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Services for adoptive families : an exploratory study of needs and attitudes, Vancouver, 1961 Pleas, Roy Thomas 1961

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SERVICES FOR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES An exploratory study of needs and a t t i t u d e s , Vancouver, 1961 by ROY THOMAS PLEAS Thesis Submitted i n P a r t i a l Fulfilment of the Requirements f o r the Degree of MASTER OP SOCIAL WORK i n the School of S o c i a l Work Accepted as conforming to the standard required f o r the degree of MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK School of S o c i a l Work 1961 The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s m a y b e g r a n t e d b y t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r b y h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t b e a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f SOCIAL WORK  T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a . D a t e APRIL 25, 196l i i TABLE OP CONTENTS Page Chapter 1. The Practice of Adoption H i s t o r i c a l perspective. Types of adoption pr a c t i c e s i n North America. Legal aspects of adoption; the Adoption Act of B r i t i s h Columbia. Agency Adoption. Prof e s s i o n a l Practices and theories; the adoptive family and post-placement needs. The adoption p o l i c y of the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver. Some aspects of the home study. Objective and method of study 1 Chapter 2. The Method of Study Parenthood - natural and adoptive. Special services to adoptive f a m i l i e s ; post-adoptive discussion s e r i e s . The questionnaire: the adjustment made by adoptive family. The c h i l d and h i s family. Community attitudes toward adoption 20 Chapter 3. Attitudes of Adoptive Parents Answering the questionnaire. Integration of c h i l d i n t o the family. Challenge to parents. Adoptive parenthood d i f f e r s from natural parenthood. D i f f e r e n t i a l sex preference. Understanding services of agency. Use of community services. Suggested services. Interest i n magazine adoption a r t i c l e s . S t a t i s t i c a l summary 35 Chapter 4. Service to Post-Adoptive Families Theories r e l a t i n g to post-adoption services. Findings of present study. V a l i d i t y of sample returns. Other f i n d i n g s . Conclusions. Recommendations f o r further study 46 Appendices: A. Sample questionnaire. B. L e t t e r enclosure. C. Bibliography. i i i ABSTRACT The suggestion i s growing that adoption agencies have been severing t i e s with adoptive f a m i l i e s too quickly f o l l o w i n g f i n a l i z a t i o n of the adoption. Some s o c i a l workers believe that the adoption agencies should o f f e r services to adoption f a m i l i e s a f t e r the adoption has been l e g a l l y established. The purpose of t h i s t h e s i s i s to -study the at t i t u d e s of adoptive parents toward t h i s suggestion; and to learn what kind of services they would use. For exploratory purposes, f i f t y adoptive f a m i l i e s were selected from the f i l e s of the Vancouver Children's Aid Society. The adoptions had been completed between 1 9 5 3 and 1 9 5 7 • Each c h i l d was placed as a small i n f a n t . A questionnaire was mailed to each family with an accompanying l e t t e r explaining the purpose of the study. The intent was that the adoptive family should show t h e i r desire to use post-adoption services, and indicate the s p e c i f i c kinds of services that they might f i n d to be most h e l p f u l . A series of post-adoption discussions, offered by the Vancouver Children's Aid Society i n cooperation with the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Extension Department, has been the only service available i n Vancouver e s p e c i a l l y f o r adoptive parents. The analysis of the material obtained from the returned questionnaires indicates that the adoptive f a m i l i e s do not desire any a d d i t i o n a l services i n the community which are e s p e c i a l l y designed f o r adoptive f a m i l i e s . Those f a m i l i e s who have made use of available services uniformly report them as most adequate. The f a m i l i e s responding indicated that adoption i s a very s a t i s f y i n g means of obtaining a family, although also there are s p e c i a l challenges i n the roles of adoptive parenthood. Unfortunately, the sample returns were approximately only twenty per cent of the t o t a l sample. This may indicate that most adoptive f a m i l i e s are not experiencing problems and are therefore not conscious of the need f o r services. There i s the p o s s i b i l i t y , however, that because the f a m i l i e s were not prepared f o r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the study i n advance they were reluctant to do so now. Indications are that further research ought to be conducted on some d i f f e r e n t basis i n the area of post-adoption needs and services. i v ACKNOWLED GEMENTS I wish to express my sincere thanks to Mrs. Anne Campbell, Supervisor, Children's Aid Society of Vancouver, f o r her guidance and i n t e r e s t i n the development of t h i s t h e s i s . My sincere thanks also to Mr. Gerald Pepper f o r h i s steady encouragement and sound advice. To my wife, Patty, my most sincere thanks f o r her i n s p i r a t i o n and her invaluable assistance i n typing the o r i g i n a l d r a f t s of t h i s t h e s i s . SERVICES FOR ADOPTIVE FAMILIES CHAPTER I THE PRACTICE OF ADOPTION Adoption, the process involving the acquisition of legal parents other than by birth, i s practi c a l l y as old as history i t s e l f . It was practiced by the Ancient Greeks. Roman Law made provisions for the adopting of adults i n order to assure the continuation of a family l i n e . 1 Adoption of adults has also provided for continual strong p o l i t i c a l leadership i n some ancient dynasties. Each century has made i t s own unique contribution to the adoption story. In the entire f i e l d of social work there i s perhaps no instance which affords a warmer response than that moment i n which a child, who needs a home, i s placed in a home that needs a child. Today, i n North America, there i s universal concern with adoption. This concern i s traditional, and traditionally has been expressed i n many forms, a l l the way from the individual from any walk of l i f e intent on doing good for others, to the unscrupulous black market operator whose goal i s money. 1 Taylor, Audrey, Parental Information for the Adopted  Child, Master of Social Work Thesis, University of Br i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1957, P' 2 . 2 It must be acknowledged that happy results have often come from some of the more or less haphazard adoption methods of child placement. It i s also known that frequently much human suffering and despair have been the results. It i s impossible to measure the actual consequences i n terms of human relationships because of the mult i p l i c i t y of tangential results. The knowledge that much suffering has resulted, coupled with an ever increasing understanding of the importance of esta-blishing solid family ties early i n a child's l i f e has led to the necessity of employing every possible safeguard to assure lasting t i e s . The interests of the individual demand the use of these safeguards as well as the interests of the community. For the past four decades, much effort has been directed i n trying to understand these safeguards and to provide them through means of professional adoption services. Interested professional and lay leaders i n social work have taken much of the i n i t i a t i v e i n this effort. Related pro-fessions have contributed information by working on similar problems i n their respective f i e l d s , for example, the legal and medical professions. Much progress has been made; and in more recent years there has been some courageous experimenting in i n t e r - r a c i a l adoptions and placement of handicapped children as well as a marked increase i n agency adoptions. Adoption i n North America i s usually of four different types. One type, the adoption of a child by a person 3 whose spouse i s the biological parent of the child, or step-parent adoption, i s becoming increasingly more common. For example, i f a divorced or widowed mother were to remarry, i t would be necessary for her husband to adopt any children brought to the marriage by the mother before the children could legally use the name of the husband. A second type i s that i n which a child, biologically unrelated to either of the adopting parents, i s adopted by a couple who have had children born to them or who are able to have a child of their own. This type of adoption i s called a fecund adoption. Most often the fecund adoptive couple have had one child or more of their own, but for some reason, most frequently a physical one, are unable to have any more children. In order to increase the size of their family they turn to adoption as a way of doing so. Fecund adoptive couples have most often experienced biological parenthood. The non-fecund adoption i s a third type of adoption; that i s , the adoptive couple have never had a child born to them. In this case the child adopted by them i s biologically unrelated to either spouse. This l a t t e r type of adoption i s one with which adoptive agencies are most familiar. Indeed, the i n a b i l i t y of a prospective adoptive couple to conceive a child themselves has been a requirement of many adoption agencies up to the last few years, since i t was f e l t that those who could have a child should have their own. Agencies are 4-becoming a l i t t l e more flex i b l e i n this matter; sometimes this f l e x i b i l i t y i s due to a shortage of adoption applications, but more often i s due to the need for homes for hard-to-place, physically or mentally handicapped children as well as children of mixed r a c i a l background. A fourth type of adoption, not commonly witnessed nowdays, i s the adoption of a child by a single parent. Most statutes relating to adoption s t i l l permit adoption by single individuals. However, many authorities recognize one parent cannot adequately meet a l l of the emotional needs of the child. Legal Aspects of Adoption On the whole present-day adoption laws are unable to meet current needs of adoptable children; that i s , within the precepts considered sound for good social work practice. In some instances adoption laws and their interpretation by the law courts reflect old concepts and practice which are outmoded