Forget Me Not Family Society
4th ANNUAL PRESENTATION TO GRADUATE STUDENTS,
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
12 October 2016
By Bernadette Rymer & Catherine Moore, MA RCC
For the fourth consecutive year, the FMNFS was invited by Dr. Edward Kruk, Associate Professor, to present a three hour seminar to the graduate students in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia.
We invited and were delighted that Catherine Moore was available to make this presentation as our representative.
All the students in the graduate program are in (or have been in) previous practicum placements so they had a lot of questions about the situations they had come across. We had a very intense and interesting group discussion that covered all the questions prepared by the students, in addition to a wide variety of interesting topics and ideas about family and non-traditional families, social attitudes, social injustices and how to right these injustices.
Prior to the presentation, the graduate students were asked to submit five questions to us so we could research information related to their questions and prepare our presentation. The five questions they chose are as follows:
- When a family adopts a child, what, if any are the child’s rights to know his/her siblings who perhaps live with their biological parent(s) or other caregivers? If the biological parent does not want to have an open adoption what happens, and whose rights trump?
- How would you rank the significance and/or impact of knowing your biological origins as they relate to identity formation?
- Birth parents and adoptees agree that reunion services should be available to anyone who seeks that option. What do searchers and search subjects report about the reunion experience?
- With the diminishing numbers of infants available for adoption, there has been an increase in the number of adoptions from other countries, including significant numbers of trans-racial adoptions. What guidelines do you suggest regarding openness in these cases? (There seems to be a contradiction between domestic adoption policy and the reality of inter-country adoption.) Should international / trans-racial adoptions be permitted / encouraged?
- What are the rights of children and fathers in regard to biological fathers being given the first preference in the adoption of infants?
Catherine Moore reports that the following topics and areas of interest were discussed:
- The impact on all members of the adoption circle of closed adoption.
- The impact for adoptees, birth mothers and birth fathers (who are so rarely discussed and given a voice) as well as adoptive parents.
- I introduced Pauline Boss’s concept of ambiguous loss, talked about the typical emotional fallout for each member of the adoption circle some of which they were familiar with or could empathize with.
- They were fascinated by the detailed accounts of reunion and the impact it has, the typical patterns and what participants report as the benefits and costs.
- We explored open ministry placements, private adoptions with varying degrees of openness and the impact each presents to families.
- There was a lot of discussion and interest from students about policy implications and best practices.
- The incongruity between what we know and actual adoption and fostering practice.
- There was considerable discussion about legal and human rights.
- There was much interest in international adoptions, cross cultural adoptions and the impact for people who experience them.
- We talked about balancing interests and rights in complex families and I shared some of my personal story as well as bits and pieces of lots of other stories that have been shared (with permission) with me in the past.
I assigned the students the task of finding out more on their own by calling the Ministry and licensed adoption agencies in the province. They will need to be able to figure out who to connect with in the future when a situation or information needed is outside their scope or field of knowledge.
Given the very involved and lively discussion I would assess that students got a lot out of it. And since they more or less directed the conversation and asked me to field questions I expect that they got out of it what they were interested in and found relevant.
Dr. Edward Kruk shared with me that he has a lot of guest speakers and that the most impactful experience for students in the past has been the team presentations by the FMNFS.
Catherine Moore is a registered clinical counsellor with a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. She has many years of professional experience as an educator and a therapist, with special interests in adoption and health psychology.