
your
mind,
at
fifty‐six
years
old
and
 adopted
a
four
year
old
kid?

You’re
crazy.

Do
you
know
what
you’re
giving
up?”

Yeah,
 but
this
baby
needs
somebody
to
love
him,
too.
I
have
a
lot
of
that
to
give.

I
can’t
think
 of
 a
 better
person
 to
give
it
 to
 a
little
child.
 
I
think
we’ve
 probably
 been
each
 other’s
 band‐aide,
I
like
to
call
it.

He’s
healed
some
wounds
that
I
had,
and
I
like
to
think
I’ve
 healed
some
of
his.

 Well,
there’s
another
parent
and
actually
I
should
call
her.

She
basically
chose
between
 her
marriage
and
keeping
the
kids.

I’m
not
sure
that
in
her
eyes
she
feels
that
she
made
 the
right
choice.


 From
what
I
can
tell
right
now,
it’s
cool
for
us.
It’s
really
enriched
our
life.

My
husband’s
 mom
is
in
northern
Maine.
There’s
hardly
any
black
people.

She
is
so
good,
she’s
got
us
 black
nativities.
She’s
got
black
Santas.

She
buys
cards
that
she
has
to
kind
of
look
for.

 It’s
 been
 great
 for
 us.
 
 A
 funny
 story,
 she
 works
 for
 a
 storage
 company.
 There’s
 like
 truckers
 that
 come
 in
 and
 drop
 wares
 and
 stuff
 off.
 
 She’s
 working
 with
 these
 kind
 of
 gruff
 guys.
 Somebody
 said
 something
 about
 this
 colored
 guy.
 
 Her
 friend
 said,
 “Somebody
 said
‘colored.’
 You’re
not
 supposed
to
 say
 ‘colored.’”

 You
know
 so
in,
in
 a
 way
it’s
like
touched
people
that
you’d
never
think.

 A
funny
story
about
that
though
is
that
my
son
is
eleven
now,
but
he
has
always
been
 very
concerned
about
this‐‐if
we’re
going
to
tell
the
girls
they’re
adopted.

He’ll
say,
all
 the
time,
he’s
still
kind
of,
“Are
you
going
to
tell
them
they’re
adopted?”

It’s
like,
“Well,
 yeah,
don’t
you
think
we
should?”

You
know
he
just
doesn’t
catch
on
to
the
race
piece
 being
an
indication
of
it.
He
doesn’t
see
it.

 You
don’t
know
how
kids
are
going
to
mesh.

 In
 a
 way
 it’s
 probably
 been
 okay.
 
 Now
 the
 boys
 in
 the
 family
 are
 one
 of
 the
 biggest
 benefits
 for
 the
 girls.
 They
 spend
 a
 lot
 of
 time
 with
 them.
 That’s
 probably
 the
 most
 common
comment
we’ve
had
from
people,
just
how
good
the
boys
are
to
these
girls.

 I
knew
because
of
the
adopted
son’s
behavior
our
other
son
was
embarrassed
to
have
 anybody
over.



• •

Values,
Expectation,
and
Beliefs
 The
Values,
Expectations,
and
Beliefs
section
of
the
RASS
has
20
statements
grouped
 into
 five
 subsections
 –
 altruism,
 realistic
 expectations
 about
 yourself
 and
 the
 children,
 admiration
of
the
children,
spirituality,
and
sense
of
future.

Personal
values
both
guide
and
 support
 adoptive
 parents
 in
 making
 decisions.
 
 They
 are
 a
 touchstone
 for
 parents,
 constantly
reminding
them
of
what
is
really
important
and
why
they
make
the
choices
they
 do.


IRASS Page 27 of 75

Altruism



 One
 of
 the
 main
 reasons
 adoptive
 parents
 want
 to
 adopt
 is
 because
 they
 want
 to
 help
or
do
something
good
for
children
in
need.

They
view
having
a
child
as
an
opportunity
 to
give
and
share
the
good
things
in
life
as
a
family.

They
realize
it
is
not
the
children’s
fault
 that
 they
 are
 not
 part
 of
 a
 family
 and
 they
 feel
 that
 every
 child
 deserves
 to
 be
 part
 of
 a
 loving
family.
 
 Many
parents
adopt
children
because
of
their
compassion
and
unselfish
concern
for
 children.

Here
are
some
statements
that
demonstrate
their
altruism:
 • We
just
felt
like
two
children
were
enough
to
bring
in
the
world
and
we
just
could
make
 room
in
our
lives
for
another
child.
Also
in
the
home
study
and
interviews
talked
a
lot
 about
race
and
a
really
strong
commitment
to
kind
of
embracing
that
and
looking
at
it
 as
an
enriching
thing
for
us.
So
really
looking
at
that
we
would
be
a
new
type
of
family,
a
 multi‐racial
family
rather
than,
we
would
no
longer
be
a
Caucasian
family.


 I
believe
everybody
deserves
a
chance.
I
don’t
think
that
these
children
have
really
been
 dealt
a
fair
hand.




• •

My
 heart
 goes
 out
 to
 all
 these
 kids
 and
 when
 I
 find
 out
 some
 of
 the
 stuff
 that
 they
 go
 through,
 it’s
 like
 here’s
 something
 I
 can
 do.
 Because
 I
 was
 in
 a
 stable
 place
 in
 my
 life.

 I’m
married.
I
have
a
job.
I
know
that
I
would
be
able
to
do
it.


 Realistic
Expectations
about
Yourself
and
the
Children


 Adoptive
 parents
 understand
 their
 own
 limitations
 and
 shortcomings.
 
 They
 understand
 and
 accept
 the
 limitations
 and
 shortcomings
 of
 their
 partners
 and
 their
 children.

They
realize
that
it
is
natural
for
a
parent
to
have
expectations
for
their
children
 and
 they
 realize
 that
 sometimes
 those
 expectations
 are
 based
 more
 on
 parental
 desires
 than
the
desires
of
the
children.

They
realize
that
some
of
the
expectations
they
have
for
 their
 children
 may
 be
 unattainable.
 
 They
 understand
 that
 they
 cannot
 live
 vicariously
 through
their
children.


 They
realize
that
their
children
may
have
dreams
and
aspirations
that
conflict
with
 what
 they
 would
 like
 them
 to
 do.
 
 They
 allow
 their
 children
 to
 have
 their
 own
 personal
 experiences
without
comparing
them
to
their
experiences
or
those
of
other
children.

They
 understand
that
their
children
are
unique
and
that
their
capabilities
and
experiences
also
 are.

They
are
willing
to
admit
that
sometimes
their
expectations
are
unrealistic
and
they
 need
to
change
them.
 
 Every
 parent
 struggles
 to
 set
 expectations
 and
 goals
 for
 their
 children
 that
 are
 realistic
 and
 challenging,
 yet
 attainable.
 
 Sometimes
 parents
 aren’t
 aware
 of
 all
 of
 their
 unspoken
 expectations
 until
 they
 are
 faced
 with
 a
 child
 or
 situation
 that
 conflicts
 with
 those
ideals.

These
are
some
of
the
realizations
of
adoptive
parents:
 • He’s
too
high
risk.

I
mean
I
can’t
safely
parent
him.
I
offered
to
help
him
with
food
and
 shelter.
He
was
very
discouraged.




IRASS Page 28 of 75

There
comes
a
point
where,
I
mean
I
can’t
fix
the
world.

I
can’t
fix
everything.

I
can’t
fix
 every
kid.

There
are
things
I
can’t
do.
There
are
things
every
parent
can’t
do.
There
are
 some
kids
that
are
not
going
to
live
in
families.

 Regardless
of
how
much
you
understand
and
how
much
you
read
this,
you
still
have
a
 fairytale
fantasy
whenever
you
adopt.

 Who
knows
if
they
weren’t
being
assaulted
or
somebody
was
hurting
them
at
the
time,
 doing
something
to
them
that
made
that
happen.

So,
I
would
just
say
try
to
find
out
all
 the
situations
and
assess
it
before
you
make
your
decision
based
on
that.
I
think
that’s
 an
unfair
label.

 Because
you
can’t
expect
them
to
come
into
your
house
and
to
love
you
instantly.

 The
 only
 difference
 is
 if
 you
 adopt
 them
 older
 is
 you
 can’t
 compare
 them
 to
 your
 children
 because
 they’re
 coming
 with
 baggage
 and
 they’re
 different
 and
 probably
 you
 have
to
start
parenting
all
over
again,
do
things
differently.

 They
will
steal.

They
will
lie.
You
got
to
build
that
trust
where
you
say,
just
don’t
lie
to
 me,
tell
me
the
truth.

I’m
not
going
to
do
stuff.
I’m
not
going
to
be
mad
at
you.
I’m
not
 going
to
hit
you.


 I
mean
do
we
have
problems?

Yeah.

Are
we
always
going
to
have
problems?

Yeah.

I
 mean
I’m
learning
to
walk
away
and
just
kind
of
laugh
in
some
ways.

The
one
little
girl
 who
 I
 knew
 would
 be
 the
 handful,
 even
 though
 she
 was
 pegged
 as
 not
 as
 much
 as
 a
 handful,
I
said
to
our
worker,
I
said,
“I
can
tell
from
that,
she’s
going
to
be
the,
the
real
 handful.”

And
she
has.
She’s
been
the
most
challenging.


 I
think
you
need
to
do
a
realistic
job
of
saying
these
are
the
joys
and
these
are
the
real
 challenges.
These
are
the
issues
in
many
cases.


 Some
percentage
of
these
kids
are
so
severely
disturbed
that
they
may
never
be
able
to
 handle
 family
 relationships
 or,
 for
 the
 safety
 of
 the
 family
 or
 the
 neighborhood
 they
 have
to
be
somehow
restrained.

 I
 feel
 when
 I
 talk
 to
 friends
 or
 other
 parents
 and
 they’ll
 say
 things
 like,
 “Well
 he’s
 probably
 doing
 better,”
 or,
 “You
 think
 he’ll
 get
 better.”
 The
 honest
 answer
 is
 I
 don't
 know
that
he
will.



• •

• •

• •

Admiration
of
the
Children
 Adoptive
 parents
 appreciate
 and
 admire
 the
 resilience
 their
 children
 have
 had
 to
 survive
the
difficulties
in
their
lives.

They
appreciate
their
children’s
willingness
to
be
part
 of
a
new
family,
when
previous
family
experiences
may
not
have
been
positive.

They
want
 to
provide
their
children
with
opportunities
to
develop
their
interests
and
their
emotional
 capacities,
 and
 to
 become
 all
 that
 they
 are
 able
 to
 become.
 
 They
 can
 recognize
 the


IRASS Page 29 of 75

strengths
and
talents
of
their
children.

They
admire
their
children
for
being
willing
to
be
 loved
by
them,
without
any
guarantee
of
success.
 
 Nearly
 all
 special
 needs
 adopted
 children
 have
 faced
 obstacles
 that
 would
 test
 the
 emotional
 capacities
 of
 adults.
 
 In
 addition
 to
 their
 children’s
 athletic,
 scholastic,
 and
 artistic
accomplishments,
adopted
parents
acknowledge
the
strength
and
resilience
of
their
 adopted
children:
 • • Because
the
adopted
twins
were
open.

I
say
it
was
because
they
were
brave.

They
were
 brave
and
they
were
open.
 