by modern conditions as well as newer, s c i e n t i f i c knowledge."'' There have been many changes i n the whole are of adoption practices. It i s anticipated that as more and extensive research in child welfare i s carried out adoption practices w i l l undergo even further modification. Generally, however, adoption laws throughout North 1 Shapiro, Michael, "A Study of Adoption Practice," Child  Welfare League of America, Vol. I, Apr i l 1956, p. 93 • 5 America are similar. The courts usually require that a child must have resided with the adopting parents for a specified period, on the average about one year, before permission to 'adopt may be requested from the court. In the Province of Bri t i s h Columbia according to the Adoption Act, the stated period i s one year. Before the adoption petition can be pre-sented in Supreme Court, there are particular legal procedures that must be followed. At least six months before the petition i s f i l e d , the Superintendent of Child Welfare must be notified of the intention to adopt. The Superintendent reports to the court recommending that the adoption order be issued or not. The report i s prepared by the social worker who supervised the adoption home during the probationary period. On the basis of the report, the judge, i f satisfied that the home i s suitable for the child, issues the adoption order. This order esta-blishes a l l legal privileges and responsibilities between adopting parents and child. In submitting the report to the court, the following written consents are required: 1. Consent of natural parents; 2. Child's consent i f he i s 12 years of age or over; 3. Legal husband's consent i f the natural mother was married at the time of the birth of this child ( i f the mother was unmarried her consent i s s u f f i c i e n t ) . 6 Under special circumstances the consent of the natural parents may be waived, for example, when the parents are incapable of giving consent or i f they cannot be located. In this instance i t i s necessary to submit to the court an affidavit enumerating the reasons why the consent cannot be obtained. In some instances where parents are incapable of giving satisfactory care to a child considered adoptable, the child i s made a ward of the agency, that i s , guardianship i s transferred from the parents to the agency by court order. If the child i s subsequently placed for adoption, however, parental consent i s required. This i s necessary because the natural parents have the right to petition the court for the return of their c h i l d after guardianship has been transferred to the agency. The natural parents also must sign a "consent" to the adoption of their child into another home. This has usually been discussed with them and their approval of this home i s needed. In Br i t i s h Columbia, consent at time of placement does not constitute a f i n a l relinquishment of the rights of the natural parents. Should the adoption placement f a i l and should the child subsequently be placed i n a second adoption home, another consent would have to be obtained from the natural parents. Agency Adoption Adoption agencies d i f f e r somewhat in their techniques but generally, agreement i s found i n fundamental areas. Agencies 7 set up certain requirements which applicants must meet i f they are to he considered for a child. These requirements are related to the agency's responsibility to the child, the agency's function, geographical location and coverage as well as the auspices of the agency and kind of children available for adoption. When i t is learned that the applicants meet the i n i t i a l agency requirements, a home study i s i n i t i a t e d . In the home study the agency evaluates the applicants' strengths and weaknesses i n their capacity to be parents to a child who is not their own. By means of the home v i s i t , office v i s i t and application form, the agency attempts to know the applicants as well as possible, individually and i n relation to each other. The agency also aids the applicants to discover whether or not they want a child and whether or not they are ready to adopt. Once the home study i s completed•and the applicants have been accepted for a child the agency has the responsibility to select the chil d whose physical and emotional needs can best be met by this applicant. Matching factors are considered important i n so far as sim i l a r i t i e s in backgrounds of both applicant and child tend to f a c i l i t a t e integration of the child into the home. This factor i s accepted by most adoption agencies. 1 The rationale behind matching i s that "a child 1 Shapiro, op. c i t . , p. 53 8 wants to be like bis parents, that parents can more easily identify with a child who resembles them, and that the fact of adoption should not be accentuated by placing a child with parents who are different from him."'*' Following the placement of the child into the adoptive home, there begins the period of supervision. Miss p Audrey Taylor, i n her study of adoptive families, has indicated that as soon as the child i s placed i n the adoption home, his status changes from that of an isolated individual to a member of a family group. The information given to the family about the child, and how this information i s used i s clearly out-lined. The supervision period lasts from six months to one year and even longer in some situations. The purpose of the adoption post-placement supervision period i s to aid the adoptive couple i n making a mutually satisfying adjustment between the child and themselves. Professional Practices and Theories In A p r i l 1956, Michael Shapiro reported on a compre-4 hensive study completed by the National Conference on Adoptxon. 1 Taft, Ruth, "Adoptive Families for 'Unadoptable' Children," Child Welfare, June 1953. 2 Taylor, op. c i t . , p. 53. 3 Ibid., p. 53 f f . 4- Shapiro, op. c i t . , p. 65« 9 A p p r o x i m a t e l y two hundred and seventy a d o p t i o n a g e n c i e s responded t o a survey i n which, one of the q u e s t i o n was whether or not the agency p r o v i d e d s e r v i c e s to an a d o p t i v e f a m i l y a f t e r l e g a l a d o p t i o n . E i g h t y - s i x p e r cent o f those answering t h i s q u e s t i o n r e p l i e d i n the n e g a t i v e . T r a d i t i o n a l l y , most a d o p t i o n a g e n c i e s have f e l t t h a t the main f o c u s o f t h e i r a d o p t i o n p r o -gram i s on the a d o p t i o n home study s i n c e "The time when the (a d o p t i o n ) agency c a r r i e d the h e a v i e s t e v a l u a t i v e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s b e f o r e placement, not a f t e r . The d e c i s i o n t o make the placement i s proceeded by a c a r e f u l s t u d y o f the a p p l i c a n t ' s b a s i c c a p a c i t y f o r p a r e n t h o o d . . . . " 1 In the words of another e x p e r i e n c e d w r i t e r , "The d e c i s i o n t o ac c e p t a c h i l d a t the time o f placement r e s t s w i t h the c o u p l e . Once these d e c i s i o n s are made, th e r e s h o u l d be c o n f i d e n c e on a l l s i d e s t h a t placement i s r i g h t and w i l l be p l a s t i n g . " Because o f the s e r i o u s o b l i g a t i o n t h a t the a d o p t i v e agency has f o r making the b e s t p o s s i b l e placement of each c h i l d i t i s c l e a r l y u nderstood why much emphasis has been p l a c e d upon the importance o f the home study. Once the c h i l d has been p l a c e d almost a l l a g e n c i e s m a i n t a i n c o n t a c t w i t h a d o p t i v e p a r e n t s d u r i n g a s u p e r v i s o r y p e r i o d . D u r i n g t h i s time the agency a s s i s t s i n the adjustment o f c h i l d and p a r e n t s . 1 S h a p i r o , op. c i t . , , p . 65 • 2 Thunen, Margaret, "Ending Contact w i t h Adoptive P a r e n t s , " J o u r n a l o f C h i l d Welfare League of America, November 1958, p. 8. 10 These supervisory v i s i t s following adoption vary in number from several times each month to two or three times per year. Some agencies offer supervisory v i s i t s when necessary. The rationale upon which "post placement supervision" i s based i s that the process of integrating a child into the adopting family does not happen a l l at once, no matter how s k i l l f u l the original placement. Shapiro points out that the role of the agency during the supervisory period i s twofold: " 1 . offer protection to the child; and 2 . give help s p e c i f i c a l l y related to the adoption situation."" 1" At the 1955 National Conference on Adoption the opinion seemed to be that the worker should remain out of the case once the adoption has been legalized. It was stated, "Once the adoption i s completed, the parent-child relationship, genuine i n every respect except the biological one, has been created. Therefore these agencies consider that adoptive parents need services after legal adoption for the same reasons p as do natural parents." Dr. H. David Kirk has suggested that the biological factor i n the parent-child relationship mentioned above might have far more importance than was previously thought. 1 Shapiro, op. c i t . , p. 8 9 . 2 Ibid., p. 6 5 . 5 Kirk, H. David, "A Dilemma of Adoptive Parenthood: Incongruous Role Obligations," Marriage and Family Living, November 1959, p. 316 f f . 11 Kirk describes how the fact that, i n a "biological family", when a new member arrives much emphasis i s placed upon inte-grating the new-comer i n becoming a member of the family. In due time the child i s permitted to move outward, to find companions and playmates outside the family c i r c l e . The child begins to develop alliances with groups other than his own family group. There would appear, then, a twofold requirement of parents toward a new child: 1) i n i t i a l l y , to do a l l they can to integrate the child into the family, and, 2) to then permit the child to move outward from the family. In the biological family, Dr. Kirk says that this progressive movement from integration to increasing autonomy i s f a c i l i t a t e d by the fact of blood-familial t i e s . Members of the biological family know that within rather wide limits they are free to do what they please since their place within the family cannot be easily forfeited. Biological parents know that the child, i n spite of his growing up and away from the protective f a m i l i a l situation, w i l l always belong to the family because of the child's member-ship through biological bonds. For the non-fecund adoptive couple, Kirk suggests that i n the absence of such biological bonds, i t appears that they must place more emphasis on integration than on the d i f -ferentiating forces of autonomy. The adoptive couple has the same role obligations as the biological parents: but, Kirk implies, the adoptive couple are probably more threatened by the aspect of differentiation. He states that "Adoptive 12 parents can be expected to respond by greater-than-ordinary protectiveness to the child by trying, with a l l the means at their disposal, to make inviolable the integrity of their fa m i l i a l unit.""