October, 2009     Volume 5, Number 27

Fall has always been my favorite season, everything from the changing leaves to excellent biking, and that unmistakable sense of new beginnings and opportunities in the air.  As a displaced New Yorker living in Pennington NJ, I have to say biking is one of my favorite aspects of moving here. From our house we enjoy biking through woods to hidden streams and ponds, alongside a river to charming little towns, and past fields with horses. If you are coming to the Pennington IAC Center for a weekend session or a workshop, you may want to throw your bike on the car and have us direct you to a bike path along the Delaware River; or take some time on foot to explore Lambertville or Princeton, NJ or New Hope, PA.
One of my least favorite aspects of moving to NJ is that everything is either 20 minutes or an hour or more away. I actually felt sorry for clients traveling to the Pennington IAC Center and extended the traditional 45 minutes session to one hour out here!  Also in response to this, I have opened conveniently located IAC Center offices in Montclair, Red Bank, Summit, Princeton and Pennington, NJ; and New York City. Check out the map for our new locations where counseling, groups and some workshops will be offered this year.
New is exciting, yet can also stir up many other complex feelings.  IAC Center clients who are beginning infertility treatment, donor reproductive options or the adoption process; embarking on new parenting; or entering new stages of their child's development or their own lives, all seem to have certain feelings in common. Typically, along with excitement and hope, they express anxiety, uncertainty, a wish to learn and at times a sense of isolation or a feeling of being out of control.
My favorite client statement this month (ok, I don't have one every month) was made by a man who clearly loves his wife. He said to her in a discussion about family building options, "Hope is not a plan." He is right and yet hope is often where real planning begins.
How do you move yourself from hope, especially when it follows loss or disappointment, toward new dreams?  How do you get to a place where you can create a proactive plan that will work and that you will be really happy with?  Whether you are dealing with family building or family issues, we have found that these are the 3 most frequently helpful steps for creating or dealing with change:
  • Get connected with what you feel. Process your emotions and if applicable, other family members feelings too.
  • Understand the essential issues, both your immediate needs and the long term considerations.
  • Learn what you need to know to deal with new challenges and to make a proactive plan that will work.  
The IAC Center model has successfully combined counseling; support groups and psycho-education to help our clients navigate these life changes, hurdles or opportunities, depending on how you look them.
Probably the most important ingredient is to give yourself some time to let your thoughts and feelings simmer, to see if new ideas occur to you or come together in your mind; or particular feelings or needs persistently rise to the surface.  Wanting quick answers is understandable, especially if a problem has been bothering you for a long time or bothers you a lot. Processing takes time and getting started is actually moving forward.
Many people find that the only way to really move forward is to take one step at a time. And to simply trust that the first step will move you forward and that if you keep going one step at a time, you will get to a better place.
Yet first steps can be hard to figure out, are different for different people and may not always be what you expected them to be.
Here are some first steps you may want to consider, some obvious, some quirky, maybe one that will work for you:
  • Attending our Crossing the Bridge from Infertility to Adoption on October 17th at the Princeton Hyatt is a huge step toward understanding the adoption option and that "adoption is not just about getting a baby; it is about becoming an adoptive family for a lifetime".  Most attendees leave with a better understanding of both the adoption process and adoptive family issues. Please note that Grandparents-to-be are invited for free but must be registered; and 5 CE credits are available for social workers.
  • There is no reason for you to go it alone.  Join one of our many support groups for Infertility, Pre-Adoptive Parents, Adoptive Parents, Adopted Children and Teens or Professional Support.  Groups are being built in all of our locations. Contact JMantellMSW@iaccenter.com for more information or to sign up.
  • Take a step that isn't the typical first step.
    • For example, if you fear domestic adoption because you have to "market yourself to find a baby," our Profile Assistance program can help you to learn why the profile method is used; who your audience is and why this is not marketing to them; and how to develop a profile that will work.  Once you get over this hurdle, you can go back to go and pick an agency or an attorney which is the more typical first step, but everyone is different.
    • If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, options counseling is an obvious first step, yet some psycho-education about the life cycle issues in adoption for yourself and your child; and about open adoption could be your first step toward understanding if adoption is the right choice for you. 
  • New parents-to-be, will definitely want to take a baby care class to begin to feel like parents.
  • If your child is being teased or simply squirming in response to hearing adoption or race related comments, attend a one-day workshop - W.I.S.E. Up! For parents and children ages 6 to 11. This is a nationally recognized program developed by C.A.S.E. to help parents empower their children to handle comments and questions about adoption. We will offer this program in NYC and Monmouth County this year. While children's groups are more of an ongoing experience, this one shot event could stimulate a lot of communication.
  • If your teen or child is acting out, a traditional therapy may or may not help with emotional and behavioral issues, especially if there are underlying and unaddressed adoption issues motivating the difficult behavior.  Adoption savvy counseling or a teen's adoption group or a kid's group may help with identity, self-esteem and social issues.
  • A more general technique but a favorite of many trying to figure out their path is The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  This is a book I learned about when working with actors, but it is seriously applicable to anyone who wants to get in touch with their true wishes, dreams and needs. It is about moving past blockages and connecting and actualizing your goals. See this site to learn more about her process and to find her book: http://www.theartistsway.com/
  • Read a new book. See TAPESTRY PICKS or maybe the New York Times Best Seller list  or a quick article; below I picked a few including one very interesting NY Times article that discusses the nature nurture question, which is probably of interest to many of you.
  • Participate in the research request described below if this is applicable to your experience. Viewing your own experience as something that can help others may help you to feel good too.
  • Get a pet, or just visit IAC Center's therapy dog Tucker: He attends many sessions at the Pennington office and can be counted on to provide warmth, comfort and at times, comic relief.  He sincerely enjoys his work and has many appreciative fans. No treats required.  
  • Please keep in mind that escape and pleasure can be first steps too. Get on your bike, go for a run or a swim, or plan a trip. Just taking a break to clear your mind can be really good for starters.
IAC Center's goal is to meet the needs of individuals and families whose lives have been touched by infertility and adoption. 
We are here for you at all points in your journey,

IAC Center Director

Articles, Books and Videos
Upcoming IAC Center Workshops

These 5 workshops will be offered for continuing education credits for social workersWe are getting a lot of requests for a web training component and are looking into this, and will let you know if we can do this soon.
To sign up contact IAC Center at 609-737-8750 or follow the links above to locate registration links.
Research Request

This project looks very interesting and your contribution would be greatly appreciated. The researcher will present her results at IAC Center in the Spring.
A Request for Volunteers- to share your reflections on your experience with unsuccessful In Vitro Fertilization.  I am researching how infertility treatment changes peoples' ideas about themselves and about the life course. With your insight, this study will help others make sense of the IVF process as a part of their lives and explore how to make decisions in the pursuit of parenting.

If you have had at least one In Vitro Fertilization treatment, ended treatment 2 or more years ago, and have decided whether or not you will pursue another option or treatment...please consider being a part of this research! Your participation will involve two to three 60-minute interviews over a six-month period. Your anonymity & privacy are assured.
In the Spring, the research will be shared in a paper presentation, followed by an informal discussion with the audience. This event will be open to all who wish to attend.

For more information about this study, please contact me at kmaley@eden.rutgers.edu or call (614) 905-0504. Thank you!

Kate Maley, student, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University

Counseling offers a non-biased overview of family building options to facilitate individuals and couples in making timely decisions that are mindful of long term implications. Using a life-long short-term counseling model, counseling is available throughout the adoption life cycle for all adoption triad members.