Newsletter: Ides of March
(Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training)

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Adults can teach kids critical skills for coping with online aggression

Spring Screening:
as part of the Women Take the Reel Film Festival, Northeastern University
March 12, 2014

What kind of Asian are you?
What kind of Asian are you?

Place scraps of yarn in your yard for birds to use to make colorful springtime nests!


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Hello Friends and Families:

Daylight Savings has been done... we now have a tiny bit more light at the end of each day.  Spring can't be too far behind.




Special thanks to the Bay and Paul Foundation and to Fred Bay for supporting the work we do in education and the writing that is made possible by their grant!





What's been going on here?


  • Families and kids are getting some coaching and are communicating better with each other and themselves. 
  • Families in divorce are understanding that an adopted child has already experienced one divorce-like feeling when he/she lost his/her first family (or second, or third), and so divorce triggers some fears that may not relate to the present state of things.
  • Adults need to put their own egos aside and get their own help, while they try to understand the fears and challenges for the children.
  • Families with young adults who are still, or even "just", in pain as they figure out who they are and who they are not in this mysterious world of adoption.  It is normal under the circumstances to be struggling with what to do next.
  • We had two lovely reunions in the past few weeks - very moving and exciting as all parties worked together to hold on to their own anxieties and make room for the "child" to have her/his questions answered and to find out what is "real" in a world that often feels unreal to the adopted person.
  • Middle schoolers dealing with feeling in and feeling out both at school and at home.
  • The complexity of having children by birth and children by adoption and how each feels that the parents place too much emphasis on the other.
  • Young adult Korean adopteds wanting to go back to Korea over and over. Wanting to translate themselves back into who they were and who they might have been.  Some need to do it more often than others.  Some can afford to do it more often than others.
  • Children in residential treatment thinking they must be crazy and wondering if it was because of their early trauma, the lack of understanding by professionals in their lives, and/or their inability to self-regulate because no one taught them as an infant/baby.
  • Grandparents involved in custody situations and negotiating how to honor them as grandparents but remind them that they are NOT the parents.
  • New York Course is going extremely well.  Members are eager to learn.  Consults each week and teaching about the course content in relation to the cases.  Format seems to work very well.
  • Boston Course is great, too.  Excellent folks with differing perspectives, but bringing together expertise and helping each other to grow.  Consultation method is good for them, as well.
  • Taught the wonderful Professor Tom Cottle's "Children at Risk" class - always a fabulous group and he is such a gem of a teacher.  Had a lovely dinner with him and his wife after.
  • Did a day-long training with Lexington Montessori staff:  excellent and eager learners who took everything in and will be more aware of the needs of their adopted students


Thanks to Mary Limerick and Caitlin FitzGerald for orienting my new assistant, Emily Adcox - who is doing so fabulous a job that it feels like she has been here forever rather than one short month!!  Thanks to the 'team'.






Coming up for me in the near future:

  • Taxes (yuck)
  • Cataract Surgery (can't wait to seeeee again)
  • FRUA training for parents of children from Russia
  • Expert witnessing on a child custody case later this month
  • Late March - Alliance for Study of Adoption and Culture Conference in Tallahassee
  • Mid April - American Adoption Congress Conference in San Francisco
  • Late May - St. Johns University Adoption Conference in New York/Queens Campus
  • ARC - 28th Annual ARC Summer Intensives in Provincetown, Cape Cod, July 7-8 (see details below)


PACT & ARC Announce the 28th Annual ARCeology Summer Intensives


28th ARC Summer Intensives:
Adoption on the Edge
July 7-8, 2014


The ARC Summer Intensives Conference is a two-day event for professionals, parents (birth, adoptive, foster, etc), adult adopted people, and extended family.  This year, we will look at the aspects of adoption conversation that have built a "story" over time for the individuals and for the entire system of adoption through some certain heroism and hard work.  


As ever, we will use narrative therapy, digital stories, performance, and movies to discuss the many emotional and psychological elements that can make adoption a challenge and a joy for all involved.


The Intensives (so called because we work hard all day in a gentle setting) are jointly presented by the Adoption Resource Center (ARC) and Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training (PACT), with the support of the Bay-Paul Foundation (for financial and moral support) and Riverside Community Care.  We thank them for their support of this annual conference!


