December 2013
Happy Holidays from PACT (Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training)!

Holiday Madness abounds!

As you all know, better than anyone, holidays are family times and in some instances that is fun and great and a time to connect and celebrate, and for some it is filled with difficulty and pain and loss.   Remember that for children, who have lost and lost and lost family after family, and placement after placement, the holidays may be extremely stressful, and it may be a time of triggers and behavioral escapades that don't seem at all right. 


Try to keep in mind not what you are currently doing to make their lives wonderful, but the past that creeps up and resides in their minds as they wander through some painful memories.


We are busy here at PACT (and Riverside AACT)!


  • We have been helping families to sort out custody arrangements that are less about the needs of the adults, and more about the needs of the children. 
  • We are dealing with increasing numbers of issues with families with donor children.  These parents are eager to say the right things and to be supportive if their adult and sometimes adolescent children are in the process of searching for siblings and other birth relatives.  The old issues of adoption are now part of the new issues of Reproductive Technologies.
  • We are helping families and schools to understand some of the hot points for children in adoption with certain assignments and with friends who don't 'get' adoption.
  • We are helping teens who are depressed and confused about identity issues and who can't see beyond to what will become of them.
  • We are helping families with international adoptions to understand the fact that kids are resilient and learn language quickly, but do not comprehend and sometimes mistake what people are saying and doing.
  • We are assessing families and children and helping them to find adoption competent therapists closer to home.
  • We are doing a number of conference calls and Google visits with families and adult adopted people across the country as well as in the UK, Italy and China.
  • We are helping couples (and individuals) to negotiate decisions around how to form their families

We are hoping to get the Boston and NYC training programs off the ground in January, but we still need more attendees to make it cost effective.


We are doing supervision for LMFT, MSW, LMHC and other therapists.


We are doing coaching for professionals and for parents.




These are just some of the things that come up in our day-to-day work at PACT and PCC.


At Riverside AACT, we are working closely with Riverside to train and consult on adoption cases to various teams in Cambridge, Somerville, Needham and Dedham.  We are working with DMH in Westboro and in Boston and Newton and are doing monthly consultations on some of their cases.  Materials are being developed to help practitioners to help families in adoption. We are also doing monthly consultations with DCF Lawrence on adoption-related cases.




For your reading (and listening!) pleasure...

The Final Page of the latest issue of Irish America magazine features an article about the work that Dr. Valerie O'Brien and I are undertaking:


 The Last Word: Irish-American Adoptions


By Dr. Valerie O'Brien and Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao December / January 2014




Is it time to have a gathering? Philomena shines a light on an aspect of Irish in need of urgent attention.


The movie Philomena, based on Philomena Lee's real-life search for her son who was adopted by an American family, highlights the issue of the many clandestine adoptions of Irish children by U.S. families, and the complicity of religious orders and government and church hierarchy in those unethical and often illegal adoptions.


The stories of these children have been both 'known' and 'unknown' in Ireland, where for generations communities turned a blind eye to the goings-on.


Previous to Philomena (based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith), Mike Milotte's 1997 book Banished Babies caused an uproar with his claim that at least 2,400 Irish children were adopted by U.S. families in the period from early 1940's to early 1970's. Many of those children are now in their 50s and 60s, and time is running out for their birth mothers who are now elderly. (Philomena Lee just turned 80.)


We know that many of the adopted people have been searching for their Irish families and likewise, mothers have been searching for their children. We know too, as in Philomena's case, that often times their entreaties for information have been met with silence...





Actress Judi Dench with Philomena Lee. 



I recommend this book for yourself or a gift for a loved one this holiday season:




Perpetual Child: Adult Adoptee Anthology: Dismantling the Stereotype  



Print version available on Amazon for $13, e-version for $5.99. Both rated among top ten best sellers on adoption within a week!



Also, you can preview Alison Larkin's "The DNA Song" on  Soundcloud, and then download the audiobook for free on



The DNA Song grew out of the huge response Larkin had to her bestselling novel The English American (Simon and Schuster 2008) from adoptees and people born through anonymous sperm and egg donation who long to know the truth about their origins.






2014 Adoption Training Courses...


We are hoping to get our 2014 courses up and running.  Please send the following links to professionals and parents in Boston and NYC.



PACT (Pre/post Adoption Consulting and Training)

 and Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao present 




The Boston/New York Post Adoption Competency Training

For Clinicians and other Adoption Related Professionals



Using lecture, videos, classroom discussion, panel presentations, and consultations, this eight-month program is designed to help therapists develop the clinical sensitivity, and more important, competency needed to treat the mental health problems of children who come from a background of abuse and neglect and who are being raised in a family other than the birth family. The course emphasizes the development of a framework of understanding about the complexity of being a child or adult in a family by adoption and the therapeutic skills that will enable practitioners to work at the individual, couples, group, and family levels of clinical practice. Woven into each class is the impact that trauma, separation and loss-- as well as multiple moves --can have on children's development and wellbeing.



Advanced Consultation/Supervision Course in 

Adoption and Complex Blended Families



Consultation, Supervision and Training for mental health professionals, in specialized theories and practices for working with all members of the adoptive triad, including birth mothers and fathers; adoptive mothers and fathers; and the adopted persons. The continuum of care from foster care (or orphanage) to kinship, guardianship or adoption is an important foundation of understanding necessary to be competent in working with families and children in the world of adoption. All of these family constructions will be discussed and included in the program. 

For more information about either program, please email or call 617-547-0909.








Dates scheduled: 

January 10, February 28, March 21, April 25

Fridays from 9:00 to 2:00 

Consultation/Supervision course from 2:30-5


Link here for full course info

Click here to register online



 Link here for Consultation/Supervision course info

Click here to register online








Dates scheduled:

January 19, 2013

February 8, March 8, and April 5, 2014

Saturdays from 9:00 to 2:00 

Consultation/Supervision course from 2:30 to 5



Link here for full course info

Click here to register online



Link here for Consultation/Supervision course info

Click here to register online





Around the web...




I thought you might like the following articles:


Ethiopian girl lands in Maine after long, sad journey of adoption

Tarikuwa Lemma was affected by corrupt adoption system in Ethiopia, separated from her family before making a life for herself in Maine...



Overseas adoptions rise -- for black American children 



  Seventy Dutch families who adopted U.S. kids gather for an annual Fathers Day picnic in June





Many businesses use this clip to assist staff with Change Management but I think it is great for children: 


1. Experiences Build Brain Architecture
1. Experiences Build Brain Architecture






The Academy in Newton currently has openings in a variety of ages in their activity based social skills group program. If you have specific questions about this or families who may be interested, please contact  Jessica Capone at 617-969-2200 x15 







Helping a student...


An undergraduate working on her Honors Thesis at Texas Christian University is running an online survey to collect data with the goal of examining how individuals communicate and maintain their relationships in both adoptive and non-adoptive families. Below is a little more information about the survey, as well as the link to it:

If you are at least 18 years old, would you mind taking approximately 10-15 minutes to complete this online survey? Both adopted and non-adopted individuals are welcome to participate. All participation is completely voluntary and anonymous, and additional details about the study (including informed consent and online survey) can be found by clicking on this link:

Please feel free to share this link with others who might be interested in participating as well.  If you have questions regarding this study, contact information is available by clicking the link above. Thank you so much for considering contributing to this important project!  






We wish you the very best and most peaceful holiday season and a very healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.




Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao




Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training

Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao

220 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138  617 547 0909