August Newsletter

(Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training)

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2014-2015 Adoption Competency Program

Clinical Consultation Program

by Joyce Maguire Pavao

Survey for MA families who adopted children since 2010

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Greetings and Salutations:

Usually an August newsletter would be laid back and wending its way toward the end of summer.



Alas, the world is in such turmoil and people are in such pain and this all impacts, more than you can know, the world of adoption and the lives of those touched by adoption.


Internationally born and adopted children/adults are watching the world and the way its inhabitants are treated or maltreated - in Africa, the Middle East etc.  They see what is happening with Ebola and with children taken and trafficked.  They see the blatant racism in Missouri and in the wider US with regard to a lack of respect for a President who is African American.  How does that feel to transracially adopted African American children and to their families by birth and by adoption?  So much is wrong with the world right now, and if you think it doesn't impact young and older adopted people, you are wrong. 


It is hard enough this time of year for parents raising adopted children.  Transitions are always hard, and the end of summer and return to school - new schools or old schools with new classrooms and teachers - causes unrest and stress.  It's a little bit that way for anyone, but it is especially difficult for adopted ones who have had early losses and moves and changes.




Here at PACT we have had a lot going on this summer.


You heard about our conference, which was a success and helped to bring out dialog in the adoption community.


I went to a wonderful Adoption Workgroup Meeting in Essex where we discussed the issues of CHIFF and the lack of true understanding of people who support the bill without grasping what it really means.


These past few weeks, we have been immersed in reconnecting families - many adoptive families that met the birth parent at the time of placement and, now that their children are 12 to 20, they are working to reconnect and open these adoptions.  We have so many of these cases that we are trying to find an evening for a dual workshop with the parents and the kids/young adults.

Deirdre Jimenez has started her internship and is doing great work here at PACT.  Emily is guiding her well.

Our consultations at DMH continue to be complicated and wonderful.  This month, we have been at many residential centers working with the staff, the families and kids, along with the DMH workers.  Very wonderful families.


Expert witness cases abound: making recommendations for permanency in divorce and in adoption cases.


We are doing more and more phone, Skype, and Google Hangout sessions to serve people who are far away.


Regular consultations continue with adoption agencies monthly, by Skype, meeting with staff and their clients about kinship and adoption cases.


This weekend, I am off to Western Massachusetts to train the volunteers at Camp To Belong/Sibling Connections, working with Kelley Flynn Lane to give the volunteers some ideas and framework for their amazing week at camp.  These children do not get to live with their siblings.  Some are adopted, some are with birthparents, some are in foster care - but all miss their siblings and have this chance once a year to hang out at camp, to have sleepovers, to play, eat, and talk together and to rekindle their feeling of family even though they have many other families and live apart.  This program is amazing.  I wonder what it would have been like if I had had the chance to know my six brothers and my sister growing up.  I met them in early adulthood and have known them for over forty years, but I miss not knowing them as children.  I'm happy to help out with camp this way.  To donate to the great work at Camp To Belong, contact [email protected]  Also contact if you want information about sending your child and his/her siblings next summer!!!





We are now offering more services here at 220 Concord Avenue:


As a part of consultations, our intern, Deirdre Jimenez will be doing six-session evaluations for children and teens.  Deirdre has years of experience at McLean Hospital and is seasoned in her work with children and DBT.  She is bilingual and uses play therapy as part of her assessment.  This will be a wonderful addition.


Jennifer Malloy is hoping to join Deirdre in running a group or two for teens.


Wendy Schmidt is working with families with extreme behavioral issues.  She is participating with me in certain consultations and then doing in-home work with families to restructure and stabilize.


We are still doing assessments and making referrals to our wide network of seasoned therapists with adoption competency who trained under my tutelage at CFFC and who are now in practice elsewhere.



It was about thirty years ago that I started offering "Fifty Thousand Mile Check Ups" to families and individuals.  If you haven't had a "well visit" and a check up for you and/or your family, please call and make an appointment today.  This can be done live, by conference call, by Skype or Google Hangouts.  Contact [email protected]


We need your support here at PACT.  Often people who hold Federal Grants have funds left at the end of the fiscal year and have to spend it or lose it.  If your agency has funding and is trying to think of ways to spend, please consider having me do a training and/or consultation for you.  We are trying to make up for lost funds over the summer when families and kids are at camp and on vacation.  Be in touch with [email protected] to schedule. 