*" One means, which at f i r s t , appears to be logical would be to hide the fact of adoption from the child as well as from others. Thus, as long as the secret was undiscovered the adoptive couple could move toward integration of their child i n the same way as any natural family. However, complete secrecy could seldom be achieved. The couple would fear that the child's background might be discovered. Further, they would be facing the p o s s i b i l i t y that, i f the child learned of his identity, they might be rejected by him. For this reason authorities have insisted for the past several decades the necessity of the candidness between adoptive parents and children concerning the adoptive status of the lat t e r . Such authorities have insisted that the adopted child be made aware of the fact of adoption and have counseled that the word "adoption" be made a household word. If this advice i s followed i t i s possible that the child's f a m i l i a l membership and reference group focus may be blurred. In a natural family the child has but one primary focus of membership within his family. For the adopted child 1 Kirk, op. c i t . , p. 318. 13 there i s one clearly v i s i b l e i n his adoptive family and a second, rather nebulous one from the r e a l i t y of his biological forbearers hovering in the past. By complying with the advice of the adoption experts the adoptive family find themselves i n the position of giving their child a unique position i n the family and society. They are required to t e l l the child rather early i n his l i f e about the fact of adoption at the same time that they are struggling with the requirement of basic fa m i l i a l integration. Kirk suggests that the adoptive family would com-pensate for their lack of support by striving intensely for family integration. If this i s true, t e l l i n g the child that i t i s adopted — actually a differentiating act — w i l l con-front the adopting parents with an insuperable c o n f l i c t . The biological factor in adoption, according to Kirk, thus appears to be a significant one. Because of the biological difference between a natural family and an adoptive family, the latt e r might meet stresses that the former would not experience. It i s suggested therefore, that an adoptive family might need, some time or other, services of an agency precisely because of the adoptive nature of the family. Euth Michaels, an experienced caseworker has written that "increasingly, agencies are offering casework services after placing a child i n a home, i n order to help parents handle their own unanticipated reactions to being parents to a 14 adopted child, rather than to the biological children they had hoped to have."'*' Florence Brown, Executive Director of the Louise Wise Services in New York City recently wrote: I would like to restate my conviction that adoption agencies have an important service to offer parents and their adopted children i n later years. Some of these services are given at the i n i t i a t i v e of the parents or grown adopted children. In addition, I believe that agencies should be ready to take the i n i t i a t i v e i n offering extended services. Discussion groups can be of great help to adoptive parents, and can also enrich our knowledge in the adoption f i e l d . Such a program supplements what we t r y to do during the post placement period and offers a further opportunity of strengthening family l i f e . 2 Miss Brown goes on to say that i n most ways the adoptive parents do not d i f f e r greatly from the other parents and should therefore use the available community resources. However, the adoption agency should continue to help i n those areas which relate to the adoption directly. Jules Schrager, Resource Staff member, Association for Family Living in Chicago, I l l i n o i s wrote: Perhaps agencies could offer help to adoptive parents at points which are known to be 1 Michaels, Ruth, "Special Problems i n Casework with Adoptive Parents," Social Casework, January 1952, p. 24. 2 Brown, Florence, "Services to Adoptive Parents after Legal Adoption," Child Welfare, July 1959, p. 2 2 . 1 5 ' c r i t i c a l ' in the developmental process of a l l children.... Such services might properly he offered by agencies whose primary purpose is something other than adoption. This would seem important i n order to avoid anxiety on the part of some parents that the agency which has the power to give can also have the power to take away babies.1 It i s seldom true that adoptive parents are f a i l i n g entirely as parents, although some might think so. For the most part they are carrying complete responsibility for their child. Should a family come for help, for whatever pressure, i t i s an acknowledgement of their responsibility for their child. Whenever the caseworker can show them that they are adequately f i l l i n g their parental role he demonstrates to them their basic worth as well as their parental capacity. "Adopting parents are especially vulnerable on the subject of their functioning as parents; i t i s natural that they should feel more threatened than other parents by their need for p help i n their relationship with their child." Agency Setting - Vancouver Children's Aid Society The Vancouver Children's Aid Society, a modern child placement agency, believes that the child i s the primary focus of i t s policies and procedures. They also believe that adoption i s the best plan for every chi l d who i s free for 1 Schrager, Jules, "After Adoption - An Agency Sponsored Program," Children, July-August 1 9 5 7 , p. 140. 2 Michaels, op. c i t . , p. 22. 16 adoption and who w i l l benefit from the security offered i n normal family l i v i n g . They have observed that early placements are preferable, directly from the hospital, i f possible. They see the importance of continuous loving care beginning at the birth of the child. Planning for the infant to be placed for adoption follows a well established procedure at the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver. Weekly conferences are held and attended by the adoption department caseworkers and supervisors, the caseworkers involved with the adoptable children, as well as the placement supervisors. At these conferences the mother's worker presents the background information of the child. The adoption worker, on the basis of this information, may feel that he has a home that might meet the needs of the chil d . The mother's worker and the adoption worker then discuss i n the conference the s u i t a b i l i t y of the various homes available and decide together on one (or two, i f necessary) families. The chosen home i s then discussed with the natural mother. No identifiable information i s given; only sufficient, relevant information i s offered. If the mother i s satisfied with the description, the adoption worker i s notified who in turn contacts the adoptive parents and discusses the child with them. Background information i s given to the adoptive couple, usually beginning with what the prospective parents want to know. 17 If the adopting parents are interested they are shown the baby. The parents are given adequate time to think and talk over between themselves and with the worker their decision about taking the child. If the couple appears to be accepting of the child, who i n turn, responds to the parents, the worker arranges for the couple's doctor to examine the child. When the doctor i s satisfied that the child i s reasonably sound of mind and body, he advises the adopting parents who informs their worker. On the day of placement the adoption worker accom-panies the adopting parents to the hospital or foster home. The couple are given the necessary information regarding feeding formula, eating and sleeping habits and care of the baby. Before the child i s transferred to the adopting couple, the worker must make certain necessary consents are in order. The probationary or the after-placement supervision period follows. The worker's role is to help with problems that arise i n the adjustment of the child and the parents to each other. The worker observes the child and i n his dis-cussion with the parents i s able to assess the child's development. The child's general health, appearance and ac t i v i t i e s indicate to the worker his adjustment in the home. The adoption of the f i r s t child should be legally completed before a second child i s placed, except in the case where siblings are placed together. The placement of an older child 18 should not follow the placement of a younger child. A second child should not he less than ten months younger than the f i r s t child as would he true of a natural, fecund family. Purpose of Study The special purpose of this study i s to attempt to learn i f adoptive couples want services of adoption agencies after the probationary period has ended and the adoption has become legalized i n Court. If the adopting couples do want services of the adoptive agency at this period, do they want these services as an adoptive family or as any natural family might want them? The method chosen i n this study was a mailed questionnaire sent to a selected group of adoptive parents to obtain their opinions about adoption services. These parents, chosen from the f i l e s of the Vancouver Children's Aid Society, completed their adoptions between the years 1953-1957' The parents were not asked to participate i n this study prior to sending out the questionnaire. Had there been more time available, i t would have been advantageous to have prepared them for the reception of the questionnaire and to have sought their willingness to participate i n the study. The study i s deliberatively exploratory and qualitative i n form. The particular years were chosen because the agency's present adoption policies have not been greatly 19 changed. It was also thought that those families who completed an adoption prior to 1957 would not at this time be in the process of adopting. A l e t t e r accompanying the questionnaire explained the purpose of the study, indicating that i t would be of value in helping new adoptive applicants, i f