I
 say
 my
 kids
 are
 beyond
 special
 needs.
 They’re
 extraordinary
 kids
 because
 knowing
 what
they’ve
gone
through
and
the
fact
that
they’re
still
standing
makes
them
an
extra‐ ordinary
kids.

 They
teach
you.


That’s
the
key
right
there.

THEY
teach
you.

Because
you
look
back
to
 their
background
and
you
think,
how
in
the
world
could
you
as
a
child
,

whatever
age
 your
 children
 area
 at,
 whatever
 age
 mine
 are.
 
 You
 think,
 look
 at
 your
 three
 year
 old,
 feeding
a
baby
a
hot
dog.

Something’s
going
on
there
that
that
child
knew
that
this
baby
 needed
to
eat.
They
know.

I
can
hear
stories
that
my
fifteen
year
old
has
told
me
being
 in
foster
care
to
the
age
of
twelve,
she
knows
a
whole
lot
more
than
anything.

She
has
 seen
it
all
and
she
has
told
me
things
that
I
know
I
would’ve
turned
my
back
and
said,
 “Uhuh,
I’m
not,
I’m
not
going
to
be
here
tomorrow.

I’m
not.”

I
mean
to
have
people
do
 the
things
they
do
to
you.

 They’re
going
to
become
what
they
want
to
become.

You
can
only
help
them
to
do
what
 they
 really
 want
 to
 do.
 I’ve
 seen
 my
 four
 kids
 go
 from
 some
 horrendous
 backgrounds
 into
now
being
a
volunteer
at
a
hospital
for
three
years.
I
mean
it’s
just
so
remarkable
 once
 you
 help
 them
 with
 stability
 and
 see
 what
 love
 does
 to
 somebody,
 and
 stability
 and
a
little
bit
of
guidance.

They
all
change,
and
probably
so
will
their
goals,
and
what
 they
want
to
change.
 He’s
just
very
creative.
He
will
sit
and
talk
and
read.
He’s
very
into
creative
play
and

a
 lot
 of
 stories.
 
 He
 can
 sit
 upstairs
 and
 pull
 his
 dinosaurs
 out,
 and
 he’ll
 this
 elaborate
 hours‐long
story
going
on.

He’s
content
to
do
that.
He’ll
do
it
for
hours.
He
can
tell
you
 at
any
time
what
each
little
character
is
doing.


 Our
 children
 are
 absolutely
 the
 best
 children
 in
 the
 entire
 world.
 They
 play
 together.
 They’re
 adorable.
 
 Everybody
 talks
 about
 how
 wonderful
 they
 are.
 They
 play
 quietly.

 They’ll
sit
and
watch
movies.

Sit
next
to
each
other
and
play
nicely.


 He
 has
 a
 WONDERFUL
 smile.
 He’s
 a
 very
 affectionate
 child.
 He’s
 inquisitive.
 
 He
 asks
 lots
 of
 questions.
 He
 doesn’t
 forget
 the
 answers.
 He’s,
 he’s
 a
 tall
 guy
 for
 his
 age.

 Everybody
takes
him
for
six
or
seven.
He
just
turned
five
in
February.
I
think
he’s
going
 to
probably
be,
if
not
a
writer,
he’s
going
to
be
either
a
gymnast
or
musician.




Spirituality



IRASS Page 30 of 75

Adoptive
parents
realize
some
things
are
beyond
their
control.

Although
they
have
 felt
hurt
and
had
losses,
they
are
willing
to
look
for
something
positive
to
draw
from
such
 experiences.

They
know
without
a
doubt
that
things
will
work
out
in
the
end
if
they
just
 trust
and
believe.

Some
adoptive
parents
draw
strength
from
the
knowledge
that
there
is
a
 higher
power
who
has
a
purpose
for
all
people
and
events.

They
know
that
through
prayer
 and
reflection
answers
to
difficult
questions
become
clearer.

They
feel
a
sense
of
purpose
 in
their
decisions
to
adopt
their
children.

 
 The
 faith
 and
 spirituality
 of
 adoptive
 parents
 is
 often
 a
 source
 of
 comfort
 and
 strength
when
they
face
difficulties
and
decisions.

Here’s
how
their
spirituality
affects
their
 roles
as
parents:
 • My
faith
really
is
an
integral
part.

Without
my
dependence
on
God,
I,
couldn’t
do
this.
I
 get
a
lot
of
strength
and
I’m
able
to
keep
going,
because
that’s
where
I
put
my
trust
and
 that’s
where
I
put
my
faith.

 You
know
we’re
a
big
fan
of
things
happen
because
they’re
supposed
to.
It’s
more
that
 so
many
things
have
happened
just
because.

I
mean
partially
spirituality,
but
it’s
more
 than
that.

It’s
not
quite
spirituality.
It’s
just
kind
of
the
belief
that
we
have
that
things
 happen
for
a
reason.

 Faith
helps.

Having
faith
is
very
important
–
it
helps
us
get
through
hard
days.

We
feel
 called
to
what
we
do.
Most
of
our
warm
fuzzies
come
from
above.

 We
actually
put
the
little
ones
to
sleep
together.

We
have
family
devotional
where
we
 just
read
stuff,
like
Bible
stories.

We
have
questions
in
the
end
like,
“Why
did
this
child
 do
this,”
or,
“Why
did
this
person
act
out
that
way?”

You
know
we
ask
the
kids.

 Well
I
think
it
would
be
absolutely
impossible,
I
don't
know
how
you
would
enter
into
 raising
these
kids
without
some
fundamental
belief
system
that
allows
you
to
kind
of
let
 go.

I
do
mean
that,
I
mean
I
’m
not
a
very
religious
person.

I
mean
I
certainly
attend
 church,
but
there
is
a
point
at
which
you
say,
God,
I
have
done
everything
I
know
how
to
 do.
It’s
in
your
hands
now.


 That’s
 understanding
 of
 what
 religion
 is,
 because
 I
 view
 it
 as
 greater
 than
 just
 the
 church
 or
 any
 of
 that
 kind
 of
 stuff.
 It’s
 that
 you
 have
 an
 idea
 that
 there’s
 something
 larger
 than
 yourself.
 You
 have
 an
 idea
 that
 there’s
 an
 idea
 that
 there’s
 a
 possibility
 of
 change
and
expectancy
so
that
you
can
go
to
bed
and
say
tomorrow
will
be
another
day.
 You
understand
that
you
can
literally,
and
you
can
say
this
to
the
kids,
you
convey
this
 to
the
kids,
you
can
wipe
the
slate
clean.

That
doesn’t
mean
that
kids
can
wipe
the
slate
 clean
of
egregious
errors,
but,
you
say
to
them,
“You
know,
okay,
you
took
a
kid’s
pencil
 today.
You
know
what,
you
lied
about
it.

That’s
not
a
good
thing,
is
it?”
But
tomorrow
is
 a
 new
 day.
 You
 can
 start
 all
 over
 again.
 You
 always
 have
 that
 ability
 to
 make
 things
 different.
 
 Instead
 of
 saying,
 “You’re
 always
 lying.
 You’re
 always
 going
 to
 be
 a
 liar.
 You’re
never
going
to
change.”





• •

IRASS Page 31 of 75

Sense
of
the
future
 Adoptive
 parents
 think
 and
 plan
 for
 questions
 their
 children
 may
 have
 regarding
 race,
biological
family,
and
adoption.

They
plan
for
their
children
to
become
independent
 and
live
on
their
own,
if
possible.

They
plan
for
their
children’s
education
by
saving
money.

 They
make
arrangements
for
the
care
of
their
children
should
they
become
incapacitated
 or
die.

They
encourage
their
children
to
think
about
how
their
actions
now
may
affect
their
 future,
 such
 as
 getting
 good
 grades
 enabling
 them
 to
 get
 into
 college
 or
 not
 using
 birth
 control
resulting
in
pregnancy.
 Parents
plan
for
their
children’s
futures,
in
terms
of
their
safety,
welfare,
education,
 and
unexpected
emergencies.

Adoptive
parents
also
must
plan
for
the
questions
that
their
 children
will
have
about
their
pasts.

Thinking
about
their
children’s
futures,
here
are
some
 thoughts
they
have:
 • We
even
get
in
the
huge
future
parent
things.

I
mean
you
can’t
believe
the
time
we’ve
 talked
 about
 commitment.
 We
 talk.
 I
 mean
 you
 can
 see
 what
 we’re
 dealing
 with
 here.

 You
know
like
girls
calling.

So
we
deal
with
that.
Then
I
talk
about
sex,
and
I
say,
“You
 know
 what,
 you
 make
 whatever
 choice
 you
 want
 to
 make,
 but
 I’m
 going
 to
 tell
 you
 something
right
now.
You
will
take
care
of
that
kid.

You
will
raise
it.

As
long
as
I’m
on
 this
planet,
you
will
be
a
parent
because
you
will
have
to
deal
with
me
as
a
parent.

So
 I’m
going
to
tell
you
something,
you
‘re
going
to,
you
see
what
Dad
does,
gets
up,
works,
 cleans,
go
to
work,
comes
home,
cleans,
cooks.
What
we
do,
that’s
what
you’re
going
to
 have
to
do
at
a
young
age
if
you
chose
to
make
that
move.

I’m
going
to
make
damn
sure
 you
do
it.”
 There’s
certainly
is
some
evidence
that
a
lot
of
adopted
kids
or
foster
kids
are
well
into
 their
 twenties
 before
 kind
 of
 they
 reach
 whatever
 that
 maturity
 is
 that
 happens
 for
 other
kids
a
lot
earlier.


 We
were
talking
one
day
and
she
said,
“You
know
the
kind
of
guy
I
want
to
marry?”
I
 said,
“No.”

She
said,
“I
don’t
care
what
color
he
is,
but
I
prefer
it
if
he
brown,
but
he
has
 to
be
good
to
me
and
he
has
to
have
a
good
job.”


 We
were
talking
about
should
we
add
on
to
the
house.
Do
we
move?

Well,
if
we
move
 we’ve
 got
 to
 do
 it
 soon
 because
 I
 want
 the
 boys
 to
 have
 roots.
 I
 want
 them
 to
 have
 school
friends
that
they
had
from
kindergarten
through
high
school.

So
they
have
that
 connection.

 He’s
living
independently
and
I’m
not
his
care
provider
in
anyway.

That
was
a
decision
 with
all
of
my
children.

I’ll
be
their
parent,
as
a
mom
they’ll
come
home
to.

But
I’m
not
 going
to
be
responsible
financially
for
their
care.

 We
 built
 an
 addition
 on
 to
 our
 house,
 another
 house
 really,
 where
 our
 daughter
 lives
 with
 her
 two
 children.
 
 She
 has
 fetal
 alcohol
 effects
 and
 can’t
 live
 on
 her
 own.
 Her
 children
have
good
neurological
functioning
and
they’re
doing
well.

We’re
in
our
sixties
 now,
and
we
will
parent
her
and
her
children
until
the
end
of
our
lives.


IRASS Page 32 of 75

Creating
Healthy
Environments
 The
Creating
Healthy
Environments
section
of
the
RASS
has
10
statements
grouped
 into
 three
 subsections
 –
 play,
 hobbies,
 sports,
 and
 recreation;
 physical
 environment;
 and
 personal
 resources.
 
 
 Children
 need
 the
 opportunities
 to
 safely
 play
 with
 friends;
 to
 participate
in
sports
or
activities;
and
to
be
alone
to
read,
play
or
daydream.