Register now and spread the word about the upcoming PACT training programs!  Share this link, and see details below:



2014-2015 Training Programs




Certificate Program in Adoption Competency

For therapists and other professionals working with complex blended families

Using lecture, videos, classroom discussion, and consultations, this seven-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.


Cambridge Location: Class meets 9am-1pm one Friday per month, October 2014 - April 2015 

Click Here for full course outline.    Register online


New York City Location: Class meets 9am-1pm one Saturday per month, October 2014 - April 2015

Click Here for full course outline.    Register online




Advanced Clinical Consultation/Supervision Program

For therapists and other professionals working with complex blended families

This program offers consultation, supervision and training for mental health professionals in specialized theories and practices for working with all members of the adoptive triad, including birthparents, adoptive parents, and the adopted persons.  The primary objective of this consultation/supervision program is to allow therapists who have taken the courses in adoption therapy and have a clear understanding of the many dimensions of systemic view one must have to work with the entire constellation of adoption to apply, develop, and explore their clinical knowledge. 


Cambridge Location: Class meets 2pm-4pm one Friday per month, October 2014 - April 2015

Click Here for full program outline.    Register online


New York City Location: Class meets 2pm-4pm one Saturday per month, October 2014 - April 2015

Click Here for full program outline.    Register online


What if...? All the children

by Joyce Maguire Pavao


What if we filed the federal and Arizona equivalent of a Massachusetts 51A on the government for abuse and neglect of those children who are piled up in warehouses for what seems like months now?


What if we then did as we do when children are removed for abuse and neglect-place them in fostering homes while we seek their kin for evaluation and placement?


What if we treated all children as if they were our own, and didn't try to tear them away from their families and country when that is not what is needed or wanted?


What if we carefully determined which children really are truly "orphans", and which have been trafficked or traded for the monetary benefit of someone?


What if we respected those parents who feel their children are truly better off not in the unsafe situations that surround them, and carefully and painfully choose to send them across borders or across families and countries in their very best interest?


What if we made all adoptions open enough to be sure that they are ethical and legal and in the very best interest of the child who will eventually be an adult and who is watching you and will know everything that was done to him/her in the process of changing families?


What if we allocated funds to all children so that between 0 and 5 no matter where they live or what their status they would have full day daycare in a safe and wonderful space with meals and medical care available so that parents who want to or, especially, who have to work, know that these children's brains- which are at their most elastic-will take in what is needed to grow into wonderful, bright, compassionate people and citizens?


We spend much more pathologizing and demeaning children than we do building them up.


What if we looked in the mirror and saw ourselves in a better light and doing the right thing?


What if we treated all children as if they were our own?


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao

August 2014

I love the idea that Mary Gauthier and I might do a workshop together and that I might take a songwriting course with her sometime next year!


"I have been teaching songwriting in Calgary all week.  My students here are earnest, a little older, and great listeners.  That makes it enjoyable for me.  I teach them that the songs are coming to them for a reason.  And the reason is that their souls are trying to help them heal.  Almost always from trauma.  Usually, from childhood trauma.  I teach them that as they heal, they help the world heal.  Songs are like white blood cells, coagulants....for the heart/soul.  The students find this theory frightening at first.  Then it grows on them.  They don't want to admit to their trauma, they come in hiding it with all of their might.  And usually, hiding it in their writing, from themselves.  But I tell them that songs come to a songwriter to help heal emotional blows so low that their frequencies reverberate in a body and soul for a lifetime.  Songs are not products for a market place.  They are spiritual medicine for a world gone wrong.  They help re-set the balance, in the direction of truth, connection, freedom.  At least that's my theory.  All other reasons for writing that I come up are not as good as this one.  So I teach this.  We heal when we connect with each other.  As artists, we can learn to connect through our art.  To ourself, then to each other.  The vast majority of my students are disconnected from themselves in some ways.  So I become an arm chair therapist, I try to get them to speak/sing of their deeper truths.  I try take them down the road to their own voice, the voice they are most terrified of.  When they land there, on the sound of their own voice, they often weep.  Those are the moments I live for as a teacher.  Once a writer finds their voice, they can't forget that it exists.  I hope my students will go out into the word and use that voice.  It's their decision, but if I do my job, they are now aware that they are making a decision, to use, or not use their own voice.  This is what I do my best to teach."


