For Adoptive and Permanent Families

A Child's Song is pleased to offer workshops uniquely designed to meet the needs of families with children or youth who have experienced early trauma and attachment losses and are now joined together through adoption or permanency.

Attachment Basics for Adoptive Families

This workshop offers essential information for adoptive parents, and their extended family, about how attachment forms in adoption, and the key points of connection, that will ensure attachment security between parents and children.

Workshop topics include: the difference between secure and insecure attachment, the impact of early attachment experiences and navigating the existing relationships your child had prior to coming into your care, how to create an experience of being ‘known’ for your child so that he/she can start to trust your ability to read their cues and effectively meet their needs.

Healthy Transitions for Adoptive Families

If you’re a prospective adoptive parent looking for practical strategies to ensure a successful transition for your whole family – this workshop is for you.

The focus of this workshop will be on families (local or international adoption) who are soon to be in transition – you have received a proposal for a child or sibling set, age birth to 12 years old, and placement/transition plans are underway.

Workshop topics include: managing challenging behaviours during transition, making decisions about contact with foster family or former caregivers, extended family roles, impact on other children in the home, responding to grief and loss symptoms, managing meals and bedtime routines, planning and scheduling activities, responding to daycare and school issues and coping with the stress of parenting without attachment.

You may also be interested in our resource manual Transitioning Children from Foster Care to Adoption available for purchase from our online store.

Exceptional Parenting for Adoptive Families

Whether you are a parent/caregiver through adoption, fostering or raising the child of a relative, you already know that a high level of care giving is required to meet the needs of your child. Children who have been abused, neglected, witnessed violence or have had multiple caregivers have experienced some degree of developmental trauma. These experiences can interfere with the typical course of development for children.

Even when previously traumatized children are placed in a safe, loving home, they often continue to respond and behave in ways that were previously adaptive but are no longer necessary. We know that traditional discipline responses are ineffective and often counterproductive for these children.

Through this workshop parents/caregivers begin developing an intervention plan that considers the child’s previous experiences and adaptive responses.  They will also learn strategies for effective responding that will increase parent/caregiver-child connection and improve child functioning.

Therapeutic Play to Strengthen Parent-Child Connection

Early child therapists theorized that playing with a child, in a non-directive way, would encourage a secure relationship between the parent and child, while providing the child freedom and room to express him/herself. In the context of non-directive play, children are free to express their innermost thoughts and feelings. A child’s behavior and self-expression within the play is determined by how the child feels, and what’s on their mind, which offers parents a window into the child’s inner world.

In these special playtimes parents can learn to build a different kind of relationship with their child – one where the child feels understood and accepted as they are. When children feel accepted and understood in this way, they often will play out their problems, and in the process, release tensions, feelings and problems.

This workshop will provide parents with the how-to’s of this special playtime, as well as address parental concerns regarding their child’s response to non-directive play and about the types of play their child may engage with, and the parent’s own reactions to those choices.

Making Sense of the Emotional Experience of Parenting Your Adopted Child

This workshop speaks to the unique emotional journey of adoptive parents. Research and clinical experience informs us that adoptive parents, particularly those parenting children with a history of abuse and trauma, have a unique set of emotional experiences.

Adoption brings unique and powerful dynamics into the parent-child relationship. Parents often find themselves triggered by the behavior of their children and reacting in ways that are unexpected and upsetting. Understanding where the feelings come from, what they mean, and how to manage them effectively, is essential to being able to parent effectively.

Discipline Strategies for Adoptive Parenting: Why is it so different?

Making decisions about effective discipline is often confusing for adoptive parents. While it is clear that there are differences in how we need to respond to children with trauma histories, it is often not so clear exactly how to do that.​

This workshop explores the implications of a child’s early history, and how it offers parents insight into what children need in order to form healthy attitudes and responses. The presenter will discuss some of the common child-behaviour concerns that parents have presented in therapy, and the attachment-based responses that have proven effective.  Parents will take away from this workshop some key principles for making informed decisions in responding to difficult behaviours.

Parenting an Anxious Child: Why It’s Different with Adoptees!

Research shows that adoptees are more vulnerable than the general population to anxiety and depression and yet often don’t receive the help they need. Parenting a child with anxiety can be a confusing and stressful experience. Often typical interventions don’t seem to work for adoptees and can even make things worse.