the adoptive family could evaluate and share their experience. CHAPTER II METHOD OP STUDY Most people who adopt children today feel that adoption i s a natural and satisfactory means to have a family when i t i s not possible for one reason or another to have their own children. Adoption i s accepted by these parents although the fact of adoption i s pushed back into their minds as they more and more come to love the child as i f i t were born to them. Adoptive parents usually accept their respon-s i b i l i t y of t e l l i n g the child that i t i s adopted. In recent years the necessity of doing so has become less a struggle for the adoptive parents. More consideration i s now being given to the "when and how" i t i s to be done. Almost a l l parents experience time and time again what, for lack of a better word, i s called a 'problem'. Children who are growing and learning pass through stage after stage of upsetting or i r r i t a t i n g behaviour. Almost every mother of a happy eight month old chi l d has been dismayed to see the child burst into tears at the sight of a neighbour who i s anything but a stranger to the child. The father of a two year old i s often astonished to see his "big boy" 21 suddenly cling to his mother and hide his face i n her s k i r t . Are there parents anywhere who have not experienced i n their children some form of lying, swearing, using "dirty words", disobedience, rudeness, and so on which seem to show up with-out any obvious reason? Frequently parents blame themselves. They feel that somehow they are f a i l i n g as parents. They ask themselves questions such as, have they over-disciplined their children? have they indulged them too much? have they somehow caused them to feel insecure? If biological parents react this way, i t i s possible that adoptive parents experience an even greater challenge to prove themselves to be faultless in their approach to parent-hood. On the other hand, i t i s possible that because of adequate preparation for parenthood by the agency prior to the actual placement, that the parents are capable of meeting the challenges thought to be present i n adoption. The professional assistance received from the caseworker, as well as the potential of the prospective adoptive parents must not be over-looked. Each adoption placement i s unique. No two children and no two adoptive couples are alike. For many problems which an adoptive child might have, solutions w i l l be found that vary from one adoptive couple to another. Reputable adoption agencies are now asking themselves whether or not they ought to offer some special service to adoptive couples in helping them meet problems related to the adoption of a child. In planning this study the aim was to learn from the 22 adoptive parents their desires i n the matter of post-adoption services; what services, i f any, do they need and want within the community, in addition to services presently available. In addition, the adoptive parents were asked to show their willingness to use community social services. The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Extension Depart-ment in conjunction with the Children's Aid Societies (Roman Catholic and Protestant) of Vancouver announced in Pebruary, 1959 a post-adoption group discussion series entitled, "A Family - By Adoption". This discussion series was the results of the efforts of Mrs. Catherine C o l l i e r and Mrs. Anne Campbell of the Vancouver Children's Aid Society and Miss Marjorie Smith, Director, Family Life Program of the University of B r i t i s h Columbia Extension Department. Miss Smith had recognized for some time that, although the Family Life Program was developing rapidly i n the Vancouver area (there were 50 groups of from 30 to 40 parents receiving services under the supervision of trained group leaders), there seemed to be a special group of parents not receiving any particular attention. Parents of children with special needs were not receiving specialized services. Parents of adopted children were i n this category. Miss Smith recog-nized the importance of learning more about the special needs of adoptive families, what were the problems, i f any, and how were they being met within the community? 2 3 Mrs. Catherine C o l l i e r , Casework Supervisor, had observed that, occasionally, adoptive parents returned to the agency seeking help in meeting some need peculiar to their own family situation. Mrs. Co l l i e r and Mrs. Campbell sub-sequently wrote, "Although i t has been the practice for adoptive parents to sever connections with the adoption agency when legal adoption has been completed, some parents have subsequently returned to the agency for help with a specific problem."'1* Prior to February 1 9 5 9 the Children's Aid Society offered no specific post-adoption family service. Each family returning to the agency following the fi n a l i z a t i o n of adoption was dealt with on an individual basis. This sometimes involved a ref e r r a l to one of the specialized social services of the community, such as the Child Guidance C l i n i c i n Burnaby or the Family Counselling Service. Most often, however, an attempt was made to meet the need of the family within the agency's own services. A circular describing the discussion series was mailed to over one hundred and twenty-five adoptive families who had adopted children from the Vancouver Children's Aid Society. A le t t e r from the Society discussing their part i n the series accompanied the circular. The intention of the series was to limit participation to about twenty-five persons, parents of 1 C o l l i e r , Catherine and Campbell, Anne, "A Post-Adoption Discussion Series," Social Work, Apr i l I 9 6 0 , p. 1 9 2 . 24 pre-school, adopted children. Those families who received an announcement therefore, had adopted children after 1954. The discussion series was held on five consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning February 18, 1959. No publicity was. given the discussion series other than by means of the circularized announcement. Twenty-seven persons attended the f i r s t session, twenty-eight attended the second, twenty-six attended the third and twenty-three the fourth and twenty-nine attended the f i f t h and f i n a l discussion session. The parents had been asked to submit any question they wished discussed. The questions were sent i n writing along with the application form. Judging from the frequency particular questions were asked, the f o l -lowing were most important: (1) Questions relating to explaining to a child i t i s adopted. (2) Concern of adopted children and adoptive parents about natural parents of child. (3) Questions pertaining to illegitimacy which implied a need by the adopting parents for a deeper understanding of the implications of this factor for the adopted, illegitimate child. (4) The probation period — i t s value and i t s d i f f i c u l t y for many adoptive parents. 1 1 C o l l i e r and Campbell, op. c i t . , p. 193 . 25 Of those parents attending the discussion series seeking help with their problems i t was said that "to our knowledge none of the parents sought help for the child nor had any of these children special d i f f i c u l t i e s i n school","** -• and further, " i t seemed obvious that a l l members were seeking p help with some aspect of adoption." No formal research was entered into by the Children's Aid Society or the Extension Department prior to the advent of the post-adoption discussion series. The series was based i n part on the number of adoptive parents who had actually sought some assistance with a family problem. The need for the series was also based upon the Extension Department's desire to reach a larger number of families with the Family Life Program. There were no s t a t i s t i c s available based upon a study of adoptive parents indicating that they experienced problems as a group and what percentage of adoptive families needed social services relating to the fact of having an adopted child in the home. No one actually knew what number of the total adoptions had been successful. (A successful adoption i s thought of as one i n which the parents and child had made a satisfactory adjustment and no problems relating to the factor of adopting were present i n the home.) It was presumed that most of the adoption placements made by the Vancouver Children's 1 C o l l i e r and Campbell, op. c i t . , p. 193 2 Ibid. 26 Aid Society had been, relatively satisfactory. It was a fact that some parents returned to the agency seeking help with their adoption problems, therefore there might be some parents who were experiencing problems for which they could use help, but f a i l e d to return to the agency because of the widespread belief that no specific post-adoption service was offered by the agency. Some parents might turn to the agency for help with their problems for other reasons, either real or imaginary. It was important to learn from the adoptive parents who did not respond to the original invitation to attend the post-adoption discussion series, the reason for their indifference. A questionnaire, i t was hoped, would make known some of the reasons for this; also, to learn from the adoptive parents what services, i f any, they would appreciate having available i n the community to meet their specific needs and i f they would use these services. There was, i n i t i a l l y , some question concerning the propriety of contacting the adoptive parents by a mail questionnaire without f i r s t asking their permission to participate i n this study. The adopting agency guarantees the adoptive couple that their adoption w i l l remain confidential and their names w i l l not be given to anyone who is not directly involved i n the adoption. The adopting parents had not been prepared at the time of adopting for eventual contact by the agency i n terms of research. It was f e l t , because of the limitation of time available, i t would be impossible to s o l i c i t the willingness of adoptive parents to 27 participate i n the study. For this reason the questionnaire was sent to f i f t y adoptive parents with an accompanying l e t t e r over the signature of Mr. S. H. Pinkerton, the agency director, requesting the recipient to participate i n this survey, hut to ignore the request i f a fear was present of violating the confidentiality of the recipient. By this means the adoptive parents who did not wish to participate would not he offended by having received this request from the society. Explanation of the Questionnaire The purpose of the questionnaire was threefold: to learn from the adoptive parents i f they used services available i n the community. If they did not, was i t because they did not need services, or because they were unable to locate a service which would be helpful to them. Finally, would adoptive parents use a specific service for adoptive families i f i t were offered to them? The composition of the family i s important and for this reason i t was necessary to ask the family the age and sex of each adopted child. Knowledge of relative or proximate closeness of the adopted children to each other was also necessary because of the possible relationship of their close-ness to specific problems, for example, sibling r i v a l r y . The age of any adopted child when placed i n an adoptive home i s significant. The adoptive family appears to prefer receiving 28 t h e i r adopted c h i l d as an infant d i r e c t l y from the h o s p i t a l . 