November Newsletter

(Pre/Post Adoption Consulting and Training)

Quick Links!

Greetings and Salutations:

November is National Adoption Month.


The point of National Adoption Month has been different in each of the many years that it has existed.


National Adoption Month has been celebrated for 19 years.


It was first created by Governor Michael Dukakis, who designated a week in November for attention to children in foster care who needed permanency.


Later, President Ronald Reagan made this a federal month for adoption acknowledgement - again, to encourage foster care adoption and permanence for children in care.


National Adoption Month was then furthered on by President Bill Clinton.


It has always focused on the children in the foster care system, those that were not going to be returned to their birth parents, and those who would be better served in a permanent family than in a fostering family.


Somehow, over the years, folks have hijacked National Adoption Month for many aspects of the "business" of adoption.  I think Facebook has helped that happen.  I will get to that later.


This year's National Adoption Month initiative by the Federal Government and the Child Welfare League of America emphasizes the importance of sibling connections for the 102,000 children and youth in foster care in the United States who are waiting for adoptive families, who have siblings and a need to keep connected with these siblings even if they cannot be placed together.


An example of what happens in Child Welfare (dates are old because it takes time to calculate these things in all fifty states):

  • On September 30, 2012, there were an estimated 399,546 children in foster care
  • More than a quarter (28 percent) were in relative homes, (were placed with grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. while parents were dealing with challenges), and nearly half (47 percent) were in non-relative foster family homes
  • About half (53 percent) had a case goal of reunification with their families by birth.
  • About half (51 percent) of the children who left foster care in FY 2012 were discharged to be reunited with their parents or primary caretakers

It is the goal of child welfare agencies to return children to their parents by birth, or to a relative.  In the course of making this happen, it is often true that children are moved and moved and moved, losing trust and getting further away from permanency.  For many of these children, the permanency and safety of an adoptive family can be the best outcome, and if there is an open adoption with ongoing connection to birth family and especially to siblings, this can be a way for children to have both sets of resources in their lives.


There are so many perspectives, emotions, feelings, and thoughts about what National Adoption Month means.


Facebook brings the good, the bad, and the ugly out in full array.


I worry about some factions that would consider people like me "bad" because of who I associate with on Facebook.  I've learned to be tolerant and accepting of differences of opinion over the years, and I am clearly against certain things.  The adult adopted people are speaking out about feelings and experiences, as are birth parents and adoptive parents.


I have empathy for all.


I don't agree with all.


I realize we are all dealing with pain, loss, trauma, and longing.


People have said that I should not be involved with certain Facebook groups because "they are angry and will hurt people" - what people?


In the 70s, I was an adoption pioneer and a rebel.  I believed in access to original birth certificates, openness and transparency and honesty, and many folks thought that was "bad," and I was labeled "anti-adoption".


The truth is, I made the clinical and emotional issues of adoption my life's work.


I have helped thousands of families and trained thousands of professionals.


These new "rebels" are at one of the stages of grief that involves a waking up from what BJ Lifton called "the big sleep".  When they awake, they are hurt and angry.


This waking can happen slowly, but when they gain their voice, it is loud.


This is true of birth parents, as well, and of some adoptive parents.  Adoptive parents - not by their own choice - were treated differently than birth parents and adopted people; they were the "customers" or "consumers," birth parents were the "production department," and adopted people were the "product" - this is the "business" of adoption and it should never have been a business.  In Assisted Reproductive Technology, there are more in the production department: egg and sperm donors and surrogates.


I stand by my early beliefs.  I've worked with children and families for forty years.  There are some children who truly need consistent and permanent families other than birth family - there always were and always will be.


What has happened is, due to supply and demand in the "business" of adoption, children are cut from families, sometimes trafficked by criminals, and as time has gone on, I have realized that the only way to shift this is to be totally transparent, and to have all adoptions be mediated and open.


Transparency clears.


But I digress.


National Adoption Month.


There has been some regulation in child welfare (public adoptions) over the years, and more recently in international adoption, due to the Hague Convention.


There is nothing in private adoption and in ART.  No regulation at all.


My most famous quote is that "adoption should be about finding families for children, not about finding children for families."


My heart breaks for people in my own family and in my practice who cannot have children by birth, but if they are going to have children via others, it should be ethical, legal, and just.


The best way to assure transparency, to eschew trafficking and illegal business practices in adoption and ART, is to have direct meetings between birth families and adoptive families.  This is SO right, especially if the adoption isn't kept open and later the families reconnect.


Always make decisions knowing that the child is watching - he/she will see and hear all that is revealed at the beginning, middle, and end of an adoption.  The children will make judgments about, and feel the impact of, all of these adult decisions.  This will inform their feelings about their adoption and their thoughts about both birth and adoptive families.


