Posted by Deb Shrier

Most children have participated in a group at some point in their lives -- sports teams, something informal that develops in the neighborhood, a special interest club in school, or involvement in the arts. But what about a group that focuses on how they joined their family? For adoptees, these groups are not easy to find. Over the last several months, JF&CS has hosted two different six-week programs for adopted middle school and high school students. Although due to the age of the children, the groups' discussions and activities varied, the common factor in both were that the participants were adopted. For many of the children, this was their first experience being solely with adoptees!

Each group was led by a social worker (Jeff LaCure and Katie Naftzger) whose clinical practice includes adopted children. Feedback from the groups has been invaluable in helping to plan future programming. Many of the participants were able to talk about their personal adoption experience, thoughts about birth family/birth country, and their adoptive family. The teen group developed many close friendships while exploring their own feelings about adoption. The middle school participants learned from one another about the different types of adoption and were involved in various activities centering on personal exploration.

Feedback from many of the parents confirms that their children are eager to join another group in the spring. The post-adoption initiative at JF&CS will include expanding our group offerings/programming to offer groups for parents of school-aged children as well as workshops for professionals.

Deb Shrier, LICSW, is director of Post-Adoption Services at Jewish Family & Children's Service. Actively involved in the field of adoption both professionally and personally over the last 20 years, Deb's clinical interests include domestic/international adoption, transracial adoption, parenting issues, and search/reunion with birth parents and adopted persons. She has also provided clinical support to adoptive families on birth country tours that include the Philippines, Romania, Guatemala, and Russia. Deb enjoys writing and has contributed to various adoption related publications as well as the JF&CS blog.