Click Here for Full Brochure 


For more information,

email [email protected] or call (617) 547-0909



Register by completing the Registration panel of the brochure and mailing or faxing along with payment to PACT/PCC
Register by completing the online registration form and either mailing a check to PACT/PCC or providing credit card information over the phone. 






July 7-8, 2014

At the Provincetown Inn

Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA


Do you have a business or would you yourself like to sponsor an amazing conference in Provincetown in July 2014?  


If you or someone close to you is adopted or a member of any form of complex blended family, you can make a difference by helping to sponsor the ARC conference and expanding the understanding of professionals and those who live in the world of adoption.


The conference brochure is available here, or you can request a hardcopy by emailing [email protected].


Please help us to produce this amazing Families of Adoption Conference.  You can help to educate and enlighten, thereby lightening the lives of many!


Click Here for ARC Program Ad Order Form (deadline extended!)


Contact us at [email protected]

220 Concord Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138




Call for Survey Participants:
Hello! My name is Candice Presseau, and I am graduate student in the College of Education at Lehigh University. I am currently completing my doctoral dissertation research study under the supervision of my dissertation co-chairs, Dr. Cirleen DeBlaere and Dr. Arpana Inman, and am interested in studying the life experiences and well-being of racial minority individuals who have been transracially adopted by White parents or a White single parent. It is our hope that with this study, we can contribute to the understanding of the experiences of adopted persons raised by parents with different racial backgrounds and experiences from their own. 

Your participation is essential to achieving this goal, so we hope that you will take part in our study. In order to participate, you must identify as a member of racial minority group, have been transracially adopted by White parents or single White parent, currently live in North America, and be 18 years of age or older. If you would like to participate in our study, please click on the link below and you will be directed to the online survey:

Thank you very much in advance for your time! Please feel free to pass on this link to other people who might be eligible. If you have any question about this study, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. This research has been approved by the Lehigh University Institutional Review Board (IRB# 397756-2). 

Candice Presseau, M.A.



Huffington Post Article:



Many of us have personal, political, and professional connections to adoption, and I, for one, believe that every adoption should be done legally and very ethically and that it should be about finding families for children and not about finding children for families.


We have seen too many searches and reunions end up with stories of stolen children, child trafficking, bad practice, and the business of adoption becoming more and more important than the business of child welfare.


Beware this CHIFF legislation; I am wondering why Sen. Elizabeth Warren - and some others - would be for something that the State Department and people knowledgeable in adoption do not support. Worrisome.

Dr. Joyce Pavao calls Single Adoptive Parents: Our Stories, a major resource. The book relates the joys as well as the challenges of single parent adoption. In addition, it includes stories and quotes from adult children raised by single adoptive parents.

I think that birthparents and adoptive parents should definitely do this, as at many of the reunions I've facilitated over the years, birth and adoptive parents have both sent letters, pictures, and gifts via an agency and/or intermediary, and many of those communications were never exchanged.  This failed contact makes the intended recipient think that their agreement was not taken seriously, when in reality neither party fell short.  All of this just ends up hurting the person whom they both love - the adopted one.

Other thoughts...


Adopted people, and often birth parents and adoptive parents too, have suffered trauma, which can add to the challenges they face.


Adoption contains the component parts intrinsic to trauma as they are understood in the relational canon: devastating and sometimes ambiguous loss; overwhelming powerlessness; a mourning process that is difficult if not impossible to complete; tremendous potential for dissociation in the face of pain and failures of empathy; and feelings of otherness that challenge one's participation in what we assume as normal life. 


When adoptive parents are confronted with infertility, suddenly a life choice is no longer a choice.  How does infertility impact adoptive parenting?


Regarding the adopted child - especially when traumatized further by institutional care or perfunctory care - Winnicott said: "The baby mothers himself by understanding, understanding too much, thereby causing a dissociation from felt needs and empathic failures of his caretakers. This use of the mind creates a precocity in which a false self-sufficiency serves to mask dissociated dependency and rage" (Winnicott, 1965).


So we might rethink Reactive Attachment and look at it more as a problematic dance of the child with one or more caregivers. Let's not blame the victim, but rather help all of the actors in the dance.

-- "I believe the only true way to guarantee that children are where they are supposed to be is by doing open adoptions both internationally and domestically. Mediation and education should be done, and clear understanding by sending and receiving parents and countries/states so that ALL adoptions are ethical, legal and in the very best interest of each and every child." Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao


Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training
220 Concord Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-0909
617-547-0909 [email protected]