1 The process of i n t e g r a t i n g the c h i l d into the family unit i s usually much l e s s complicated i f the adopted c h i l d has no r e c o l l e c t i o n of i t s own natural family. In the case of adopting a newborn infant one would not expect the adoptive family to meet as great a challenge i n i n t e g r a t i o n as would a family who adopted a c h i l d around the age of three or four years. During the supervision period f o l l o w i n g placement an e f f o r t i s made by the caseworker to prepare the adoptive couple f o r eventual separation of the family from the agency. By encouraging the parents to be independent and to use t h e i r own natural a b i l i t i e s as parents the caseworker i s attempting to help the adoptive parents to see themselves more as do natural parents who have the f u l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r t h e i r c h i l d r e n . The f a c t of the l e g a l i z a t i o n of the adoption makes the c h i l d t h e i r c h i l d i n the f u l l e s t sense of the word. The degree to which the adoptive parents can complete emancipation from the agency would seem to be s i g n i f i c a n t i n r e l a t i o n to future parent-child r e l a t i o n s h i p s and the parents' a b i l i t y to solve, w i t h i n t h e i r own c a p a c i t i e s , any problems a r i s i n g from these r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Learning from the adoptive parents how well they 1 Taylor, op. c i t . , p. 59 29 understood or to what degree they interpreted the adoption services of the agency i s of importance i n r e l a t i o n to t h e i r a b i l i t y to subsequently c a l l upon the agency f o r assistance with a problem. Any negative or p o s i t i v e f e e l i n g which they received was expected to become known by t h e i r explanation as to how the services might be improved. The adoptive parents' a b i l i t y to recognize a problem i s important when considering t h e i r desire to obtain community services. I f the parents f a i l to understand a problem or the need f o r help i n meeting a problem there would e x i s t a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p to t h e i r not using the av a i l a b l e community services. There d i d not seem to be any way i n the question-naire to learn i f a parent was unable to recognize a c h i l d ' s problem. I t would seem important to learn from the adopting parents t h e i r views on e x i s t i n g gaps i n community service. A question i n r e l a t i o n to t h i s question was intended to obtain these views. Adoption has important considerations r e l a t i n g to the adopted c h i l d . To learn from the adoptive parents t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the e f f e c t s of adoption on the c h i l d a question was added with rather vague wording. The i n t e n t i o n of t h i s question was not to confuse the parents but to learn whether or not they considered that, because t h e i r c h i l d was deprived of i t s natural parents, the adoptive parents were placed i n the rol e of having to compensate f o r the loss of 30 natural family ties with an extraordinary amount of affection and attention. The process of integration, thought to be a special challenge i n the adoptive family, can be supported or made more d i f f i c u l t by the support or lack of support on the part of the adoptive parents' relatives. For many couples seeking a child through adoption the support of relatives i s an important factor. Some risks are present in adoption. Doubt and uncertainty appear to be present to some degree i n every adoption. If relatives are not supporting of the prospective adoptive parents' desire to adopt prior to the adoption, the couple could experience further doubt as to the d e s i r a b i l i t y of adopting. Following placement, should a parent-child problem develop, the parents might be slow to seek help with the problem for fear of the relative's further disapproval of their decision to adopt. During the post-adoptive group meetings held at the Children's Aid Society many adoptive parents expressed concern about the community's attitude toward adoption. Many f e l t that the general trend seemed to be a lack of support due to a misunderstanding on the part of the community of adoption and i t s meaning. It was important to learn i f most adoptive parents had the same experience. Support of the adoptive parents on behalf of the community can aid the couple i n their attempts at integrating 31 the adopted child into the family unit. Lack of community support could he a distinct disadvantage i n the process of integration as well as differentiation. Since Dr. Kirk has suggested that society has not yet f u l l y sanctioned the adoptive parental roles nor adequately defined them, i t i s important to know what amount of support the adoptive parents received from their community."'' Positive community attitudes might well indicate the community's readiness to provide the resources of social services needed by the adoptive families i n meeting any problems specific to the adoptive parent roles. In one sense the adoptive families, especially the parents, can be thought of as "experts" i n the adoption f i e l d . They are the people who are l i v i n g with the day-to-day experiences of adoption i n the community. If the adopting parents are meeting some negative responses from the community i t i s important, not only to know what they are, but also to learn from the adoptive parents their suggestions as to how the negative attitudes might be eliminated or modified. A question was asked in an attempt to learn what suggestions the adoptive parents have for improving community understanding and acceptance of the adoption method as a means of obtaining a family. 1 "Community" i s thought of here as being the immediate geographical area in which the adoptive family l i v e s , e.g. Greater "Vancouver, New Westminster, etc. 32 A question was formulated to learn from the adoptive parents their attitude about the effects of adoption on the child and the effects of adoption on the adoptive parents. If there i s no recognition of any special challenge i n adoption in relation to natural families the adoptive parents would more than l i k e l y not be interested in obtaining any community ser-vice s p e c i f i c a l l y established to aid the adoptive parents i n meeting problems i n the nature of a child-parent relationship. It was also hoped that some expression of the parents' attitude about using their own family resources or depending upon community resources might be received. A social service which might be helpful to some adoptive parents would be a supportive service i n which the adoptive parents are helped to review the advantages of obtaining a family through adoption. From time to time some reassurance might well be offered to those adoptive parents whose personal attitudes might have changed from their i n i t i a l exuberance to a somewhat more negative one. It i s possible that some of the challenges adoptive parents meet could effect their attitudes about the wisdom of obtaining a family by adoption. It seemed important to c l a r i f y whether there i s a need for a supportive service. It was expected that because most adoptive parents identify with the phenomenon of adoption they would welcome magazine arti c l e s about a subject to which they were so close. 33 Should the parents suggest that they were interested i n very specific aspects of adoption i t was thought that they would indicate the area i n which they were experiencing some p a r t i -cular d i f f i c u l t y and thus seeking some definite solutions. If the adopting parents indicated their desire to see more artic l e s dealing with the general idea of adoption this would he interpreted to mean that they were asking that articles appear more for the interest of the general public; thus the general public's understanding of adoption would lead to a more adequate support of the roles the adoptive parents have undertaken. The importance of the biological difference i n adoption i s stressed by Dr. Kirk in order to f u l l y understand the process of "integration - differenciation". It was necessary to learn whether or not the adoptive parents were aware of any significance of the biological factor in adoption and i f i t held any consequences for them. Is i t not possible, on the other hand, that the i n a b i l i t y to conceive a child was not a particular handicap to an adoptive couple in their role as parents to an adopted child? The f i n a l question was asked in an attempt to learn i f the adoptive couple would work together i n competing the questionnaire. In the post-adoptive discussion groups i t was s p e c i f i c a l l y noted that the adoptive fathers were much more active and vocal than the mothers. It was thought important to learn i f the adoptive father always took the lead in matters dealing with the adoption in the family. 34 It would have been extremely valuable to have been able to interview, personally, a number of the families who responded to the questionnaire i n order to obtain some qualification for the manner i n which they answered the various questions. It was not known i f the respondents f u l l y under-stood each question answered. Any doubts might have been c l a r i f i e d i n an interview conducted personally. Unfortunately, i t was not possible to make arrangements for personal contact by the author. CHAPTER III ATTITUDES OF ADOPTING PARENTS Louise Raymond, an adoptive mother has written, "When you are on the prowl for problems, you w i l l be sure to find them"."