Like many of you, the first two years home with our daughter involved sleepless nights and restless days with a tired, hyper-aroused toddler. It was during those early years that I began my informal education in trauma and the brain, attachment disorders, positive parenting, and floor time.
In 2011, when my daughter was seven years old, I had the serendipitous good fortune to stumble across a job posting for an in-home support person to work with newly adopted families through the Adoptive Families Association of BC. Although I had completed my undergrad degree several years prior, and my experience working with families was also long ago (I had worked part time as a child care worker while in University), I decided to brush off my social services resume and apply. Over a year later, I am happy and somewhat surprised to say that my passion - children and their families - has become a challenging and rewarding career and an academic pursuit.
A little more about my position: in 2011, AFABC, in conjunction with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, piloted a program for adoptive families that involved in-home support, education, parenting strategies, and filial therapy (a type of play therapy that parents do with their children). AFABC recognized that peer support from another adoptive parent was key. Therefore, they hired and trained me extensively, and teamed me up with a clinical supervisor who had an extensive background in child mental health. Within that year, I decided that I wanted even more training. I am now halfway through completing my Masters in Psychology. I plan to continue doing the sacred work of helping chidren settle into their families, while supporting parents in what are sometimes the hardest years of their new lives together.
The pilot program that I am employed through is nearing the end of funding and AFA is looking at different ways we can continue to offer this service to parents at the start of their journey. AFABC also offers a course called The Middle Years that teaches this form of filial therapy to parents. It is a highly effective way to enhance parent-child attunement, improve communication, set limits and boundaries and solve other behavioural issues. The theory behind this type of therapy is that parents can be the agents of therapeutic change for their children; at the start of an adoption, therapeutic play with child and parent enhances the relationship and promotes attachment.
Visit bcadopt.com for more info on when the workshop is being offered next. For more information on how Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) and filial therapy has been adapted for adoptive families visit this link: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28403/m1/1/
Carol Alexander is an adoptive parent and an in-home support worker with AFABC.