Parents
need
 to
have
the
resources
to
find
or
create
those
opportunities
for
their
children.
 Play,
Hobbies,
Sports,
and
Recreation

 Adoptive
 parents
 enjoy
 playing
 games
 and
 having
 fun
 with
 their
 children.
 
 Their
 families
 have
 regular
 physical
 activity
 that
 they
 do
 together
 weekly
 such
 as
 going
 to
 the
 swimming
pool
or
going
on
a
bicycle
ride.

They
realize
that
playing
together
as
a
family
is
 as
 important
 as
 working
 together.
 
 They
 look
 for
 activities
 that
 all
 family
 members
 will
 enjoy
 doing
 together.
 
 They
 are
 willing
 to
 learn
 new
 sports
 and
 hobbies
 in
 order
 to
 participate
in
them
with
their
children.

They
attend
their
children’s
soccer
or
ball
games
as
 a
 family
 and
 cheer
 for
 their
 children.
 
 They
 teach
 their
 children
 good
 sportsmanship
 and
 that
 winning
 is
 not
 important
 so
 that
 the
 children
 find
 pleasure
 in
 playing
 sports.
 
 They
 encourage
 their
 children
 to
 try
 new
 sports
 and
 activities
 that
 may
 increase
 their
 skills.

 They
plan
vacations
or
trips
to
include
activities
for
all
members
of
the
family.

They
have
a
 variety
of
board
games
and
other
types
of
toys
that
their
families
can
play
together.

They
 know
word
games
that
can
be
played
in
the
car
or
while
waiting
at
a
restaurant
to
pass
the
 time.


 Some
of
the
joys
of
parenting
are
participating
in
activities
with
children,
teaching
 them
sports,
or
sharing
fun
experiences.

Parents
search
to
find
those
activities
where
their
 children
can
have
fun
and
build
their
sense
of
competency.

Here
are
some
examples:
 • • We
did
basketball,
we
did
t‐ball,
and
we
did
soccer
and
four
pitch,
but
they
don’t
have
 like
a
team
mentality.

The
twins
are
very
into
themselves,
each
other.

 When
they
first
moved
in,
we
took
three
days
and
we
took
them
to
the
water
parks
in
 Wisconsin
Dells.
It
was
great.

We
had
a
wonderful
family
time.

The
kids
just
loved
it,
 and
they
still
have
lots
of
memories.

It’s
the
first
thing
we
did
as
a
family.

 I
 was
 dying.
 For
 years
 there
 was
 never
 sports
 at
 our
 house.
 Now
 we’ve
 got
 Sunday
 football.

We’ve
got
our
football
time,
and
it’s
very
special.

One
son
has
his
jersey
hats
 to
wear,
and
he
has
a
little,
tiny,
stuffed
football.
All
he
does
is
run
plays
and
throw
the
 ball.

I
hate
to
say
toss
because
he’s
throw
a
perfect
spiral.

 At
least
once
a
week
we
go
out
to
eat
or
the
kids
will
go
to
Camp
Snoopy.

What’d
we
do
 this
weekend?

We
went
shopping,
we
took
them
out
to
eat,
we
went
to
the
amusement
 park
this
weekend.

We
go
to
my
mom’s.

We
just
do
stuff,
go
to
parks.

So
we’re
always
 out,
and
they
have
a
trampoline
in
the
backyard.




IRASS Page 33 of 75

We
live
close
to
a
nice
walking
trail
through
a
couple
of
parks
and
a
school
playground.

 Actually
there
are
several
parks
near.

Sometimes
on
the
way
home
when
I
pick
him
up
 from
daycare,
“Mom,
can
we
stop
at
the
park?”
I’ll
just
sit
there
and
watch
him
play.




Physical
Environment

 Adoptive
parents
are
willing
to
put
away
the
breakable
things
and
adjust
furniture
 to
 make
 their
 homes
 safe
 and
 comfortable
 for
 children,
 although
 it
 may
 go
 against
 their
 decorating
 standards.
 
 Every
 family
 member
 has
 a
 place
 they
 can
 go
 to
 be
 alone
 where
 others
 will
 respect
 their
 need
 for
 privacy.
 
 Parents
 have
 installed
 gates,
 outlet
 plugs,
 and
 other
 safety
 devices
 to
 make
 their
 homes
 safe
 for
 young
 children
 and
 some
 parents
 have
 built
 a
 playground,
 fort,
 or
 recreational
 area
 in
 their
 yards.
 
 The
 neighborhood
 has
 parks
 and
playgrounds
open
to
the
public
and
parents
know
other
families
in
the
neighborhood
 with
children
of
the
same
age.

Parents
are
willing
to
make
changes
in
the
structure
or
size
 of
their
homes
to
accommodate
their
children.

Their
children
helped
to
select
some
of
the
 furnishings
or
decorations
for
their
bedrooms.

Some
parents
may
not
mind
having
a
large
 cardboard
 box
 pretending
 to
 be
 a
 house/rocket/school
 bus
 in
 the
 middle
 of
 their
 living
 rooms.
 
 Children
need
a
space
to
call
their
own
and
an
environment
that
allows
them
to
be
 children,
without
concerns
for
their
safety
of
the
safety
of
valued
possessions.

Some
special
 needs
 adopted
 children
 need
 to
 have
 specific
 physical
 accommodations
 to
 assure
 their
 safety.
 
 These
 are
 some
 comments
 adoptive
 parents
 have
 made
 about
 their
 physical
 environments:
 • We
just
needed
to
make
sure
our
living
stuff
was
very
simplified
and
enough
space
for
 the
four
kids.

We
decided
that
being
in
town
would
be
better
for
the
boys
riding
their
 bikes
and
stuff.

 The
 neighborhood
 in
 the
 whole
 is
 very
 supportive
 and
 kind
 of
 watches
 out
 for
 each
 other.

 I
would
say
sometimes
to
D.,
“You
know
what,
just
let
him
be
in
that
room
and
go
play
 somewhere
 else.”
 I
 would
 say,
 “Okay,
 you
 can
 go
 to
 my
 room
 and
 stay
 in
 my
 room.”
 I
 would
say
to
D.,
“Don’t
go
there.

Don’t
bother
him.

He
wants
to
be
by
himself.”
D.
would
 respect
that.

As
a
matter
of
fact,
he
started
to
say,
“Well,
I
want
my
room,
too.
I
want
to
 read,
too.”
When
we
moved
to
this
house,
J.
had
his
favorite
chair
that
we
moved
to
his
 room.

With
the
lamp
where
he
would
sit
and
read.

He
said,
“I
want
chair
and
lamp
to
 sit
 and
 read.”
 
 So
 I
 got
 for
 him
 lamp
 and
 chair
 
 and
 a
 bookshelf
 where
 we
 put
 some
 books.
I
said,
“Here,
you
can
read.”

So
now
when
J.
would
go
and
have
a
reading
time,
I
 would
say,
“D.,
why
don’t
you
go
downstairs
and
read,
too.”

 We
had
to
have
all
the
gates
because
he
couldn’t
climb
up
or
down
stairs,
but
he
could
 climb
the
gates.



• •

IRASS Page 34 of 75

Personal
Resources
 Adoptive
parents
know
how
to
obtain
help
when
they
need
it
through
local
agencies,
 informal
 networks,
 or
 the
 internet.
 
 They
 have
 the
 financial
 resources
 and
 health
 care
 benefits
 to
 get
 the
 services
 their
 families
 need.
 
 They
 are
 familiar
 with
 the
 resources
 available
to
adoptive
parents
and
how
to
access
them
and
they
know
how
to
advocate
for
 resources
 their
 children
 should
 have.
 
 They
 know
 about
 support
 groups
 for
 adoptive
 parents
or
are
willing
to
start
one
themselves.
They
have
jobs
that
allow
flexibility
in
terms
 of
being
able
to
have
the
time
to
attend
to
parenting
duties.

They
have
the
resources
such
 as
transportation
and
childcare
that
enable
them
to
get
their
children
to
the
services
they
 need.
 
 Being
 a
 parent
 results
 in
 the
 need
 for
 additional
 personal
 resources
 such
 as
 time,
 space,
 and
 money
 in
 order
 to
 adequately
 meet
 the
 needs
 of
 your
 children.
 
 The
 financial
 cost
of
raising
children
includes
food
and
clothing,
childcare
and
kid
sitters,
and
expenses
 related
 to
 education,
 health,
 and
 recreation.
 
 These
 are
 some
 comments
 about
 personal
 resources:
 • We
 spent
 twenty
 thousand
 dollars
 out
 of
 pocket
 and
 won.
 Our
 county
 felt
 that
 they
 were
 going
 to
 just
 move
 him
 back
 and
 see
 how
 he
 would
 do.
 
 There
 was
 a
 lot
 of
 gut
 wrenching
there,
too.

So
we
filed,
we
hired
an
attorney.

 I
don't
know
how
some
parents
with
fewer
resources
can
possibly
handle
a
kid
like
him.

 I
 mean
 quite
 honestly,
 I
 think
 I
 probably
 have
 more
 knowledge
 and
 resources
 at
 my
 fingertips
than
most,
having
at
least
worked
in
the
social
services
system
and
knowing
 who
I
can
call,
and
I
struggled
mightily.

I
don't
know
how
you
would
begin.


 I
grew
up
in
a
big
family.
We
didn’t
have
a
lot
of
money.

We
had
a
home.

Our
water
was
 never
 turned
 off.
 
 Our
 electricity
 was
 never
 turned
 off.
 
 The
 mortgage
 was
 paid
 We
 never
had
to
move.

There
was
always
food
on
the
table.

Did
we
have
hand‐me
down
 clothes?
Yeah.
Did
we
have
to
do
stuff?

Did
I
think
we
were
poor?

No,
I
really
didn’t
 until
I
got
older.
Then
I
realized
we
were
really
poor.

So
I
don't
think
money,
other
than
 the
fact
that
you
do
make
enough
money
to
pay
bills
and
stuff.
Actually,
money
in
some
 ways
can
be
a
hindrance
because
I
think
that
if
you
don’t
have
an
understanding
of
how
 to
use
money,
money
can
be
a
hindrance.

Because
if
you
have
a
lot
of
money,
it’s
not
 going
to
change
these
kids’
problems.

I
think
that
we’ve
put
too
much
value
on
that
if
 kids
don’t
have
the
right
kind
of
jeans
they’re
going
to
get
made
fun
of
at
school.

Well,
 you
know
what,
if
they’re
a
foster
kid
all
their
life
they’re
going
to
get
made
more
fun
of
 at
school
than
they
will
if
they
have
Target
jeans
on
instead
of
who’s
ever
jeans
on.

 Income
 is
 less
 an
 issue
 than
 personal
 resources
 as
 far
 as
 emotional
 and
 spiritual
 and
 whatever
other
resources
you
have
to
be
able
to
call
to
deal
with
this
kid.



When
You
and
your
Family
Need
Extra
Help
 The
 When
 You
 and
 your
 Family
 Need
 Extra
 Help
 section
 of
 the
 RASS
 has
 22
 statements
grouped
into
four
subsections
–
willingness
to
accept
help,
preparation
to
seek


IRASS Page 35 of 75

help,
 relationship
 with
 service
 providers,
 and
 some
 adoptions
 don’t
 work
 as
 planned.

 Nearly
all
adopted
children
and
their
families
will
benefit
from
supportive
services
such
as
 therapy,
support
groups,
or
counseling.