I haven't lost track of National Adoption Month... I'm wending my way.


I think some people make the month about "celebrating" adoption.


I understand the feeling that adopting parents may have, and many adoptive parents understand the loss, trauma, trust issues experienced by adopted people and families by birth.


If adoptive parents can hold their own losses and realize that the worst thing is to try to erase what is real and true, then an adoption has a better chance of "seeing" and feeling all of the participants.


So should we celebrate the "gotcha day", when it is a mixed day for the adopted one?


There had to be a loss to have a gain.


Adopted people in Massachusetts born between 1973 and 2009 can have access to Original Birth Certificates but not those in between.   It is a civil right to have access to your first legal connection.


What about surrogates, egg and sperm donors?  All of those children are emotionally adopted, if not legally.  Shouldn't they have access to full disclosure of who contributed to their lives?


The issues are/will be the same.


Think about the kids.


Otherwise adoption is about adults and what they need and want.


The voice of children isn't heard.




What we need to reach for during the National Adoption Month is

  • access to original birth certificates in all states
  • transparency in all adoptions to avoid trafficking and unethical practices
  • constant vision of what the child will see and hear, and services to guide the child and family
  • better services for the underserved: the birth families
  • better services for mediating and maintaining openness at the level that each family/child needs
  • clinically supervised visits and sibling connections camps and other programs that enhance the connections of siblings who are not able to be raised together
  • awareness that ART children have the same challenges and concerns as adopted children and the services that we design have a larger population than was once understood. 

With that said.  National Adoption Month - do your thing!!


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao

All rights reserved, November 2014


Adopted - Full Movie
Adopted - Full Movie

There are many movies about adoption, by adopted people.  Barbara Lee and Nancy Kim Parsons are both adopted and made a movie that is powerful, instructive, and real.

Adoptees' "Lost Language" from Infancy Triggers Brain Response

Emily Chung, CBC News




I was so excited to learn of this research.  For over thirty years, I have been telling adoptive parents and adopted people that they may not have "learning disabilities" but that their original in-utero language patterns may inform their learning in a different way.  I am so glad to have real research on this!


Joni Mitchell - The Magdalene Laundries (with lyrics)
Joni Mitchell - The Magdalene Laundries (with lyrics)


Dr. Valerie O'Brien and I continue our work on the children sent away from Ireland illegally for decades.  Joni Mitchell, as a birth mother, wrote some of her songs about the plight.


Adoption Rights Alliance (Susan Lohan, Claire McGettrick, Mari Steed, Edel Byrne) and Dr Aisling Parkes and Dr Simone McCaughren, Irish Examiner


I recently had to organize my books for Amazon Author.  Here are a few that I wrote or wrote for.  There are more, but some are so old that they don't exist on Amazon!





Woodbury Reports,



The Mission of Three Points Center


"Three Points Center provides comprehensive, valuable, and necessary services to adopted adolescents and their families for the primary purposes of healing wounds, understanding identity, and drawing closer, every day. The Owners, Managers and Employees of Three Points Center have developed treatment procedures designed to support the highest levels of quality care and we will work to exceed these standards, every day."


Trauma Doesn't Tell Time
Robyn Gobbel, LCSW
Christine M Moran

Jane Evans

Understood Editors

Amy Murray


PACT Client Satisfaction Survey


If you have used PACT services as a professional or as a parent or other individual involved in complex blended families, please complete this brief survey.  We are working to ensure that our services are tailored to your and your family's needs.  Thank you for your time and your feedback!



Save the Date!

A Little Day About Adoption in New York City

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao will be joined by Phyllis Lowinger to lead this workshop covering:

  • what adoption is and what it isn't
  • what the developmental issues are for all parties
  • what is normal under the circumstances for adopted children and adolescents
  • what you might want to know about adoption to be the best professional, parent, friend or relative to those in the world of adoption.
Look for more details next month!

If interested, contact Emily at or 617-547-0909


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:


Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao:


New York City Therapy Office for Rent

Our colleague, Phyllis Lowinger, is renting out her fabulous office space some days.  If on UWS and in need of a great space, call Phyllis!


Upper West Side Office is available on Mondays & Thursday (until 5 PM) and  on Tuesday/Fridays and weekends all day and evening.


The space is comfortable for individuals and couples, as well as groups of up to 8.


It is located on 86 Street, between Columbus and Central Park West, near the 7 Ave subway (#1, 2, 3 lines) as well as 8th Ave subway of B&C as well as crosstown bus.


For further details, contact Phyllis Lowinger

(212) 666-3400


"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