January, 2010     Volume 6, Number 1
Hello and Happy New Year!
We had a great time at the IAC Center Holiday Party!  Lots of new babies and children, old and new connections being made.  Six years ago, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to create a sense of community for families formed through adoption and infertility.  Each year the holiday party reaffirms for me that this goal has been achieved and will continue to grow. And when Dianne Irving, a former pre-adopt group participant wrote to me right after New Year's to tell me "We spent the afternoon with our Adoption Group, great way to start the year off!!"  I knew that the vision I had for IAC Center had really been met!  
Dianne with her group at the IAC Center Party. They have made life-lasting connections for themselves and for their children.
As for this year's resolutions or goals, like you, I probably have too many!  Foremost is spending time with my family and then comes continuing to offer and develop programs to meet the needs of families formed through infertility and adoption. 
Each year IAC Center evolves and is able to improve services. I am especially grateful for the team of IAC Center Counselors  I have built and my assistant Emily Morgan; and happily reflect that another old resolution - to build a good team - has been fulfilled.  Maybe I'm more in the mode of recounting all I am grateful for than in making new resolutions but let me see what I can tell you about What's New at IAC Center for 2010: 
  1. Workshops keep improving:  For example, we've "married" 2 workshops as we realized that the WISE UP and the Transracial Adoptive Family Workshops really go quite well together for some families. This pairing actually fulfills a deeper need expressed by some participants at WISE Up workshops. If you have attended or plan to attend a W.I.S.E. Up! For parents and children ages 6 to 11 - currently being offered in both in Colt's Neck and in NYC, , I would like to gift you a 10% discount on the Transracial Adoptive Family Issues Workshop; and if you are not in a transracial adoptive family, we will extend this 10% discount to another workshop of your choice. 
WISE Up successfully fills up your own and your child's toolkit with ways to deal with adoption related questions and awkward social situations; but many families have commented that the questions related to race are especially difficult for their children and for them. These parents are concerned about the impact of these issues on their child's self esteem and sense of identity.  The Transracial Adoptive Family Issues Workshop will help parents understand their children's feelings more deeply, improve communication and give them multiple ideas and tools for proactive parenting.  
    One of my rather sage clients - a twelve-year-old adopted from Guatemala - feels her teacher is racist and while she feels well-supported by her parents, she states that since they are Caucasian they "probably don't know how it feels to be treated in a racist manner." She reports feeling hurt when people "think I don't understand English or I'm not as smart as they are." And upon exploration, she reports feeling "high in status" in most areas but "lower in status" when treated in a racist manner.  Her parents are quite savvy and well able to verbally validate her feelings, but she especially appreciates that they have arranged an ongoing relationship for her with a sitter of some Hispanic heritage, which helps her to feel understood and to learn ways to cope "that work".  The Transracial Adoptive Family Issues workshop will address a variety of ways parents and professionals can help these young adoptees to build self-esteem and a positive sense of their own identities. 
  1. More Locations for IAC Center currently with offices in Pennington, Princeton, Red Bank, Summit and Montclair NJ; & in NYC, and more to come.