-Mary Gauthier





It seems, as I turn 68 this August, that all of the work we did in the 60s and 70s is falling by the wayside.  What happened to Social Justice?


Maybe it's time to wake up and pull the Wizard's curtain back.  Maybe it's time to acknowledge what is wrong and make real attempts to fix it.




What is it that I don't understand...


Awful things happen, and they should be responded to, grieved for, and worked at to get folks back to emotional safety as soon as possible - which is always recommended post trauma.


  • Why can't Catholic priests be contrite and say how horrid the abuse has been and how much they abhor those acts of violence against children?
  • Why can't Ferguson, Mo. Police immediately arrest Darren Wilson for murder of Michael Brown and give him a trial - probably with change of venue. Get that community back to grieving and then living?
  • Why can't Social Services remove all those poor children warehoused for months at the border, and place them in states' custody with families, to normalize their lives while decisions are being made?
  • Why can't the Market Basket Board uphold their fiduciary responsibility and stop with the family politics?
  • Why can't people respect the Office of President even if they do not agree with certain actions, and even if they are totally and completely racist?


The list goes on...


Joyce Maguire Pavao

August 18, 2014



In other news...



This story shows us how people are mistreating, not treating, adopted and fostered children:

Oregon psychologist suspended after odd baby bottle advice


Another reason to take extra care of the little ones who end up in adoption and foster care:

Stress tied to change in children's gene expression related to emotion regulation, physical health

The situation in Missouri situation makes us think about racism a bit more:


On his blog, Scott Woods Makes Lists, poet Scott Woods posted:

"The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people's expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn't care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it's still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don't look like you.


"Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another.  Access is another.  Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on.  So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we're immediately born into. It's like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.


"It's not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It's a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it's hard work, but it's the price you pay for owning everything." 



In "Correcting the Balance," an interview with Nalo Hopkinson (The Chaos) by editor Terry Bissonan, the Jamaican-born author said:

"There are a lot of readers who pride themselves on not paying attention to the identities of their favorite writers. Some of them think this means they're not prejudiced. I don't know anyone who isn't, myself included. But let's say for argument's sake that those particular readers in fact are not prejudiced.


"How many books by writers of color do you think you'll find on their bookshelves? I'd lay odds that if there are any at all, they will be far outnumbered by the books by white authors. Not necessarily because those readers are deliberately choosing mostly white/male authors. They don't have to. The status quo does it for them.


"So those readers' self-satisfied 'I don't know' is really an 'I don't care enough to look beyond my nose.' And that's cool. So many causes, so little time. But don't pretend that indifference and an unwillingness to make positive change constitute enlightenment."





We are still renting out Mondays at 220 Concord.  Close to Hi Rise Bakery and at a bus stop.  A lovely setting for clients!!     



Cambridge Therapy Office Space for Rent

For Adoption-Competent Therapist or for use as a Writer's Room


220 Concord Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

On the bus line, and a brisk walk from Porter or Harvard Squares


The space has a shared bathroom, a full kitchen for employees only (available when not in use for groups), and a small waiting area. 

The office is fully furnished. No phone and no other supplies/materials provided.  We do not provide any administrative, billing, or other services.


To be rented one day per week (Monday is available)

Available July 15, 2014

$375.00 per month, utilities included


Call or email to set up a visit and interview.

Executive Assistant, Emily Adcox: [email protected]


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao: [email protected]


An adopted person's birthday....


It is my birthday very soon.


I'm about to be 68 years old.

(Always surprising to be that old, what used to seem ancient to me when I was under 30.)


My birth wasn't a joyous event. 


I'm adopted, and we have a different relationship to birthdays than "normal" people.


Maybe my birthmother knew she was pregnant, but she told no one. 

The day of my birth, her little sister ran for help and was told that her sister had appendicitis.


I was the appendix on August 20, 1946.


From what I was told, my birthmother didn't get to hold me, but she saw me and she was watching as the social worker drove away with me on August 30, 1946 to deliver me to my eventual adoptive parents.


I wonder what my baby-self felt and thought about all of this. 

There was no joy, and loving surrounding by family, and celebration of birth for me -and there was no support or help for my mother.  Her mother, my grandmother, told her there was no way she could keep me and then she arranged for the adoption.