Adoptive
parents
should
be
open
to
the
possibility
 of
 accepting
 help;
 know
 how
 to
 find
 appropriate
 resources,
 and
 feel
 comfortable
 and
 respected
 by
 service
 providers.
 
 Additionally,
 adoptive
 parents
 must
 realize
 that
 unanticipated
problems
with
their
children
may
arise
at
later
times.
 Willingness
to
Accept
Help

 Children
available
for
adoption
have
need
for
a
variety
of
services
including
medical
 and
psychological,
child
care,
respite
care,
and
educational
services.

Adoptive
parents
also
 need
support
and
assistance
to
adjust
to
their
new
roles
and
to
better
understand
and
help
 their
adoptive
child
and
birth
children.

Adoptive
parents
realize
that
services
appropriate
 to
 the
 needs
 of
 their
 children
 and
 families
 may
 not
 be
 easy
 to
 locate
 or
 access
 and
 may
 involve
 time,
 travel,
 and
 money
 to
 obtain.
 
 They
 realize
 that
 love
 alone
 is
 usually
 not
 enough
 to
 deal
 with
 some
 of
 the
 complicated
 issues
 of
 special
 needs
 children.
 
 They
 are
 willing
 to
 change
 service
 providers
 or
 advocate
 for
 different
 services
 when
 they
 are
 ineffective
in
dealing
with
their
children’s
issues.

They
know
that
using
supportive
services
 is
expected
and
encouraged
in
adoption
and
not
a
sign
of
weakness
or
failure.

 
 Most
adopted
children
have
emotional
or
behavioral
issues
that
are
best
handled
by
 professionals.
 
 Adoptive
 parents
 should
 feel
 comfortable
 seeking
 and
 accepting
 help
 for
 these
 problems;
 as
 well
 as
 for
 other
 issues
 that
 affect
 their
 ability
 parent
 and
 to
 have
 a
 happy
family
life.

These
are
examples
of
how
some
families
sought
help:
 • My
 case
 worker
 kept
 telling
 me
 to
 get
 in
 a
 support
 group.
 I
 didn’t
 know
 what
 the
 support
group
was
going
to
do.

I
didn’t
know
if
they
could
help
me
with
my
situation.
I
 did
have
in‐home
therapy
and
I
did
have
a
psychiatrist,
psychologist
that
we
were
going
 to.
I
was
having
all
these
things.
I
said
what
more
are
they
going
to
give
me
to
do?

I
said
 I
can’t
put
anything
else
on
my
plate
here.
But
they
said
this
is
once
a
month.
Then
when
 you
 go
 there
 you
 are
 so
 relieved
 that
 other
 parents
 have
 children
 like
 yours.
 They
 understand
you.

Which
is
such
a
relief.

That
you
can
say,
yes,
my
child
ran
out
of
the
 classroom
and
down
the
hall.
Yes,
my
child
tore
everything
off
the
wall.

Then
they
can
 relate,
and
it
was
comforting
because
there
you
could
talk
to
each
other
about
what
you
 can
do
when
your
child
gets
up
in
the
middle
of
the
night.

 He
 had
 a
 little
 physical
 therapy
 because
 he
 was
 originally
 tested
 when
 he
 was
 twelve
 months
 old.
 
 They
 said
 he
 was
 six
 to
 eight
 months
 behind
 in
 everything.
 
 So
 they
 just
 continued
on
with
this
stuff.
When
he
transitioned
out
here,
we
had
somebody
coming
 out
here.

You
know
they’d
come
into
the
house
once
or
twice
a
week.
So
they
did
an
 assessment
 recently
 and
 said
 he
 might
 be
 borderline
 in
 one
 or
 two
 things,
 but
 he’s
 really
not
really
what
they
consider
special
education
or
needing
any
kind
of
services.


 So
we’re
still
looking
for
therapies
outside
like
sensory
integration.

 Things
 were
 just
 taboo
 and
 not
 talked
 about.
 
 Particularly
 in
 the
 African‐American
 community.

Like
he
goes
to
see
a
therapist.

That
just
was
unheard
of
when
I
was
a
kid.



IRASS Page 36 of 75

You
 don’t
 go
 and
 tell
 people
 what
 goes
 on
 in
 your
 house
 or
 that
 you
 got
 a
 problem.

 What
goes
on
in
the
African
American
community
should
stay
there.

That’s
what
you’re
 led
to
believe,
but
then
the
community
itself
is
much
more
different.
We’re
not
as
close
 knit
 or
 as
 helpful
 as
 we
 used
 to
 be,
 either.
 We’re
 no
 longer
 the
 village
 that
 we’re
 pretending
to
be.

 • I
really
recommend
in
home
therapy,
too,
because
the
kids
know
how
to
perform
at
the
 therapist’s
office,
but
when
they
come
into
their
own
home
the
kids
forget.

More
of
the
 acting
is
gone
because
then
they
really
show
their
true
colors
when
there’s
an
in
home
 therapist.



 We
knew
from
the
get
go
that
we
were
going
to
use
respite.

Like
on
day
one,
and
we
 did.

We
found
a
respite
family
before
the
kids
even
came
into
our
home.




Preparation
to
Seek
Help
 Adoptive
 parents
 accept
 the
 idea
 that
 their
 children
 may
 need
 psychological,
 medical,
or
educational
services.

They
have
become
familiar
their
children’s
problems,
the
 types
of
services
that
can
help
their
children,
and
the
services
and
financial
support
their
 children
are
entitled
to
receive.

They
have
decided
to
deal
with
problems
early,
rather
than
 wait
 until
 they
 become
 so
 severe
 or
 overwhelming
 that
 they
 cannot
 handle
 them.
 They
 realize
 that
 it
 might
 take
 time
 and
 several
 different
 service
 providers
 before
 they
 find
 a
 provider
that
can
help
their
children
and
with
whom
they
feel
comfortable.

 They
 understand
 that
 they
 may
 have
 conflicts
 with
 some
 services
 providers
 and
 they
may
have
to
advocate
for
their
children
or
for
themselves
or
change
providers.

They
 understand
 the
 types
 of
 educational
 services
 that
 are
 provided
 through
 their
 school
 districts
such
as
speech
therapy,
individual
education
plans,
physical
therapy,
and
special
 education
classes.

They
are
familiar
with
their
health
plans
and
the
types
of
services
that
 are
 covered
 by
 their
 providers.
 
 They
 have
 talked
 with
 other
 parents
 who
 have
 children
 with
problems
similar
to
their
children’s
and
have
asked
them
for
suggestions
or
referrals.


 These
 are
 some
 of
 the
 experiences
 adoptive
 parents
 have
 had
 with
 providers
 of
 helping
services:

 • • I
think
the
squeaky
wheels
at
school
got
the
attention.
I
really
had
to
push.
I
basically
 had
to
demand
that
he
start
getting
services,
which
helped
him
in
reading
and
math.
 Then
 we’d
 just
 didn’t
 understand
 how
 people
 could
 not
 if
 you
 were
 assigned
 to
 someone
 that
 they
 could
 let
 weeks
 go
 by
 and
 they
 would
 not
 return
 a
 phone
 call.
 
 I
 mean
I
was
pretty
assertive
at
the
end,
but
I
wasn’t
like
a
horrible,
nightmare
kind
of
 person.
 
 I
 was
 you
 know
 I
 didn’t
 really
 let
 myself
 get
 pushed
 over,
 but
 I
 wasn’t
 obnoxious.


 He
qualifies
for
services.

They
can’t
deny
him.
So
we
thought
well
we’ll
try‐‐again.
We
 called
them
and
they’re
like,
“Well
we
don’t
really
have
the
answer
for
you
on
that,
but
 call
this
person
and
if
he
can’t
help
you
he
will
know
who
out
there
can
help
you.”
This


IRASS Page 37 of 75

gentleman,
I
mean
we
emailed
back
and
forth
with
him
daily
for
I
don't
know
how
long.
 He
was
so
helpful.

He’d
say
like,
“Oh
no,
no.

This
is
what
you
need
to
say
to
them.”


 • We
sat
in
the
waiting
room
with
the
other
children
who
were
going
into
therapy.

You
 know
I’m
looking
at
my
boys.
I’m
thinking
they’re
not
like
that.

You
know
my
kids
don’t
 have
the
same
issues.

 We
really
had
to
push
to
have
them
test
him.
Actually
he
got
tested
because
he
was
an
 identical
twin
to
a
kid
who
was
also
receiving
them.

So
I
know
that
you
have
to
kind
of
 push
them.



Relationship
with
Services
Providers
 Adoptive
 parents
 understand
 good
 working
 relationships
 with
 service
 providers,
 such
as
adoption
social
workers,
physicians,
and
therapists
involves
them
listening
to
and
 valuing
 their
 opinions
 and
 input.
 
They
 understand
 that
the
service
 providers
 will
 have
 a
 different
 relationship
 with
 their
 children
 and
 a
 different
 perspective
 than
 they
 do.
 
 They
 feel
comfortable
sharing
their
views
of
their
children’s
progress
with
the
service
providers
 and
negotiating
to
have
their
needs
met.

They
talk
about
their
expectations
for
change
in
 terms
of
timeframe
and
degree
with
their
service
providers.


 They
 realize
 that
 their
 children
 cannot
 be
 changed
 overnight
 by
 a
 therapist
 or
 psychologist
 so
 they
 withhold
 judgment
 until
 there
 has
 been
 time
 for
 progress
 to
 occur.

 They
 give
 feedback
 to
 service
 providers
 about
 their
 children’s
 progress
 and
 their
 satisfaction
 with
 their
 services.
 
 If
 a
 service
 provider
 treats
 them
 and
 their
 children
 disrespectfully
they
bring
it
to
their
attention
in
an
appropriate
manner
and
situation.
 Adoptive
 parents
 need
 to
 feel
 comfortable
 with
 their
 service
 providers
 and
 respected
 by
 them.
 
 If
 not,
 they
 should
 feel
 empowered
 to
 ask
 questions
 to
 get
 their
 problems
 resolved
 or
 to
 seek
 new
 service
 providers.
 
 Here
 are
 some
 examples
 of
 how
 parents
have
handled
those
relationships:
 • I
 won’t
 go
 to
 a
 psychiatrist
 who
 won’t
 include
 me
 in
 what’s
 going
 on.
 I
 get
 included.

 They
value
my
opinion.
They
listen
to
me.

We
went
to
one
that
they
wouldn’t
hear
me
 out.

We
walked
out.

I
didn’t
go
back.

 The
schools
are
willing
to
put
what
resources
they
have
to
work
for
my
kids.

They
are
 not
willing
to
tell
me
when
it’s
not
working
anymore
and
we
need
to
do
something
new.

 His
therapist
was
a
skilled
therapist.

I
had
a
long
discussion
with
him.

It’s
one
of
the
 first
 interviews
 in
 the
 process.
 One
 of
 the
 questions
 I
 remember
 asking
 him
 is,
 one
 of
 my
 fears
 about
adopting
a
 kid
 like
my
son,
 because
of
my
 experience
with
 foster
 kids
 who
were
teenagers,
is
that
gangs
and
that
whole
thing
would
be
very
attractive
to
him
 as
he
gets
older.
He
said
to
me,
“You
know
I
don’t
think
he
has
kind
of
decided
who
he
is
 yet
in
life.
I
think
that
he
is
very
open
and
amenable
to
being
in
a
nurturing
family
that
 will
make
a
difference
for
him.”




