Nihill: Addressing the challenges of adoption in DuPage County

Community Voice

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 1:15 p.m. CDT

What happens when disruption threatens adoption relationships?

For parents looking to become a family or make a difference in a child’s life, adoption often is an option. Approximately 136,000 children were adopted in the United States in 2008, according to a 2011 report from the Child Welfare Information Gateway of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While many adopted children happily acclimate after going through a period of adjustment to their new home and family, sometimes emotional and behavioral problems persist.

In these cases, the Adoption Preservation program at Metropolitan Family Services DuPage can help. Through intensive home, office and community-based interventions for families formed through adoption or guardianship, Metropolitan’s professional staff offers specialized treatment for attachment and trauma issues, grief or loss resolution, and educational and emotional issues. Metropolitan’s therapists even collaborate with school and day care providers to help advocate and educate providers on the unique challenges adopted children may face. The goal of the program is to maintain the adoption and help families live happily and productively.

One Family’s Struggle

The Reynolds family adopted two infants from Guatemala. As the children grew, Talia began to exhibit aggressive behavior. Her outbursts and manipulations hampered any social activity with other children and adversely affected her sibling, David. In addition to his frustrations with his sister, David also struggled with the fact that he was adopted and would become withdrawn or irritable whenever the topic was brought up. A private psychologist referred them to Metropolitan’s Adoption Preservation program.

Through individual and family therapy, licensed therapist Stephanie Petrey helped the Reynolds family develop strategies to better understand and manage the children’s behavioral issues. And the parents have reported results.

“Talia, now 8, participates in a girl’s adoption group that addresses topics such as social skills, bullying and how to make and be a good friend,” says Petrey. “Her parents continue to implement new parenting techniques to more effectively manage her tantrums. And while David continues to struggle with talking about his adoption, his parents now have a better understanding of his feelings and are able to handle his reaction more effectively.”

For more information about the Metropolitan Family Services' Adoption Preservation program, call 630-784-4800.

Theresa Nihill is the executive director of Metropolitan Family Services DuPage Center.

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