I was a good detective and I learned a lot about this event.  I had been a detective when I lived in the Virgin Islands and I put my skills to use.  I got all of the papers and learned that the birth father paid the hospital bills.  My grandmother didn't even want to see me.

My adoptive parents were told that I was a forceps delivery, and had a dent in my head, and if they didn't want me because of that "flaw" they could have another baby.  They said that was fine.  Can you imagine?


I'm told that a few weeks later an aunt by birth came forward and said she would take me, but social services said it was too late - I was with my new family.


But I wasn't legally theirs yet.


I was "parented" by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the next 12 months.  I was a lucky one since my parents were also my fostering parents for that period, but I was a ward of the state - I was a foster baby.


It wasn't until August 30, 1947 - one year later - that my birth mother signed the final papers that made me "free" for adoption and that were the "termination of parental rights" papers for my mother.  I can't say what that experience and that year was like for my mother.  I know she didn't get a lot of joy and support, and in those days people didn't talk very much about "issues" and so she probably had no counseling.


My life was fine.  My adoptive parents were lovely people and loving parents and typical of that era, so secrecy was abounding.


I didn't get to know about my siblings as they were born to my birthmother, and she had six boys and a girl after me.  I wonder how it was for her having my next brother and getting the joy and love that she so deserved as family and friends celebrated her and her new baby - what we in adoption call "the second first child" because the rest of the world sees it that way and the secret remains.


I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter and when she was born - how exciting it was, and how wonderful it was to share her baby self with all of her families and our friends.  She was celebrated and loved.


I wonder if my birthmother was afraid that her next baby would be taken away - irrational fears, but based on something quite real.  I wonder so many things that I never got to find out about on the occasions that we met and talked.


The point of all of this is that birthdays are not the same for people who are adopted.


My birthday has always been conflicted.


Having a summer birthday is an added burden.  No one was ever around.  My everyday friends were often away and often my family was away and I only had my summer friends at the Cape.  My daughter also has an August birthday, so I did half birthdays in February at her school and brought cupcakes.  I started having my own parties, and inviting family and friends to make the day less difficult -and it sort of worked some of the time, but it is still less a day of celebration, than a day of sadness and loss.


It's hard to celebrate a day of shame and secrecy for a child that belonged to no person for a year, but belonged to a "state".  

I'm okay, I deal with all of this and have awareness about it, but it isn't okay for a lot of adopted children, teens and adults.   Be careful of them, and watch and take cues about the birthday and what it might mean to them.  Be kind to the birthmothers as well. These are not celebrations for them, just as that day and the birth was not a wondrous and happy event as it should be for every mother and child.


I think maybe after this year I will ignore my birthday and celebrate something else some other time of the year.  I always say that as my birthday approaches.


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao

August 2014


Survey opportunity:


Massachusetts Survey of Time and Costs Involved in Adoption


We are conducting a survey of Massachusetts families who adopted children since 2010. You are invited to participate in this survey because you are an adoptive parent. If this mailing reached you in error, please accept our apologies and feel free to delete it or forward it to adoptive parents you know.


We are particularly interested in issues regarding the length of time it takes to adopt a child and the costs involved in adoption. Your responses will give us a more complete understanding of factors that present challenges in the adoption process. The information we compile will be useful in shaping adoption practices and policies in Massachusetts.


The survey will be used to inform the work of the Task Force on Adoption, created by Chapter 38 of the Acts of 2013 (Massachusetts Legislature), item 4800-0038. It is being administered through the Rudd Adoption Research Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has been approved by the UMass Amherst Institutional Review Board (# 2014-2143).


Your responses are anonymous; we do not ask for your name or identifying information. This survey should take approximately 20 - 30 minutes to complete. We know that you have many competing demands on your time, and so we greatly appreciate your willingness to take this survey.


If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Dr. Harold D. Grotevant at UMass Amherst ([email protected]). Thanks in advance for responding to this survey!


Please click the following link to begin. Because the survey is anonymous, you will not be able to exit and return to the survey at a later time.


At the end of the survey, you will be given an opportunity to provide your name and contact information in order to be notified about meetings where the results will be presented, speak with a member of the task force, or receive an electronic copy of the final report of the task force. We will not be able to link this contact information with your anonymous survey responses.



Dublin is working on his book this summer.  Hopefully he will finish it by his tenth birthday in February.  It's hard to type with those big feet.


"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
Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao
220 Concord Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-0909