In this workshop, parents will have an opportunity to reflect on the function of their child’s anxiety and learn more effective ways of responding. Adoptee-sensitive therapeutic interventions for anxiety will be shared, and parents will gain a better understanding of when, and how, to provide the right kind of support for their child.

Hurt Kids, Hurting Parents

Parenting a child who has experienced early trauma can be confusing, and often, very challenging. Parents may find themselves feeling manipulated, rejected or victimized by their child’s behavior and questioning their ability to respond effectively. When parents are triggered by their child’s behavior, they often find themselves responding in ways that are uncharacteristic – leaving everyone confused and emotionally charged.

This workshop will explore some common experiences of adoptive parents – such as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress and post-adoption depression – in the context of how they impact the whole family. Parents will learn supportive strategies they can use immediately, as well as an understanding of more intensive therapies that have proven to be successful. Participants will also be given the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and hear stories of other adoptive parents who have experienced healing and positive change. Parents will take away hope that healing is possible – no matter the circumstances.

Birth Family Relationships: Navigating the Complexities with Courage and Compassion

This workshop is for prospective adoptive parents who are considering openness, adoptive parents who anticipate open relationships in the future, and those who are currently in relationships with their child’s birth family. A child’s knowledge and understanding of those with whom they share biology undoubtedly plays a role in shaping who they become. Adoptive parents play a crucial role in supporting healthy identity formation for their children – in the way they explain, support, and validate the role of birth family.

Participants will leave with a better understanding of how to make the tough decisions around providing birth family information to their children, supporting contact and visits, setting healthy boundaries and effectively responding to the big feelings of their children.

Raising Black Kids in Multiracial Families

This workshop offers practical information and strategies for parents who are navigating the complexities of being a multi-racial family in an interracial world. As adoptive parents, we are faced with the challenge of raising our black children in a society that forces them, and ourselves, to come face to face with what it means to be a Black youth. We encounter situations that cause us to feel outraged and yet often feel ill equipped to fully comprehend our child’s experience and respond with confidence to racism.

This workshop will introduce the Black Racial Identity Developmental Model, a helpful framework for viewing the racial struggles of our Black children, as well as examine some of the dominant stereotypes assigned to Black youth of today’s culture. Participants will then observe a discussion with adoptive parents, who have lived these experiences, and through the sharing of stories, the facilitator will demonstrate how this theory offers parents a practical framework for responding to the real life challenges.

Brothers and Sisters in Permanency: Attachment Strategies for Parenting Siblings

Sibling relationships are the longest relationships in our lives and play a significant role in forming our future relationship templates. Whether siblings are joined together through adoption and/or birth or step parenting – each child will have unique needs specific to their early experiences.

Knowing how to prioritize, and meet the unique needs of more than one child at a time, is often very challenging for adoptive parents.

This workshop will explore the common challenges and experiences of siblings through adoption, and/or birth or step parenting, as well as highlight the importance of understanding each child’s history, to be able to identify what the child’s behaviour is communicating. Parents will be provided with helpful strategies to encourage the development of secure relationships with both parents and siblings.

Parenting Adolescents: Enhancing the Attachment Relationship

Parenting adolescent adoptees has its own unique joys and challenges. This is a crucial stage of development for maintaining a strong parent-child connection. Whether your child was an infant or an older child at adoption, they will encounter struggles that are specific to their early history, and unique to the experience of adoptees.

This workshop will explore the concept of multiple levels of adolescent development that become apparent at this stage, and are often confusing for parents. Understanding how to respond to this variance in development will be discussed and parents will take away both a new perspective and practical strategies.

Understanding and Advocating for the Needs of Adoptees in School

Children who have experienced early trauma, and caregiver losses, often encounter difficulties in their school environment. Multiple factors contribute to children feeling emotionally unsafe, and unable to tolerate the feelings of shame, and lack of competence, that they encounter in this setting.

It is important for adoptive parents, and the professionals that support adoptees, to advocate for the unique needs of these children, in their learning environments. If a child’s experience is acknowledged, and validated, they are able to trust that adults understand them, and are able to meet their needs, opening up opportunities for learning.

This workshop will assist parents and professionals to assess whether a child is able to tolerate their learning environment, to identify their experiences and understand how it relates to their history. Parents and school professionals will also explore what adaptations are most useful in creating successful learning environments for adoptees in the classroom.

Mon-Sat 9am - 4pm
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