PAS providers in all five case-study states operated support groups either by leading them or through more limited assistance (e.g., offering a location, providing refreshments, mailing flyers). In addition to PAS staff, counselors, parent liaisons, and graduate students helped facilitate the support groups. Most often, providers formed support groups according to age and level of need (e.g., therapeutic support group). A regional PAS provider in Virginia started an online support group that had approximately 250 active members and over 6,000 postings as of November 2001.
PAS providers and adoptive parents in several of the states reported a growing interest in serving the needs of older adopted children through adolescent support groups. Several providers reported plans to establish support groups for preteens and older adolescents.
|PAS providers were expanding from traditional parent support groups, adding child and adolescent support groups.|
Although providers considered support groups an essential component of PAS, recruiting and retaining families had been a continuing challenge, especially in more rural areas. Providers tried several adjustments to increase and sustain attendance, including holding child and parent groups simultaneously, offering child care for parent support groups, and providing transportation. In Virginia, parent liaisons telephoned parents to remind them about the support group meetings. As discussed earlier, adoptive parents in the focus groups expressed satisfaction with their support groups and took great comfort from participating in them.
(1) Although Oregons PAS program did not include counseling, one of the states service areas used state funding to support a Post-Adoption Family Therapy (PAFT) unit whose staff provided counseling and crisis intervention to families that adopted from the state and live in the Portland area.