*" It was not the intention of the questionnaire to encourage the adoptive couples queried to make a detailed and intricate analysis of their innermost thoughts about adoption. It has already been pointed out that a l l parents, both natural and adoptive, face problems -and solve them i n their day to day work i n rearing children. Adoptive parents cannot be expected to have any less d i f f i c u l t y i n raising children than natural parents have with their children. The question which Dr. Kirk raises i s indicative of the greater challenge which adoptive parents have because of their lack of a role pattern s u f f i c i e n t l y defined and sanctioned by society to support them i n carrying out culturally required behaviour. That i s , the behaviour required by society of parents i n their parent roles. 1 Raymond, Louise, Adoption and After, Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1955, P- 156. 36 If adoptive parents are having problems as adopting parents, these problems should be quite close to the surface. No amount of "insight examination" was necessary. If the adoptive parents are having problems with which they feel they need help they should have been able to answer the question-naire with f a c i l i t y and ease. The adoptive parents to whom questionnaires were sent were parents of families i n which the legal adoption was com-pleted between five and seven years ago. The study consisted of a mailed questionnaire sent to f i f t y couples. What was sought was not only the individual adoptive couple's attitudes, but an index of what adoptive parents f e l t i n general. Integration of Child Into the Family It would appear from the manner i n which the respondents reported on positive and negative attitudes which they have experienced in the community that the process of integration i s aided by the general attitude of the community. Eighty-two per cent of the returned questionnaires clearly demonstrated that the parents have not met negative attitudes regarding adoption. One of the respondents insisted that a negative attitude was experienced on one occasion only, and from only one person. Some of the positive attitudes stated were: "They (tne adopted children) are well accepted — so very many families i n our community have adopted children". 37 Another wrote "I would say the neighbourhood, as a whole, has accepted them (the adopted children) the same as the others (natural children)". A third couple wrote "We have found ready acceptance of adoption as alternate to natural children". One couple very succinctly showed the neighbourhood's positive attitudes with the following words, "There are ten adopted children in our immediate v i c i n i t y " . The attitudes of the relatives of the adoptive parents, seemed, in general, to be supportive of the integration factor i n adoption. F i f t y - f i v e per cent of the sample indicated that the relatives were accepting before and after the adoption was entered into. Forty-five per cent indicated that the attitude of relatives improved following the adoption. No one reported a lack of support or acceptance on the part of a relative. In one case the respondent reported, "They (the relatives) were not aware of these intentions (intentions to adopt). They (now) try to make no difference between our adopted and our natural children but we believe they feel a difference". It should be noted that this case was the only one i n which the parents had natural children as well as adopted children. In one instance i t was reported that prior to adoption the relatives for the most part appeared to be "cooperative". Once the adoption had been made and final i z e d the attitude changed to "complete acceptance". The positive attitudes of the community coupled with 38 the acceptance and encouragement on the part of the relatives of the adoptive families was evidently a definite aid to the parents responding i n the survey. It would appear that the support received from these two sources helped the adoptive parents meet the challenge of the integration of the adopted child into the family unit. Recognition of Difference of Adopted Children and Adoptive  Parents i n Adopted Children In responding to the question, "Are there some special challenges inherent in the fact of adoption for the adopted child", forty-five per cent of the respondents i n d i -cated that there are definite challenges to the child. No respondent suggested that there were none, although f i f t y - f i v e per cent f a i l e d to answer this question. Some of the respondents suggested "Yes, wondering who their real parents were and why they weren't kept", and "Yes, and knowing i t f i r s t i s very important". One respondent f e l t that i t was most d i f f i c u l t for adopted children to liv e and play with natural children because of "other children's remarks on adopted children". Most of those answering this question answered with a "yes", but did not qualify their answer. It i s not certain whether their adopted children had met some challenging experiences or i f this was a feeling the adoptive parents 39 have about any adopted child. Challenge to Adoptive Parents Seventy-three per cent of the respondents recognized that there are special challenges inherent i n the fact of adoption for the adoptive parents. Twenty-seven per cent f a i l e d to answer the question. The one factor that appeared to be the greatest challenge was the responsibility the parents have to t e l l the child i t i s adopted. This was stated in various ways. One reported, "I feel this ought not be a problem i f -explained to a child early, but we can never be certain we've done a good job of i t t i l l later". Another stated that a challenge inherent in adoption to the parents i s "to t e l l children early and persist u n t i l adoption i s understood by child" . S t i l l another f e l t that "to give an adequate explan-ation to the child of what adoption means to the child" i s one of the most challenging jobs for adoptive parents. One respondent rather humorously stated that one of the greatest challenges to the adopting parent i s "Answering questions that seem s i l l y without losing patience to be t a c t f u l " . Also, "to set a good example of a happy home and teach the child to follow" and "explaining to the child of their natural parents" were two significant statements of respondents. One adoptive mother wrote, "Our l i t t l e g i r l i s only six years of age and we have never met with any d i f f i c u l t i e s and don't anticipate any; however, we have a good many years 4-0 yet before we could honestly answer this question". It was f e l t that those who did not attempt to answer this question had probably the same experience as the above adoptive mother. That i s , they had not experienced any d i f f i c u l t i e s , and were not aware of any inherent challenges present i n adoption for adoptive parents. Adoptive Parenthood and Natural Parenthood Differ In the study made thi r t y - s i x per cent of the respondents suggested that there i s no difference between adoptive parenthood and natural parenthood. F i f t y - f i v e per cent indicated there i s a difference. One respondent did not answer the question. The majority of the adoptive parents feel that, although they obtained their family by adoption, they are not parents i n every sense of the word. The biological factor i s significant to them since they have not been able to produce a child of their own. One mother stated, "Although I have had no children of my own I believe an adopting parent has a more intense love for her child and a more protective love which makes i t a l i t t l e more d i f f i c u l t to not overprotect and over-indulge them". This parent seemed to indicate that an adoptive parent has to be on her guard i n the role of a parent i n order to refrain from emphasizing any difference that adoptive parents and natural parents have i n their roles of parenthood. An adoptive father and mother suggested that adoptive parenthood and natural parenthood not only d i f f e r i n the manner 41 in which the child comes into the home, hut also i n the fact that adoptive parents, in every case, actually choose to he parents. The implication seems to he that natural parents have no choice i n the matter. The parents state, "a family must r e a l l y want children to adopt them". Another adoptive father and mother f e l t strongly that parenthood either by adoption or birth i s an equal challenge and that l i t t l e difference i s evident i n either adoption or birth. They stated i n the questionnaire, "parental attitudes and responsibilities are expressions of the parent's per-sonalities — a parent i s a parent". Differential Sex Preference There was a total of eighteen children reported i n the study. Of this number sixteen were adopted children, two were natural children of adoptive parents. Of the sixteen adopted children, eleven are g i r l s and five are boys. In a l l but two cases, the f i r s t child adopted was a g i r l i f a boy and g i r l were adopted into one family. In only one case was there a boy adopted before a g i r l ; wherein both a boy and g i r l were subsequently adopted. In the remaining instance, twins were adopted, one of each sex. Adopting parents appear to exhibit a greater preference for g i r l s . This phenomenon has been cited and backed with considerable evidence by Ruth P. Brenner 1 1 Brenner, Ruth F., "A Follow-up Study of Adoptive Families," Child Adoption Research Committee, Inc., New York, 1 9 5 1 , pp. 3 7-41. 42 and Margaret Kornitzer. 