• •

IRASS Page 38 of 75

Some
Adoptions
Don’t
Work
as
Planned


 Adoptive
 parents
 realize
 that
 the
 behaviors
 of
 some
 children
 can
 threaten
 the
 physical
 and
 psychological
 safety
 of
 members
 of
 their
 families.
 
 They
 realize
 that
 some
 children
 with
 severe
 problems
 may
 not
 be
 appropriate
 for
 adoption
 but
 may
 require
 residential
 treatment.
 
 There
 are
 some
 problems
 or
 issues
 that
 are
 not
 apparent
 until
 a
 child
is
older;
and
those
issues
may
create
unanticipated
stress
and
problems
in
families.

 Adoptive
parents
realize
it
is
impossible
to
predict
a
child’s
behavior
and
that
things
may
 not
work
out
quite
as
they
had
planned.

Their
children
may
need
more
services
than
they
 initially
thought.


Even
if
an
adoption
should
disrupt,
they
know
there
are
ways
to
maintain
 contact
with
children
and
continue
the
relationship
with
them.

Even
in
biological
families,
 all
family
members
do
not
live
with
each
other
24‐7.
 
 Many
times
the
full
extent
of
an
adopted
child’s
problems
is
not
known
at
the
time
of
 the
 adoption.
 
 The
 family
 later
must
be
 flexible
 and
adaptable
 in
order
to
adjust
 to
them.

 Sometimes
 there
 are
 adopted
 children
 whose
 needs
 are
 best
 met
 in
 a
 residential
 placement,
rather
than
in
an
adoptive
home.

Unfortunately,
that
is
often
not
known
until
 there
 has
 been
 a
 disrupted
 adoption.
 
 These
 are
 some
 of
 the
 difficult
 situations
 adoptive
 families
have
faced:
 • Would
we
have
adopted
her
if
they
had
said,
“This
is
a
child
with
cerebral
palsy.”
To
be
 honest,
we
probably
would
not
have.

Now
what
I’ve
learned
about
cerebral
palsy
since
 then,
that
would’ve
been
a
mistake.

We
should
adopt
her,
and
it’s
not
such
a
big
deal.

 We
had
a
disruption.
That
was
very
eye
opening
and
very
gut
wrenching.

We
literally
 took
her
out
of
the
psychiatric
ward
in
Winona.

She
tried
to
commit
suicide.
She’d
been
 through,
I
think,
twenty‐two
placements.

Had
multiple
problems,
just
multiple.
The
fact
 is
 we
 weren’t
 planning
 on
 disrupting.
 
 We
 were
 fighting
 like
 you
 wouldn’t
 believe.
 
 I
 mean
she
was
only
with
us,
it
feels
like
she
was
with
us
forever,
but
she
was
only
with
 us
 about
 three
 and
 a
 half
 months.
 We
 ended
 up
 hospitalizing
 her
 because
 we
 were
 concerned
about
suicide.

 We
had
one
thing,
just
one
thing
that
we
said
we
would
NOT
do
with
adoption,
that
we
 would
 not
 adopt
 any
 more
 children
 with
 bipolar
 disorder.
 Two
 of
 our
 newly
 adopted
 children
have
been
diagnosed
with
it
now.

 I
almost
feel
like
my
greater
obligation
is
to
keep
my
son
in
a
place
where
he
can’t
hurt
 other
people
more
than
it
is
to
have
him
home.


 I
wrote
a
letter
to
the
governor’s
wife.
There
had
been
some
very
happy
article
in
the
 newspaper
 about
 these
 are
 the
 kids
 from
 the
 County.
 
 These
 are
 the
 parents
 who
 are
 adopting
them,
this
is
a
great
day.
I
wrote
her
a
letter
which
basically
said
some
of
those
 families
 adopted
 today
 will
 face
 what
 I
 have
 faced.
 The
 County
 abandons
 the
 parents
 once
the
adoption
is
finalized.

These
are
the
issues
I
have
dealt
with
and
there’s
been
 no
one
there
to
provide
support.



• •

IRASS Page 39 of 75

Using
the
Readiness
to
Adopt
Self­Survey
 At
this
time
the
RASS
are
available
at
scribd.com/professorjane
and
is
available
to
 parents
who
are
considering
adoption.

Parents
can
fill
out
the
tool
at
their
leisure,
reflect
 upon
 the
 qualities
 that
 adoptive
 parenting
 requires,
 and,
 if
 they
 choose,
 search
 out
 resources
to
help
them
better
prepare
to
become
adoptive
parents
of
children
with
special
 needs.
 
 Adoption
 agencies
 can
 also
 place
 a
 paper
 version
 of
 the
 tool
 in
 their
 packets
 of
 information
they
give
to
prospective
adoptive
parents.
 We
suggest
that
couples
discuss
their
responses
with
each
other
so
that
they
can
be
 as
clear
as
possible
about
each
other’s
feelings,
strengths,
and
areas
that
require
attention.
 The
 survey
 is
 completely
 anonymous;
 the
 user
 names
 and
 passwords
 are
 only
 needed
 so
 users
can
access
their
survey
data
at
a
later
time.

In
order
to
test
the
reliability
and
validity
 of
 the
 tool,
 a
 program
 will
 generate
 a
 table
 of
 the
 data
 responses
 to
 the
 RASS.
 
 No
 user
 names
or
passwords
will
be
attached
to
the
data
and
all
data
results
will
be
presented
in
 aggregate
to
assure
confidentiality.

 The
 RASS
 is
 intended
 to
 give
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents
 a
 clear
 picture
 of
 what
 capacities
 and
 resources
 are
 needed
 to
 parent
 special
 needs
 adopted
 children.
 
 Some
 parents
may
feel
overwhelmed
by
the
issues
addressed
in
the
tool
and
decide
that
they
are
 not
ready
at
this
time
to
pursue
adoption.

It
is
anticipated
that
many
prospective
adoptive
 parents
who
use
the
tool
will
question
whether
they
have
what
it
takes
to
parents
special
 needs
 children
 and
 they
 will
 want
 more
 information
 or
 training
 before
 they
 make
 the
 commitment.
 
 The
 information
 link
 on
 the
 RASS
 is
 intended
 to
 connect
 those
 interested
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents
 with
 various
 types
 of
 information
 and
 resources
 which
 can
 further
develop
their
capacities.

 Description
of
the
Guide
to
Conversations
with
Prospective
Adoptive
Parents
 The
 IRASS
 is
 a
 structured
 interview
 that
 parallels
 the
 sections
 of
 the
 RASS.

 Adoption
 professionals
 can
 use
 it
 to
 guide
 interviews
 or
 in‐depth
 conversations
 with
 prospective
 adoptive
 parents
 who
 have
 completed
 the
 RASS.
 
 The
 Guide
 is
 long,
 as
 is
 the
 RASS,
and
may
require
several
interviews
to
complete.
Some
of
the
questions
on
the
IRASS
 are
 likely
 to
 provoke
 strong
 and
 sometimes
 difficult
 emotional
 reactions
 in
 adoptive
 parents.

Thus
we
recommend
that
the
IRASS
be
administered
over
two
to
three
interviews
 and
 that
 parents
 be
 informed
 that
 they
 don’t
 have
 to
 answer
 questions
 that
 make
 them
 uncomfortable.
 
 Since
 adoption
 agencies
 typically
 cover
 many
 of
 the
 categories
 in
 the
 IRASS,
we
encourage
adoption
professionals
to
adapt
the
IRASS
to
their
practice
and
to
the
 policies
and
practices
of
their
agencies.


 Both
 tools
 normalize
 the
 need
 for
 adoptive
 parents
 to
 seek
 services,
 support,
 and
 further
education.

This
is
important
because
parents
may
view
such
help
as
signs
of
their
 personal
 weakness
 and
 inadequacy.
 The
 IRASS
 and
 the
 RASS
 assume
 that
 many
 children
 with
 special
 needs
 pose
 difficulties
 to
 adoptive
 parents,
 and
 they
 point
 the
 way
 for
 constructive
responses.

Many
of
the
personal
qualities
highlighted
in
both
instruments
are
 qualities
that
can
be
developed
through
adoptive
support
groups
and
on‐going
training
and


IRASS Page 40 of 75

education.

Adoption
professionals
should
be
prepared
to
suggest
resources
and
training
to
 prospective
parents,
as
well
as
refer
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counselors
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 Groze,
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 Houston,
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(1998).
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Family
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423‐432.
 Kagan,
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 Leung,
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 Luthar,
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New
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 Nelson,
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A
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 Sandmaier,
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IRASS Page 43 of 75

Hennepin County Adoption Project University of Minnesota School of Social Work

The Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey(RASS)
Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW jgilgun@umn.edu Susan Keskinen, MSW skeskinen@yahoo.com

May 2006 Jane F. Gilgun is a professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA. Susan Keskinen is a consultation, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

IRASS Page 44 of 75

The Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (RASS)
THIS RASS SURVEY WILL HELP YOU TO PREPARE for the adoption of children with special needs before you bring them into your home.. Your answers will show you where you have strengths as a parent and where you have room for improvement. Be as honest as you can as you complete the survey. No one but you will know your answers. Fill out the RASS survey on your own. If you have a partner, your partner should fill out his or her own survey, too. The survey is designed for partners to talk to each other about their answers to the survey questions. Adoption professionals at the agencies where you are applying for children may talk to you about some of the issues that this survey raises. They may interview you using the IRASS, which is an interview that covers the same topics as the RASS. The RASS has six parts. Fill out as many or as few of these parts as you want at one time. Your user name and password will enable you to complete the survey over several sessions at the computer. The entire survey will take about 30 minutes to complete. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate yourself on each of the following statements. The scale items are: 1 = Doesn’t describe me at all 2 = Describes me a little 3 = Describes me somewhat 4 = Describes me quite well 5 = Describes me very well

IRASS Page 45 of 75

Parenting
Identity as a Parent____ I want to be a parent. ____My partner wants to be a parent. ____I know that parenting means giving up some things that are important to me. ____I know that parenting entails great rewards and some heartache. ____When I adopt, I will feel that the children are my children. Commitment ____When I make a decision to adopt a child, I am making a commitment for life. ____I know that adopting children entails risks and that there are no guarantees about how the children will turn out. ____I will help my adopted children handle the sometimes harsh realities, such as their histories of separation and loss. ____I will remain committed to my children if new information about them comes to light, such as their being more traumatized than I had originally thought. Willingness to Learn About Children’s Needs ____I will attend workshops and trainings on the issues that the children I adopt may have, such as attachment issues, fetal alcohol syndrome and effects, and behavioral issues. ____I will look beyond the children's needs to see their resilience; how they have coped with, adapted to, and overcome negative experiences. ____I know that both positive and negative experiences have shaped how my children think, feel, and behave. Authoritative Parenting ____I will be affectionate with my children, through both touching and words. ____I know how to help children express their emotions in constructive ways. ____I will set clear and fair limits for my children. ____I have clear and fair expectations for my children. ____I will give age-appropriate explanations for the expectations I have. ____I will give my children choices in day-to-day decisions. ____I will set clear and fair consequences for my children.

