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The Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents, pg 6

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Counseling

You might find individual or group counseling with a counselor who is knowledgeable about adoption issues to be very helpful. An experienced therapist can help you untangle which of your concerns are adoption-related and which are adjustment issues that many people in your stage of life go through. You might work on relationship, self-esteem, or parenting issues, as well as discuss whether to search for your child. The outcome of a search can lead to many different emotions that a therapist can help you sort through.

Searching

Searching is another way that birthparents cope. Some of the issues related to searching were discussed above. Searching can take a number of routes: using support groups; hiring an investigator or search consultant; reading literature; surfing the Internet; contacting agencies or attorneys' offices; or hunting down clues yourself. For more discussion of this, read the NAIC publication "Searching for Birth Relatives."

Communicating

Adoption issues often receive a large amount of media coverage. But more importantly, there are a number of books, newsletters, magazines, and on-line information services that concentrate specifically on birth parent issues. These can be especially helpful and comforting if you live in an area where there is no support group or if you are not able to travel to national or regional conferences.

Until recently, there weren't many books about birthparents issues available in public libraries. Now there are a number of books available written by birthparents about their experiences. There are also some books by journalists or researchers who interviewed birthparents.

The larger, nationally based support groups have published newsletters for a number of years. Recently some new newsletters have become available. At least two are for more recent birthmothers who are maintaining contact with their minor children. Their concerns are somewhat different than those of older women whose children are grown and whose adoptions were confidential.

There are also a number of magazines that focus on adoption. Some have a general focus but have specific articles that are of interest to birthparents. Some are about adoptee-birth parent searches and reunions. So far there are no magazines that exclusively address birth parent issues, but who knows what the future will bring?

On-line information services are another tool birthparents can use to communicate with one another. There are general adoption "forums" or "conferences" on these services and specific subsections for birth parent issues. People share stories, information, and resources and become fast friends traveling on the adoption portion of the information superhighway. All you need is the hardware, the software, and a little training to learn how to communicate using this technology.

Conclusion

You should now know that you are not alone and that there are a number of resources available to you, including those of NAIC.

Written by Debra G. Smith, ACSW, director of the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 1995.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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