1  Understanding Services of Agency > In a l l cases the respondents demonstrated that they had a clear understanding of the services of the adopting agency prior to adoption and during the probationary period. A l l agreed that the service prior to placement consisted of group orientation, home v i s i t s , personal interviews, office v i s i t s by both prospective adoptive parents, and of telephone interviews. One respondent stated that the agency "thoroughly check your background". Another respondent added, the agency "investigates the mother's background". This suggests that one of the services offered the adoptive couple, but not always considered as a service, i s the thorough study of the adoptive child's background prior to considering the child for adoptive placement. The service offered adopting couples during the probationary period was clearly stated as a service which involved periodic v i s i t s by a worker from the agency whose responsibility i t was to advise and "inspect" the home in order to determine whether or not the adoption placement was working out mutually for the child and the adopting parents. In answering the question regarding service after 1 Kornitzer, Margaret, Child Adoption i n the Modern World, Putnam, London, 1952, pp. 45 and 77 . the completion of adoption a l l agreed that no service as such, was offered, hut one respondent stated that the agency i s "there to help i f needed". I t was evident from the almost complete negative response to t h i s question that the couples were not aware of any service which the agency might have. Use of Community Services F i f t y - f i v e per cent of those f a m i l i e s studied reported that they had used one of the community services available to a l l c h i l d r e n . The C h i l d Guidance C l i n i c and the Metropolitan Health Services were among those most frequently mentioned. T h i r t y - s i x per cent of the sample said that they had not used any service and one respondent d i d not answer the question. The Health Service was used p r i n c i p a l l y f o r a n t i -p o l i o vaccine and other types of innoculations. No one sug-gested that they had need f o r any service which they could not obtain w i t h i n the community. One respondent not only stated that a community service had been needed and obtained but also commented that "excellent advice and r e s u l t s were obtained". Suggested Services Two respondents, or eighteen per cent of the sample, offered suggestions as to improving services w i t h i n the community f o r adoptive parents. One adoptive mother would l i k e to see playschools and kindergartens av a i l a b l e f o r a l a r g e r proportion of c h i l d r e n , but i t i s unknown whether she was 44 thinking of these f a c i l i t i e s for the exclusive use of adopted children. A second respondent f e l t that adoptive parents i n general could use a service which would help the adoptive parents i n "explaining to the child that he or she i s adopted". F i f t y - f i v e per cent of the respondents f a i l e d to answer this question, while twenty-seven per cent were not able to suggest any service which would be helpful to adoptive parents after completion of adoption. Interest i n Magazine Articles Devoted to Adoption Ten of the eleven respondents stated that they are interested i n magazine arti c l e s dealing with various aspects of adoption. Seven of these would like to see more arti c l e s appear dealing with a variety of subjects discussing, "explaining to the child", "lawyer fees — i t i s like going out and buying a pet at the pet shop", "how successful adoption i s — more people would be inclined to apply for children", and "the attitudes people i n general have, good and bad, more open talk, not so much 'pity' toward adopted children". One respondent stated that while there was no particular interest i n any single aspect they would like to see arti c l e s "written by a well trained person and (who) avoids sensationalism type of reporting". A mother wrote "whether good or bad, I would like to 45 see art i c l e s or discussions motivated by an adult, who had themselves been adopted and how they f e l t towards adoption; the d i f f i c u l t i e s they encountered, where they had succeeded or fa i l e d as adopted children or how their parents had f a i l e d or succeeded". S t a t i s t i c a l Summary Twenty-two parents were involved i n the completed study, eleven fathers and eleven mothers. A l l had completed grade school. Sixteen had only high school education, and of these, seven had completed high school. Six had university education. Eighty-one per cent of the families made over forty-eight hundred dollars a year. Two families made less than this amount while one made less than twenty-four hundred. Of the eleven questionnaires completed and returned, six were completed by the adoptive mother alone and five completed by the mother and father working together on the questions. CHAPTER IV SERVICE TO POST-ADOPTIVE FAMILIES This study has attempted to deal with only two theories relating to services for adoptive families following the completion of adoption. One, the result of the Chicago study as reported by Dr. Shapiro indicated that once the adoption has been legalized, i t has become f i n a l ; that i s , the adoption has been completed. Following the completion of adoption, an adoptive family would need the services of a social agency for the same reason any family would need these services. The fact of adoption would not be of any significance. Secondly, Dr. Kirk has suggested, on the other hand, that as a matter of fact, the adoption i s not completed at the time of the legalization. His theory implies that the adoption i s more than a legal action; i t i s a continuing, ongoing pro-cess which, i n a sense, i s never actually completed. Dr. Kirk further suggests that adoptive parents have d i f f i c u l t roles to perform. They are complicated by the fact of the parents' i n a b i l i t y to conceive as well as the community's failure to recognize and support, f u l l y , the roles adoptive parents must f i l l . 47 In the last few years articles dealing with the need for a re-examination of adoption practices i n relation to post-adoption needs of families have been appearing i n the l i t e r -ature. Some social workers are apparently experiencing a need for some kind of specialized service which would meet the needs of adoptive families who are having problems i n some area of family l i f e . It i s suggested the problems present are direc t l y related to the fact of adoption. Traditionally, adoption agencies have not encouraged adoptive parents to keep i n touch with the agency once the adoption has been legalized. On the contrary, the agencies have more or less insisted that adoptive parents sever a l l ties with the agency since i t was f e l t that, once the adoption i s legalized, the family has been created. For this reason, i t seems to this writer to be valid that a study be made to determine whether or not adoptive parents actually want services following legalization of adoption and what services, i f any, they would find most helpful. The experiment of post-adoption discussion groups in Vancouver has indicated that some adoptive parents do want some kind of service. It i s not known to what extent this desire on the part of adoptive parents i s present amongst a l l adoptive families. Findings of the Present Study This study revealed that the majority of adoptive 48 parents do not feel that they are experiencing parent-child relationship problems for which they need the services of social agencies. They have indicated that the community as a whole has supported them i n their role as adoptive parents. This positive attitude of the community toward adoption, coupled with the additional support and encouragement on the part of the relatives of the adoptive parents, suggests that integration of adopted children into the family i s experienced with r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y . That the adoptive parents responding are not meeting any particularly distressing problems was substantiated i n their response to the question asking about their interest in magazine ar t i c l e s dealing with adoption. The majority of adoptive parents are interested i n reading informative a r t i c l e s . Explaining to the child that i t i s adopted appeared to be of greatest concern. The implication was not whether or not a child should be told but what i s the manner most appropriate for doing so. Most of the parents studied had pre-school children. Evidently they are not certain whether they have done an adequate job in explaining the fact of adoption to the child. Articles dealing with this phenomenon i n adoption would give the parents some basis for comparing their approach to the approach taken by "experts". The adoptive parents indicate that they seek and accept support of their roles as adoptive parents. 49 It i s interesting to observe that adoptive parents are not unwilling to use community services i f they feel that they are needed. Over half of the parents studied had actually received help from services already available. Recognizing the need for help and seeking i t i s evidently not seen as a threat to the parents' a b i l i t i e s to be satisfactory parents. An adoptive parent would be able to return to the adopting agency for support or guidance i f i t was thought to be necessary and i f the agency offered this type of service. The adoptive parents studied do not feel that they are in a l l respects the same as natural parents. It i s commonly agreed that, as adopting parents, they have special challenges inherent i n adoption that they must be aware of and which influence their roles as parents. A f a i r proportion indicated that adopted children also have special challenges which have to be met that other children do not experience. It i s f e l t that because of the awareness of these particular challenges the adoptive parents and children can deal honestly and straightforwardly with each other. The biological factor i n adoption i s an important one i n the minds of adoptive parents. They have indicated that adoptive parenthood and natural parenthood are not similar and the dissimilarity i s due to the adoptive parents not having given birth to their children. The majority of adoptive parents do not feel that this lacktsp can be compensated for 50 by over-indulging the children with an extraordinary amount of affection and attention. There was some indication, however, that the parents must carefully guard against over-protecting the children because the children are seen as having been deprived of their natural parents' love. The factor of the i n a b i l i t y to conceive a child does not severely handicap adoptive parents i n their roles as parents. Validity of Sample Returns Eleven questionnaires were returned out of f i f t y sent to adoptive parents. This i s approximately a twenty per cent return. Adoptive parents are a rather select group of people. Because of this fact i t was anticipated that a mailed question-naire would be a valid research technique. The rate of refusal to respond was expected to be small because of the interest that adoptive parents usually have shown i n a subject with which they are so closely identified. A return of twenty per cent was not considered to be conclusive. A sixty to seventy per cent return was a n t i c i -pated. No questionnaire mailed was returned by the post office because the addressee could not be located. It i s presumed that each questionnaire reached the adoptive parents. The questionnaire, possibly, was not well received because i t was one that could not be answered i n a short period 51 of time. It was so designed that i t would necessitate some careful thinking by the recipient. It was f e l t that any question could have been answered with a minimum amount of reflection. Those who returned the questionnaire varied i n amount of education from incomplete high school to university graduates. It i s possible that the questionnaire appealed only to those adoptive parents with greater education. Other Findings The Vancouver Children's Aid Society has held five post-adoption discussion series. These group meetings have been well attended and the participation of those present has been excellent. From the questions discussed i t i s apparent that the adoptive parents appreciate the opportunity to dis-cuss some of the problems which they are experiencing i n their families. These problems are principally involved with: community attitudes toward adoption; t e l l i n g the child that i t i s adopted; meeting the needs of teen-age adopted children; information about natural parents; illegitimacy; and, the value of the probationary period. It was apparent that each member present at the discussion group meetings was seeking help with some aspect of adoption. Many telephone c a l l s have been received by the agency from adoptive parents who were not direct l y informed by the agency of the existence of the dis-cussion groups, and who would like to attend such meetings i n the future. 