IRASS Page 46 of 75

____I will follow through on consequences. ____I will give my children age-appropriate responsibilities around the house and yard. ____I will praise my children for respecting limits and other positive behaviors. Affirming Children's Strength's, Cultural Heritage, and Identity ____I will recognize and praise my children's accomplishments directly to them. ____I will create opportunities for my children to understand, identify with, and be part of their cultural, ethnic, and racial heritages. ____I will create opportunities where my adoptive children can interact informally with members of their ethnic and cultural groups. ____ I will learn how to perform routine care of my children's skin and hair, care that might be different from how my own culture performs these tasks. ____ I know that when I adopt trans-racially I have become part of a multi-cultural family. ____ I know that racial issues in trans-racial adoptions can be very difficult. ____ I will accept my children's sexual orientation. Facilitating Children's Acceptance of their own Pasts ____ I recognize that my adoptive children will want to talk about their pasts. ____ I will be open and accepting of my children's desire to make sense of their pasts. ____ I will engage in age-appropriate conversations and activities to help my children understand their pasts. ____ I will seek out people who can help me deal with my children in helpful ways when ____ I feel threatened or unsure about my children's desire to make sense of their pasts.

IRASS Page 47 of 75

Personal Qualities
Sense of Humor ____ I can find humor in situations that may also be difficult. ____ I can laugh at myself in ways that help me accept myself as a person who can make mistakes. ____ I may not find some situations humorous at the time but later on they may seem funny. ____ I know that some situations are not funny but threaten the safety of others. Flexibility and Adaptability ____ I am willing to change my ways of doing things when they don't work. ____ My work schedule has enough flexibility that I can make sure my children get to any appointments they may have for medical and other services. ____ I am willing to move to another part of town or to another city to meet the needs of my children. ____ I learn from experience and change my behaviors accordingly. ____ I can accept things I cannot change. ____ I will be flexible in my lifestyle (work hours, social networks, and vacation plans) to accommodate what my children may need to thrive. ____ I will find ways to keep up with my own interests and activities. ____ I am willing to listen to professionals who have views about the children that are different from my own. Emotional Capacities ____ I can express my emotions directly, honestly, and respectfully. ____ I know how to elicit the direct and honest emotions of other people. ____ I can deal constructively with my emotional responses when my children appear to reject me and are loveable with other people. ____ I can keep my cool when other people, including my children, are highly emotional, angry at me, destroying property, or harming other persons. ____ I know when I am about to lose my cool. ____ I know what to do when I am about to lose my cool.

IRASS Page 48 of 75

____ I will apologize to my children when I over-react to their behaviors or cause them to feel anxious. ____ I can forgive myself if I over-react to my children. ____ I know that some children may be more than I or my family can handle. Resilience ____ I have successfully coped with, adapted to, and overcome adversities in my own life. ____ I can empathize with the adversities my adoptive children may have experienced. ____ I can set limits and be an authoritative parent even when I recognize that children's behaviors are related to previous traumas and not the current situation. ____ I admire people, especially children, who have survived adversities and manage to go on. ____ I will actively search for and celebrate my children's resilience; how they have coped with, adapted to, and overcome negative experiences.

IRASS Page 49 of 75

Family & Social Networks
Teamwork ____ I have friends and family members who can help with child care, transportation, and more extended care when I want to take a vacation or travel. ____ I have a partner who will take over when I want a couple of hours away from the children on the spur of the moment. ____ I have friends and family members who will take over when I want time away from my children on the spur of the moment. ____ I have good working relationships with school personnel, medical doctors, and other service providers. Maintaining Contact with Biological Families and Other Persons Important to the Child(ren) ____ I will welcome conversations with my adopted children about their biological families and other persons important to them. ____ I will maintain contact with my children's biological families and other persons important to the children, as far as that is feasible. ____ I will create opportunities for my children to maintain contact with siblings and any other members of their biological family, when this is feasible. ____ I will keep letters, pictures, and other mementos from my children's past and share them with my children when the time is appropriate. ____ I will be fair and kind when I talk with my adopted children about their biological families and other persons important to them. Willingness to Deal with Reactions of Others to Your Adoptive Parent Status ____ I will deal constructively with others when they make inappropriate comments or ask inappropriate questions about my adoptive children and/or my status as an adoptive parent. ____ I will respond with tact when other people give me unsolicited advice about how to handle my adopted children. ____ I will make constructive suggestions to preschools and other settings about how to correct situations where I find my children are being treated unfairly or unkindly. Impact of Adoption on Family Relationships ____ I know that adoption will change my relationship with other children in my family.

IRASS Page 50 of 75

____ I know that adoption will change my relationship with my partner. ____ I know that adoption will have effects on my relationships with my extended family. ____ I know that the other children in my family want me to adopt. ____ I will include the other children in my family in preparations for bringing adoptive children into our home. ____ I have educated the other children in my family about the issues and behaviors that adoptive children may have. ____ I know that the other children in my family can cope with the issues and behaviors that adoptive children may have. ____ If I, my partner, or other children in my family have trouble coping with the issues and behaviors that adoptive children may have, I will seek professional help.

IRASS Page 51 of 75

Values, Expectations, and Beliefs
Altruism ____ One of the reasons I want to adopt is because I want to do something good for a child. ____ I believe that every child deserves to be part of a loving family. Realistic Expectations about Yourself and the Children ____ I have expectations for my children, including some I might not be aware of. ____ I have expectations for myself, including some that I may not know about yet. ____ My expectations for myself and for my children might not be realistic. ____ I have the ability to change my expectations for myself and for my children while maintaining my role as an authoritative parent. ____ I am realistic about how positive and negative experiences have affected my adopted children. Admirations of the Children ____ I will appreciate the resilience my children have to survive the difficulties in their lives. ____ I will appreciate the interests, emotional capacities, and activities that have meaning to my adopted children. ____ I will provide opportunities for my adopted children to develop interests, emotional capacities that have meaning to them. Spirituality ____ I am part of a community that provides me with a sense of belonging and support. ____ If my children want to be part of a faith community, I will ensure that this happens. ____ If my children want to be part of a faith community that is different from my own, ____ I will respect their wishes and ensure that they can be part of this community. ____ I understand that my membership in a faith community is not a requirement to adopt children. ____ When I have experienced hurt and loss, I have looked for something positive to draw from those experiences. Sense of the Future

IRASS Page 52 of 75

____ I will think about and plan for questions/issues my adopted children may have regarding race. ____ I will think about and plan for questions/issues my adopted children may have regarding family of origin. ____ I will plan for my children's education. ____ I will make plans that ensure that my adopted children have stable living arrangements and adequate food, clothing, shelter when they leave my home as young adults. ____ I will make arrangements for the care of my children should I become incapacitated or die.

IRASS Page 53 of 75

Creating Healthy Environments
Play, Hobbies, Sports, and Recreation ____ I have hobbies and recreational activities that I can share with children, such as bike riding, baseball, music, museums, travel, picnics, gardening. ____ I know pretend games and what-if games that will help my children deal with events from their pasts. Physical Environment ____ My home is child friendly. ____ My home provides a space, such as a bedroom, that each child can call his/her own. ____ My neighborhood has playgrounds and other recreational facilities for children. ____ I am willing to remodel/change my house to accommodate the special needs of my adopted children. ____ There are other children in the neighborhood with whom my children can play. Personal Resources ____ I have resources such as time, transportation, and childcare that enable me to get my adopted children to the services they need. ____ I have a job that allows some flexibility in terms of being able to have the time to attend to parenting duties such as school conferences and doctor appointments. ____ I will find the money I need to obtain services that my children may require.

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When You and Your Family Need Extra Help
Willingness to Accept Help ____ I might need some help parenting my children, such as before and after school child care, respite care, and medical services. ____ I know that my adopted children may need extra help with issues such as handling their emotions and behaviors. This may result in a need for child and family therapy. ____ I can deal with the powerful emotions and memories, both positive and negative, that parenting may evoke. This may result in my need for counseling and therapy. ____ Family therapy and couples therapy may be required in order for me to learn how to parent my adopted children. ____ I am willing to attend support groups for adoptive parents. ____ I am willing to attend training sessions for adoptive parents on how to parent children who have the issues that my adopted children have. Preparation to Seek Help ____ I am willing to seek the help my children and family require, such as medical or psychological services. ____ I will seek the financial support that my children are entitled to receive. ____ I am willing to use services as soon as a problem arises, rather then wait until I get overwhelmed by it. ____ I know that I may have trouble finding the services my adopted children or our family requires. ____ I know that I might have to be very persistent to get the services that my adopted children require. Relationship with Service Providers ____ I know the importance of good working relationships with service providers, such as adoption social workers, physicians, and therapists. ____ I will do all I can to understand the point of view of service providers without losing touch with my own point of view. ____ I will negotiate what I want and do not want from service providers. ____ I will talk things over with service providers when I think they are doing a poor job.

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_____ It is possible that I will have conflicts with some service providers. ____ I have the ability to be assertive with service providers. ____ I will seek the support of others when I am having trouble being assertive with service providers. Some Adoptions Don’t Work as Planned ____ I realize that the behaviors of my children may threaten the physical and psychological safety of members of my family. ____ I realize that the behaviors of my children may threaten the physical and psychological safety of members of my family. ____ I accept the possibility that my children might require more supervision than ____ I can provide. ____ I accept the possibility that my children might require out of home care. ____ I understand that if my adopted children receive out of home care, they would still be a full member of our family.

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Hennepin County Adoption Project University of Minnesota School of Social Work

Interview for the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (IRASS): A Guide
Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW jgilgun@umn.edu Susan Keskinen, MSW skeskinen@yahoo.com

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Please feel free to reproduce this interview guide for your professional use.

Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW is professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 1404 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108 USA. Phone: 612/624-3643; e-mail: jgilgun@umn.edu Professor Gilgun has books, children’s books, and articles available on Amazon Kindle, scribd.com/professorjane, and stores.lulu.com/jgilgun

Susan Keskinen, MSW, is a research and evaluation consultant, 691 Portland Avenue, St. Paul. MN 55104. USA Phone: 651/292-9085; e-mail: skeskinen@yahoo.com

Jane F. Gilgun and Susan Keskinen in collaboration with an advisory group developed the IRASS. The members of the advisory group are Ginny Blade (National Council on Adoptable Children, St. Paul, MN) and staff of the Hennepin County, Minnesota, Human Services and Public Health Department: Dan Capouch, Suzanne Douglas, Suzanne Gaines, Marcia Miller, and Mary Herek. Penny Wile, Glenn Bracht, Sheila Schmaltz, and Paula Childers made notable contributions to the development of the tools. The IRASS is one of several products resulting from a five-year collaboration between the Hennepin

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County, Minnesota, Human Services and Public Health Department and the School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW, principal investigator

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Hennepin County Adoption Project University of Minnesota School of Social Work

Interview for the Readiness to Adopt SelfSurvey (IRASS): A Guide

Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW jgilgun@umn.edu Sue Keskinen skeskinen@yahoo.com

The following is a guide to conversational interviews with prospective adoptive parents about their readiness to adopt children with special needs. Its purpose is to identify areas of strength in adoptive parents’ capacities and areas that require attention. By using this interview guide to engage prospective adoptive parents in in-depth conversations, adoption professionals will be positioned to help prospective adoptive parents recognize their strengths as well as to provide a basis for recommendations about how prospective adoptive parents can develop additional parental capacities. Referrals to support groups, educational programs, and printed material are typical recommendations that social workers will make. The topics in this interview guide are the same as the topics in the Readiness to Adopt Self-Survey (RASS), which is available on-line at http://data.che.umn.edu/rass/login.asap. To use this guide effectively, prospective adoptive parents should have reflected on these topics by filling out the items of the RASS. Some of the topics covered in this guide encourage prospective adoptive parents to reveal personal and sensitive information. Be sure to help them stay within their zones of emotional safety. You can do this by being empathic and using active listening skills. This conversation guide is divided into six parts. Do as many or as few as suits both you and adoptive parents. Remember—this is not a test. It’s a way of exploring prospective adoptive parents’ strengths and areas that require attention. Few prospective adoptive parents are fully prepared to parent adopted children with special needs at the outset. This guide to conversations is intended to give some direction as to how parents can prepare themselves for adoptive parenthood of children with special needs.