  1. Our first nationally available program: We launched our brand new Profile Assistance Program. Now that we have helped a number of IAC Center families to create successful profiles, we are expanding this program and offering it to pre-adoptive parents all over the country. We are doing this as a business but also because we believe in the life cycle view of adoption.
    When profiles are viewed simply as marketing tools, this turns making adoption connections into something like a business transaction. Instead, our unique process not only helps pre-adoptive parents to create excellent profiles, but the method we have developed also teaches them how to communicate with expectant women and couples so that they can make real connections* and create adoption plans that work not just for now, but for the long haul. By real connections* I am referring to the use of the real self to connect at whatever level of openness one is comfortable with because that is what being real is about. I am not substituting the word real for open since everyone feels differently about openness. Combining IAC Center's experience with internet services like email and Skype this program should work very well. 
  1. Offering CE Credits for Social Workers attending most of our workshops.  In addition to reaching professionals who specialize in infertility and adoption, we hope to reach social workers and other professionals whose academic training did not include these topics. Unfortunately this is actually the case for most mental health and educational professionals. With this in mind, we hope you will share these workshop opportunities with professionals who may benefit.  In this way you can contribute to literally "Wising Up" the world about infertility and adoption.
  2. More directly, we will be seeking your opinion. I would like to encourage more dialogue between the readers of this newsletter and our IAC Center staff.  Your responses will help us to understand our work better, and where we are succeeding and where we could do better. 
    For starters I would like to pose a question and get your responses: How do you feel when a Counselor disclosures their personal relationship to infertility or adoption? Has this been helpful or possibly inhibiting to you? Can you give examples of what was revealed to you and how that impacted you in your counseling and/or in your life? And if you are a Counselor I would like to hear your examples and thoughts on this topic as well.  All responses will be held confidential.  Please send replies to me at: JMantellMSW@iaccenter.com 
    In supervising IAC Center Counselors this topic has come up and led to some lively discussions. On February 3, 2010 I will be facilitating a workshop on "Use of Self: Identification and Personal Disclosure When Working with Adoptive Families" at  The Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA in New York For additional information or to register, go to: www.jccany.org/ametztraining.  In preparation I welcome all thoughts on this topic.
    Obviously not all Counselors have a personal connection to infertility or adoption and in my experience supervising counselors, it is certainly not essential. Good counseling is typically based on excellent listening skills; a well developed set of clinical tools; and a very solid theoretical understanding of the psychodynamics in individuals and families. In the case of infertility and adoption, specialized education in these areas is essential as well.  Sometimes a counselor's personal experiences are helpful and at other times these same experiences may cloud their thinking or interfere with their sensitivity. This is a serious topic and your contribution will be greatly appreciated. Please write me. 
  1. Last here, meet Rosie, our newest addition and another Therapy Dog at IAC Center who can't wait to meet you!  She is little but she loves treats, is a lap dog and her favorite website is: http://www.deservingpets.com/ Check it out!
Articles related to transracial family adoption:
  1. White Skin on My Hands  by one of the speakers for the Transracial Adoptive Family Workshop
  2. Personal Identity:  A Core Issue in Identity - Jeremy Robbi, M.A., another speaker for the Transracial Adoptive Family Workshop
  3. Becoming a "Public Family" - Jane Cramer, MSW, IAC Center Counselor
Winter Workshops and some Spring highlights 
  1. Transracial Adoptive Family Issues - January 24, 2010 in Pennington NJ. 3 CE credits for social workers.
  2. W.I.S.E. Up! For parents and children ages 6 to 11 - February 21, 2010 in Colt's Neck and March 7, 2010 in NYC
  3. Parenting the Older Adopted Child - March 20, 2010 in Montclair, NJ- 5 CE credits for social workers
  4. Baby Care for Adoptive Parents - April 10, 2010 in Pennington, NJ
  5. Family Stories: Creating and Parenting Children through Adoption and Donor Origins - May 1, 2010 in Montclair, NJ - 6 CE credits for social workers.
NEW Groups are always forming:    
  1. Pre-Adoptive Parents groups in Pennington, Summit, Red Bank and Montclair NJ; and NYC. 
  2. Adopted Children and Teens, and Parents of Teens groups in Pennington NJ, and in Montclair NJ and NYC soon.
  3. NEW Lifebook group -Pennington, NJ  - Once a month opportunity to finally do that Lifebook!
  4. NEW Infertility group- Pennington, NJ    

To sign up Contact:
info@iaccenter.com, call 609-737-8750 or use the links provided here for full workshops descriptions and registration. See IAC Center Calendar for: Other workshops, Group with Openings and FYI Special Events.
We are here for you at all points along the way in your journey, 

IAC Center Director
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.