52 Conclusion Many agency adoptive placements are very successful. I f problems a r i s e w i t h i n the adoptive family over parent-child r e l a t i o n s h i p s there frequently e x i s t s w i t h i n the family the resource f o r meeting the problem and f i n d i n g a s o l u t i o n f o r i t . The value of the home study i s r e f l e c t e d i n the large number of adoptive f a m i l i e s who are not presently i n need of service. I t i s f e l t that t h i s i s a large percentage of the t o t a l that have adopted through a q u a l i f i e d agency. At the time of adoption, however, the adoptive parents should be informed that the end of the probationary period does not necessarily mean the complete severance of t i e s with the adopting agency. Post-adoption services have an important place i n a good adoption agency. I t would f a c i l i t a t e f u rther research i f the adoptive parents were prepared some-time during the home study or probationary period f o r eventual contact from the agency, po s s i b l y around f i v e years a f t e r the adoption i s completed. I t would be necessary to explain that the agency was not "checking-up" on the family but was attempting to le a r n from the "experts" t h e i r recommendations fo r improving adoption p r a c t i c e s . Recommendations f o r Further Study I t i s suggested that adopted c h i l d r e n who have reached the l a t e teen age years be studied i n the hope that they would 53 have important suggestions to offer i n helping future adoptive parents and children meet and overcome obstacles which they experienced. A survey of social workers in the f i e l d of adoption would also be an invaluable source of information to guide an agency in establishing a useful program of post-adoption practices. Finally, additional studies ought to be undertaken to obtain more qualifying information from the adoptive parents, themselves. This author would like to suggest a study be conducted by the direct interview method of adoptive parents who would be prepared by the agency for such an undertaking. This preparation would conceivably take a longer period of time than i s allowed i n the school year, which i s actually too limiting for an adequate and conclusive study. 54-APPENDIX A THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA School of Social Work QUESTIONNAIRE SURVEY OF ADOPTION FAMILIES INVOLVING THEIR USE OF COMMUNITY SOCIAL SERVICES: 1. Ages and sex of adopted children? 2. Ages of adopted children when f i r s t placed in home? 3. Date last adoption was completed? 4. Have you had contact with the agency since adoption was completed? 5. What service does the Agency offer? (a) prior to adoption (b) during probationary period (c) after completion of adoption 6. Where and how might these services be improved? (a) before adoption (b) during adoption process (c) after completion of adoption 7. Each Community provides special services available to a l l children such as Child Guidance C l i n i c , Metropolitan Health Services, School, Children's Health Centre. Have you had need for help from any of these specialized agencies? .... If so, have you been able to obtain i t ? 8. Can you suggest any different service that might be helpful to an adopting parent? (a) before adopting (b) during adoption process (c) after completion of adoption 55 9 . Generally speaking, do adopted children need more than natural children? Could you explain 10. What was the attitude of your relatives toward adoption when you f i r s t thought of a family through adoption? What i s their attitude now? 1 1 . What are some of the positive and negative attitudes toward adoption that you have met i n the community? Positive Negative 1 2 . How do you think negative attitudes might he modified to create a better understanding of adoptive families? 1 3 . Are there some special challenges inherent i n the fact of adoption? (a) For the adopted child to face? (b) For the adopting parents which might have to be met? 14. What i s your personal attitude now towards acquiring a family by adoption? 1 5 . Do magazine articles about adoption interest you, generally speaking? 16. Would you like to see more arti c l e s dealing with various aspects of adoption? 56 17. Which aspects of adoption would you most l i k e to see discussed? 18. Would you please comment on t h i s statement: "Adoptive parenthood and natural parenthood d i f f e r only i n the way i n which the c h i l d comes to the family" 19. Who completed t h i s questionnaire? Father Mother ... Mother and Father S o c i a l Data ( f o r s t a t i s t i c a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n only) Size of Family Education Income Group Sex Age Mother Father Elementary High (incomplete) High (complete) under $2400 .. 2400 - 4799 .. 4800 - 6000 .. over $6000 .. Uni v e r s i t y Occupation of Father (Please use the space helow f o r any comments which you would l i k e to make.) p 7 57 APPENDIX B CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY OF VANCOUVER, B . C. We are w r i t i n g to ask i f you would be interested i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a research, project concerning adoptions. Our Society considers i t important to be c o n t i n u a l l y increasing knowledge and understanding of adoptive f a m i l i e s Therefore, we are co-operating with the Un i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia and Mr. Thomas Pleas, who i s conducting a study of "Adoption Services" f o r a Master of S o c i a l Work th e s i s . We f e e l that adopting parents themselves have much to contribute to the development of adoption practises I t i s f o r t h i s reason that you are being asked at t h i s time to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the study. I f you have any r e l u c t -ance about t h i s , please f e e l free to ignore t h i s form e n t i r e l y . I f w i l l i n g , we ask that you complete the enclosed questionnaire and return i t to us unsigned so as to protect c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y . Yours s i n c e r e l y , S. H. Pinkerton, Executive D i r e c t o r . AC/cb Enclosure 1 5 8 APPENDIX C BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS Charnley, Jean, The Art of Ch i l d Placement, U n i v e r s i t y of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1 9 5 5 . Goode, William J . , Methods i n S o c i a l Research, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1 9 5 2 . Gordon, Henrietta L., Casework Services f o r Children: P r i n c i p l e s and P r a c t i c e , Houghton M i f f l i n Company, Boston, 1 9 5 6 . Kornitzer, Margaret, C h i l d Adoption i n the Modern World, Putnam, London, 1 9 5 2 . Raymond, Louise, Adoption and A f t e r , Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1 9 5 5 . Young, Pauline V., S c i e n t i f i c S o c i a l Surveys and Research, P r e n t i c e - H a l l , Inc., Englewood C l i f f s , N. J . , 1 9 5 6 . PERIODICALS Brenner, Ruth, A Pollow-Up Study of Adoptive Families, C h i l d Adoption Research Committee, Inc., New York C i t y , 1 9 5 1 * Brown, Florence, "Services to Adoptive Parents A f t e r Legal Adoption," C h i l d Welfare, July 1 9 5 9 . Brown, Florence, "What Do We Seek i n Adoptive Parents?" S o c i a l Casework, A p r i l 1 9 5 1 . Colby, Mary Ruth, Problems and Procedures i n Adoption, U. S. Children's Bureau, P u b l i c a t i o n No. 262, 1941. C o l l i e r , Catherine and Campbell, Anne, "A Post-Adoption Discussion Series," S o c i a l Casework, A p r i l I 9 6 0 . Davis, R. N. and Bauck, P., "Crucial Importance of Adoption Home Study," C h i l d Welfare, March 1 9 5 5 * de Rimanoczy, Magda E., Some Aspects of Adoption Probation, Master of S o c i a l Work Thesis, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1 9 5 6 . K i r k , H. David, "A Dilemma of Adoption Parenthood: Incongruous Role Obligations," Marriage and Family L i v i n g , November 1 9 5 9 . 59 K i r k , H. David, Coamiunity Sentiments i n Relation to C h i l d Adoption, A Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, Cornell U n i v e r s i t y , September 1953* Leahy, A l i c e M., "Some Ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Adoptive Parents," The American Journal of Sociology, January 1933• Lemon, Eleanor, "Rear View Mirror - An Experience with Completed Adoptions," The S o c i a l Worker, June 1959. Michaels, Ruth, "Special Problems i n Casework with Adoptive Parents," S o c i a l Casework, January 1952. P o l i c y Manual, Children's Aid Society of Vancouver, 1956. Schechter, Marshall, "Observations of Adopted Children," American Medical Association Archives of General Psychiatry, J u l y I960. Schrager, Ju l e s , "After Adoption - An Agency-Sponsored Program," Children, July-August 1957. Shapiro, Michael, "A Study of Adoption P r a c t i c e , " C h i l d Welfare  League of America, Volume I , A p r i l 1956. Taylor, Audrey Rothnie, Parental Information f o r the Adopted  C h i l d , Master of S o c i a l Work Thesis, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, 1957* Thunen, Margaret, "Group Meetings with Adoptive Parents During the Post-Placement Period," C h i l d Welfare, November 1958. 


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