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Table of Contents
PAREN TIN G
Identity as a Parent Commitment Willingness to Learn about Children’s Needs Authoritative Parenting Affirming Children’s Strengths, Cultural Heritage, and Identity Facilitating Children’s Acceptance of their own Pasts 5 5 6 6 6 7

PERSON AL QU ALITIES
Sense of Humor Flexibility & Adaptability Emotional Capacities Resilience 8 8 9 9

FAM ILY AN D SOCIAL NETW ORKS
Teamwork Maintaining Contact with Biological Families and Other Persons Important to the Children Willingness to Deal with Reactions of Others to Your Adoptive Parent Status Impact of Adoption on Family Relationships 10 10 10 11

VALU ES, EXPECTATIONS, AND BELIEFS
Altruism Realistic Expectations About Yourself and the Children Admiration of the Children Spirituality Sense of the Future 12 12 12 12 13

CREATIN G HEALTH Y ENVIRONM ENTS
Play, Hobbies, Sports, and Recreation Physical Environment Personal Resources 14 14 14

W H EN YOU AN D YOUR FAM ILY NEED EXTRA HELP
Willingness to Accept Help in Parenting Preparation to Seek Help in Parenting Relationships with Service Providers 15 15 15

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Parenting
Identity as a Parent
1. 2. The most important quality that adoptive parents have is their desire to be parents. What are your thoughts about wanting to parent adoptive children? If you have a partner, what does your partner say about wanting to be a parent? Are you satisfied that you both want to be parents? What kinds of issues have you talked over with your partner? Parenting entails giving up some things that are important to you. What do you think you may have to give up? What do you think will make it worthwhile if you do have to give up some things? How can you ensure that you keep up with activities and interests that are important to you? Parenting may bring you heartache as well as rewards. What kinds of heartache might parenting bring? What rewards do you anticipate? Parenting can bring up strong emotions and memories in you. Some are pleasant and some are painful. What positive emotions and memories do you think you’ll have when children come into your home? What painful emotions and memories might come back? Do you have a plan for how you will handle these emotions and memories? If yes, what is your plan? Do you think that the children you will adopt will be your children? What are your thoughts about how this will work for you? Parents who have troubled relationships with their own parents can still parent effectively. To do so, they must be able to talk about and think about their own parents without becoming emotional and agitated, or without thinking it doesn’t matter. What kind of relationship do you have with your own parents now? When you were growing up? Adoption is a commitment you make for life. What might happen with a child that you adopt that could make you wish the commitment is not life-long? Do you anticipate that this commitment will change as the child grows older? What are your expectations in this regard? Do you understand that adopting children entails risks and that there are no guarantees about how the children will turn out, just as there are no guarantees how biological children will turn out? Can you talk about what might be the possible ways that children turn out? Children who are adopted sometimes require help in handling the harsh realities in their lives, such as separations and losses in their biological families. What kinds of behaviors might children have when they are dealing with these harsh realities? What kinds of things might children say? What might they want? How would you respond to some of the issues that children bring with them? If you have a partner, your partner should have a commitment to parenting that is like yours. Can you give some examples of how you see your partner’s commitment? Sometimes new information about the children comes to light after the children are placed in your home. Do you think you will be able to accept an adopted child or children if you find out that s/he had experienced traumas that you had not known about previously? How about that the child/ren lived in crack houses or meth labs? Please discuss how you think you would respond to this new information.

3.

4. 5.

6. 7.

Commitment

1.

2.

3.

4. 5.

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Willingness to Learn about Children’s Needs

1.

Parenting adopted children with special needs requires a lot of knowledge. Are you willing to attend workshops and trainings on the issues that the children you adopt may have, such as attachment issues, fetal alcohol syndrome and effects, and behavioral issues? What do you think you will get out of these trainings? Adoptive parenting is easier if you can be realistic about how past experiences have affected your children. What kinds of positive experiences do you think your children will have had before they move into your home? How about negative experiences? Children who are eligible for adoption have strengths. In other words, they have shown that they can cope with, adapt to, and overcome negative experiences. What are some of the strengths that the children may have? How will you find out if they have them? Children need clear, fair, and consistent limits and rules in order to feel loved and safe. What are some limits and rules you might have for your child at a particular age? Under what conditions can you be flexible in setting and enforcing rules? Children need clear and fair expectations so they know what you expect of them. What expectations might you have for your children at different ages? Can you give your children age-appropriate explanations for the limits, rules and expectations you have for them? Please share some examples. Children need to have choices in order to feel some power in decisions that are being made. What kinds of choices would you give your children? Parents need to set clear and fair consequences when children misbehave and they need to follow through on those consequences. What are some consequences for children of different ages? Children, as members of the family, should have age-appropriate responsibilities, such as chores around the house and yard. What are some chores you would have for your children at various ages? Children need a high degree of affection, both through touching and words. How comfortable are you at expressing your affection in both of those ways? Children need to be praised for respecting limits and for other positive behaviors. Can you think of a situation where you could praise your children for respecting limits? A great deal of parenting entails teaching children how to express their emotions and how to get along with other people. What would you say to your children about expressing emotions? What other ways could you show them how to express their emotions? How will you recognize and praise your children’s accomplishments directly to your children? Please give examples. How will you create opportunities for your children to understand, identify with, and be part of their cultural, ethnic, and racial heritages? How will you create opportunities where your adoptive children can interact informally with members of their own ethnic and cultural groups? How will you learn how to perform routine care of children, care that might be different from the ways your own culture performs these tasks? The care of hair and skin are examples. If you adopt trans-racially, you have become part of a multi-cultural family. What kinds of things will you do to celebrate and nurture your multi-cultural family?

2.

3.

Authoritative Parenting

1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

6.

7. 8. 9.

Affirming Children’s Strengths, Cultural Heritage, and Identity

1. 2. 3. 4.

5.

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IRASS Page 64 of 75 6. How will you use humor appropriately to promote adopted children’s positive identity? Can you imagine any situations related to adoption that might be humorous? Do you have any idea how you can learn more about the use of humor in adoption parenting? What will you do or say to your child or children to show that you recognize that racial issues in trans-racial adoptions can be very difficult? That they also create opportunities? You may not know what your adopted children’s sexual orientation will be, just as biological parents don’t know until the children have attained some maturity. How will you respond if one of more of your adopted children is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender? What if your child or children appear to be confused about sexual orientation or about gender identity? What are the various ways you can respond? How might your family members and friends respond? How will you respond if your adopted son shows interest in activities associated with being a girl, such as playing with dolls, putting on make-up, and wanting to be a hair-dresser or nurse?

7. 8.

9.

10. How will you respond if your adopted daughter shows interest in activities associated with being a boy, such as playing with erector sets, getting into fist fights, and wanting to be a carpenter or pipe-fitter?

Facilitating Children’s Acceptance of their own Pasts

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Adoptive children want to talk about their pasts and need to talk about them. How would you help your children feel comfortable talking about their pasts? Can you be open and accepting of your children’s desires to make sense of their pasts? How would you help them sort out and understand why things happened as they did? Can you engage in age-appropriate conversations and activities to help your children make sense of their pasts? Describe possible conversations and activities. Can you provide your children with age-appropriate information about their pasts? What types of things might be appropriate for children to know at different ages? When you feel threatened or unsure about your children’s desire to make sense of their pasts, do you have people who can help you deal with your feelings in helpful ways?

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Personal Qualities
Sense of Humor
1. Parenting requires a strong sense of humor. Describe a time when you found humor in a difficult situation. Can you think of times when you found humor in a situation that involved children? 2. Can you imagine finding humor in your adopted children’s challenging behaviors in ways that build their self-esteem? Can you think of any situations that are difficult yet funny? How would you communicate to your children the humor in a difficult situation? 3. Being able to laugh at yourself suggests that you can accept that you make mistakes. Talk about times when you made mistakes but could forgive yourself and even laugh about your mistakes. Some things don’t seem funny at the time, but get funny later on. Have you ever had situations like that? Can you share a couple of them? Some situations are not funny, but threaten the safety of others. Can you give an example of these types of situations? Different things work with different children and children’s needs change as they grow. Give examples of how children change as they grow. What kinds of things work with younger children but not with older children? How will you change your parenting in response to the changes in the children? Sometimes appointments with doctors and other service providers require work schedule flexibility. Describe the flexibility you have in your work schedule. If you sometimes can’t get out of work, do you have other people who could help you out with your children’s appointments? Would you be willing to move to a different home, a different part of the city, or a different part of the state to meet the needs of your adopted child? What sorts of other changes would you be willing to make to accommodate children you adopt? Do you understand that new information about children may come to light after they have been adopted? How do you think you might respond if you find out about abuse and other traumas that you didn’t know about when your child or children were first placed? What kinds of information and resources might be helpful to you? Are you willing to learn from experience and change your behaviors accordingly? Have you done this before? If so, describe a couple of these situations. Many adopted children have had difficult and damaging pasts. Can you accept things you cannot change, such as their pasts? Describe one or more situations where you had to accept something you couldn’t change. Are you willing to change your lifestyle to accommodate what children need to thrive? Some of those changes may mean working part-time or developing new social networks. What types of changes would you be willing to make? Though adoption typically requires some changes in your lifestyle, it also is important to keep up with your own interests and activities. What activities and interests do you very much want to keep and which ones might you either give up or attend to far less frequently? Please discuss.

4. 5.

Flexibility & Adaptabilit y

1.

2.

3.

4.

5. 6.

7.

8.

9. Professionals may have views about your children that are different from your own. How would you talk to them about these differences? How would you handle it with professionals if the children are easier to deal with than they had told you? What if the

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IRASS Page 66 of 75 children are much more challenging than the professionals led you to believe? What might account for these differences?

Emotional Capacities

1. 2.

Can you express your emotions directly, honestly, and respectfully? Describe how you do that? Parents often live vicariously through their children and see their children as an extension of themselves. How would you handle feeling that other people blame you for your children’s problems, such as poor grades in school or problems with anger management? It is difficult not to react similarly when someone is highly emotional. Can you keep your cool when your children are highly emotional, including being angry at you, destroying property, or harming other persons? How would you keep your cool? Many adoptive children have attachment problems. Can you deal constructively with your emotional responses when your child or children appear to reject you and are loveable with other people? Or one or more of your children does not express affection toward you? Do you understand why an adoptive child might behave in these ways?

3.

4.

5. You realize that losing your cool could result in your acting in ways that might frighten, worry, or threaten your children. Do you know when you are about to lose your cool? 6. What are some of the signs that you are about to lose your cool? What do you do to prevent losing it? Is there someone to take over for you when you are too angry and upset to deal with your children in constructive ways? 7. If you lose your cool with your child and then do something you later regret, can you make amends while also remaining an authoritative parent? How would you explain this to a child? 8. 9. Children need to see parents modeling respectful behavior at home. Can you apologize to your children when you over-react to their behaviors or cause them to worry? Please discuss. Some children available for adoption have emotional problems resulting from abusive pasts. Some children know which buttons to push to set someone off. The emotions that some children evoke in parents are beyond the capacities of parents to cope. What would you do in a situation that stretches your emotional capacity? Parents who have successfully coped with, adapted to, and overcome adversities in their own lives often have a deeper understanding of the issues faced by adoptive children? What adversities have you faced and overcome? Can you empathize with the adversities the adoptive children may have experienced? Can you put yourself in their situation and understand how they have felt and why they have done the things they have done? Many adopted children’s behaviors are related to previous traumas. Can you set limits and be an authoritative parent even when you empathize with their difficult pasts? Do you admire other people, including children, who have survived adversities and manage

Resilience

1.

2.

3. 4.

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IRASS Page 67 of 75 to go on? Describe someone who has done that and what you admire most about him or her.

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Family and Social Networks
Teamwork
1. Do you have friends and family members who can help with childcare, transportation, and more extended care when you want to take a vacation or travel? What kind of planning and organizing would you have to do in order for them to help? 2. Do you have a partner, a friend, or a family member who would take over if you want time away from your child or children on the spur of the moment?
3. Do you think you will have good working relationships with school personnel, medical doctors, and other service providers? Do you feel comfortable sharing personal information with them, asking them questions, and challenging their decisions? Give some examples of why this might happen. Give some examples of what you might do when thing are not going well. Children thrive when they are free to talk about their biological families and other persons important to them. How will you deal with children’s desires for such conversations? Children often do much better in adoption placements when they have contact with members of their biological families, such as parents, grandparents, and siblings, and other persons important to them. How will you help children maintain these contacts? If such contacts are dangerous or somehow threaten children’s well-being, how will you deal with that? Letters, pictures, and other mementoes from the children’s past can help children develop a positive identity. Will you keep such mementoes and share them with the children at appropriate times. How will you do this? Biological families are important to adopted children for many reasons. Do you think you have capacities for talking with your adoptive children about their biological families in ways that are fair, balanced, and kind?

Maintaining Contact with Biological Families and Other Persons Important to the Children

1. 2.

3.

4.

Willingness to Deal with Reactions of Others to Your Adoptive Parent Status

1.

Sometimes other people make inappropriate comments or ask inappropriate questions about adoptive children and/or parents’ status as adoptive parents. How will you handle inappropriate comments? Sometimes other people give you unsolicited advice about how to handle your adopted children. How will you handle unsolicited advice? Sometimes adoptive parents feel others blame them for children’s challenging behaviors. What kinds of things might your family say? Friends? Professionals? How will you handle your sense that others blame you? How will you handle things if some family members or friends do not support your adoption of your children? Sometimes school personnel and persons in other settings treat children unfairly. What will you do if this situation arises?

2. 3.

4. 5.

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Impact of Adoption on Family Relationships

1.

Adoption will change your relationship with other children in your home, if you have them. How do you feel about those changes? How would the other children feel about it? What are some of those changes? Adoption will affect your relationship with your partner. What kinds of changes do you expect? Are you prepared to accept and deal with these changes? Please discuss. Adoption will have an effect on your relationships with your extended family. How does your family feel about adoption? Who in your extended family will be supportive? Please discuss. If there are other children in your family, do they want you to adopt? Why do they feel that way? Have you included the other children in your family in preparations for bringing an adoptive child into your home? What were some of those preparations? Are the other children in your family educated about the issues and behaviors that adoptive children may have? What types of issue have you discussed with them? Are the other children in your family able to cope with the issues and behaviors that the adoptive child may have? How will you help them cope?

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

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Values, Expectations, and Beliefs
Altruism

Altruism

1. 2.

Some adoptive parents adopt because they want to do something good for another person. What do you think of this? Have you ever thought this is a reason for you to adopt? Some adoptive parents think that every child deserves a loving home. What do you think of this? Have you ever thought this is a reason for you to adopt?

Realistic Expectations About Yourself and the Children

1.

Parents have expectations of their children. Sometimes they are not aware of all these expectations. What are some of your expectations? Can you imagine that you currently are not aware of all your expectations? Please discuss. Parents also have expectations for themselves, often based on their own experiences as part of a family. Parents often do not realize what those expectations are until they are in particular situations. Do you recognize that you have expectations for yourself as a parent? What are some of those expectations? How do you think these expectations will affect your parenting? Often the expectations parents have for themselves and for their children might not be realistic, but based more on a story-book type of family. What are some of the unrealistic expectations you think you might have about your role as a parent and your expectations of your children? How will you deal with these story-book expectations? Do you have capacities for changing your expectations for yourself and for your child or children while maintaining your role as authoritative parent? Give an example of a time you had to change your expectations of yourself and how you handled it. How about an example of a time you had to change your expectations of someone else?

2.

3.

4.

Admiration of the Children

1. 2. 3.

Do you have a sense of the resilience that adopted children have? Please discuss. What will you do to show your adopted child that you appreciate the interests, emotional capacities, and activities that have meaning to them? What will you do to provide opportunities for your adopted children to develop their interests, their emotional capacities, and activities that have meaning to them?

Spirituality

1. 2. 3.

Do spiritual matters have meaning in your life? Please discuss and provide examples. Note: membership in a specific faith community is not a requirement for adopting children. Do you feel part of a group that provides you with a sense of belonging and support? Please discuss. Some children want to express their faith and spirituality within communities that they prefer. These communities could be different from your own. Please discuss how you would handle this.

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IRASS Page 72 of 75 4. Some parents don’t have a faith community themselves. If you don’t belong to a faith community, how will you ensure that your children are part of a faith community if they want to be? Do you do all you can to ensure that difficult situations are handled well? Do you also trust that you will be able to live with whatever might happen in the future? Please discuss and provide examples. Have you experienced hurt and loss? Do you look for something positive to draw from these experiences? Please discuss and provide examples. Do you think you can foster a sense of trust in your adoptive children so that they will do all they can to ensure that a difficult situation turns out well? Do you think you can help them accept whatever does occur? Please discuss and provide examples. Do you see adoptive parenthood as giving you a sense of purpose? Please discuss and provide examples.

5.

6. 7.

8.

Sense of the Future

1. 2. 3.

Do you think about and plan for questions/issues your children may have regarding race? What questions might children ask? Do you think about and plan for questions/issues your children may have regarding family of origin? What questions might children ask? Will you make plans for your children’s education? What are some of those plans? What will you do if the children do not share your plans? What will you do if the children don’t have the aptitude to share your plans? Are you willing to make arrangements for the care of your children should you become incapacitated or die? Who would be a good care giver for your children? Who would be in charge of financial issues? What other special arrangements would you make?

4.

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Creating Healthy Environments
Play, Hobbies, Sports, and Recreation
1. Children need to have physical activities and hobbies that build their body strength, provide them with an outlet for energy and give them a sense of competence. What hobbies and recreational activities would you share with your child? Pretend games, what-if games, and re-enactments, such as talking about and acting out what it was like to say good-bye to biological parents, are important for adoptive parents to know. Are you familiar and comfortable with such games? Do you think that you could create some of these games? Please discuss.

2.

Physical Environmen t

1.

Sometimes adoptive children require special accommodations, such as a bedroom on the first floor, a fenced-in yard, or vehicle that can accommodate wheelchairs. Are you prepared to make these accommodations? How, for example, would you go about accommodating children who have ADHD? Some homes have items that are irreplaceable, such as family heirlooms. Do you believe that children should learn not to touch certain items and you will not remove these items? Or are you prepared to put such items away until you are confident that your children will not damage or destroy them? Children need a space to call their own. Will they have their own bedrooms? Will they have a space in the home where they can put their things and no one else can use them without the children’s explicit permission? Is there a space in the house where children can be alone if they want to? How will you involve children in the decoration of their bedrooms? Children thrive when they have playmates. Are there children in the neighborhood with whom adopted children can play? Are there children in other neighborhoods that the children can socialize with on a regular basis? Children thrive when they have opportunities for recreation. Are there playgrounds and other recreational facilities for children in your neighborhood?

2.

3.

4.

5.

Personal Resources

1. Do you have the resources such as transportation and childcare that enable you to get your children to doctor’s appointments and other services they need? 2. 3. Do you have a job that allows some flexibility in terms of being able to attend to parenting duties such as school conferences and doctors’ appointments? Do you have money or insurance to pay for services?

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When You and Your Family Need Extra Help
Willingness to Accept Help in Parenting
1. You may need some help parenting the children you adopt. What do you think about using before and after school child care and respite care?

2. Adopted children may need extra help in handling their emotions and behaviors. Could you accept the help of a professional for such issues? Could you help your child or children accept this help? 3. The strong emotions and memories that adoptive parenting can bring up sometimes requires personal therapy. What do you think of therapy? What kinds of things do you think will happen if you go into therapy? How will you find a therapist who suits you? Sometimes professionals recommend that adoptive parents engage in family therapy with their adoptive children. What do you think of this? Would you be willing to engage in family therapy? Please discuss. Sometimes professionals recommend couples counseling to help you parent adoptive children. What do you think of this? Could you see yourself engaged in couples counseling? Support groups for adoptive parents can be helpful. What do you think about such groups? What kinds of things could you learn in support groups? What would keep you away? trainings? What would attract you? What would keep you away?

4.

5.

6.

7. There are trainings for adoptive parents. Are you willing to go to these meetings and

Preparation to Seek Help in Parenting

1. 2. 3.

Are you willing to seek the help that your children and family may require? What kinds of help do you think you might need? Sometimes governmental programs will pay for the help you and your children need. Are you prepared to seek out these services? Please discuss. When problems with adoptive children arise, the best strategy is to seek help and advice from knowledgeable people right away. Describe a situation that might require services. Who are the knowledgeable people you know who could be of help? What makes them knowledgeable?

4. In certain areas of the state, services such as attachment therapy and respite care are difficult to find. How will you handle such problems? Relationship s
1. Good working relationships with service providers is important. Service providers include adoption social workers, physicians, and therapists. What kinds of things would you do to keep good working relationships with these service providers? 2. Can you understand the points of view of service providers without losing touch with your own point of view? Talk about a situation where you had to understand the points of view of others while you knew that you also had a valid point of view. Are you willing to negotiate what you want and do not want from service providers in order to get the best possible help for your child? Talk about a situation where you had to do something similar.

with Service Providers

3.

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IRASS Page 75 of 75 4. After repeated instances of unresponsiveness to requests for services, support, and information, parents may decide that the service providers are doing a poor job. Are you prepared to tell a service provider about your dissatisfaction with the service? How might you do this? Can you be assertive with service providers? Describe a time when you were assertive with someone who was providing you with a service. If you can’t think of an example, please describe a time when you were assertive with someone else about another matter. Are you willing to seek the support of others when you have trouble being assertive with service providers? Who would you ask for help? Are you willing to change service providers if the services are unsatisfactory? How will you do this? Some children may require more supervision or care than you can provide. What will you do if this happens in your family?

5.

6. 7.

Some Adoptions Don’t Work as Planned

1.

2. Some adopted children may never be able to live as independent adults. How do you think you will respond if this happens in your family? 3. 4. 5. Some behaviors of some children can threaten the physical and psychological safety of family members. What will you do if this happens? Some adopted children require out-of-home care. Can you imagine this happening to one of your adopted children? Please discuss. When adopted children go into out-of-home care, they can still be part of their adoptive families. Can you imagine this happening in your family? How do you think you and other family members would respond? What would you do to ensure that a child of yours in outof-home care is part of your family?


 
 
 


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