Adoptive Families Together forms a supportive network of adoptive parents, who can combine experiences and information to strengthen our families and our adoptions. AFT families have adopted children domestically and internationally, infants and older children, kin and children with special needs. We welcome adopted persons, guardians, birth and foster parents, professionals working in the field of adoption and, of course, all adoptive families.
Parents enter adoption with personal visions of what becoming a family by adoption would be like. Many of us have been challenged by adoption concerns such as identity, loss and separation.
We know love is not enough.
We know that education, information, advocacy and the support of other families who have been there enhance the success of our families after our children have been placed. We know that education, information, advocacy and the support of other families who have been there enhance the success of our families after our children have been placed.
The service we consider most important is our network of monthly parent groups, hosted and facilitated by AFT Parent Coordinators. These parent run, confidential groups are primarily open discussions during which parents can share their personal concerns and needs around adoptive parenting. On occasion we invite speakers with expertise on issues relevant to our children and families to educate our group participants.
Collectively, our parents represent the best source of knowledge, resources and insight in understanding and meeting the needs of their children. Through mutual sharing and support, parents build a network with other adoptive parents in their communities.
Groups are meeting monthly in communities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and now Maine! To learn more about our Parent Support Groups, or to get dates and the location of a group in your area, please call us at 617-587-1563.
AFT offers a series of workshops to educate people about the realities of the adoptive experience. To date, we have developed six distinct workshops, which we present to parents, professionals, and social work students in various settings. Below are descriptions of our different workshops.
- Whatever Happened to the Cleavers? Working with adoptive and other complex families: Statistics tell us that the two parent traditional family is no longer a majority. This workshop address the issues faced by complex, blended families with particular attention to the issues of adoptive families. Personal stories, poetry and interactive experiences will help all appreciate Ward, June, Wally and the “Beaver” after adoption.
- The Other Side of the Looking Glass: Those who parent children not born to them, often begin with the assumption that love will be enough. Often, we discover that this is a job “beyond parenting”. We discover that we need to develop skills beyond love. So… if you follow the White Rabbit down the hole, wear your overalls and leave your party clothes at home. Brief skits, breakout discussions, and a panel discussion. Includes tips for talking with kids who don’t talk, interacting with school, medical, mental health, and legal professionals, survival of the adolescent years and a summary of professional practices that did and didn’t help. Check with the ” Mad Hatter ” for your invitation to” The Tea Party “.
- First Star On the Right, Straight On ‘Til Morning: Living in the Never-Never Land of Legal Risk Adoption: This is an opportunity to hear the story of the court system with its 210s and 303s, explained in layman’s terms by an attorney who will answer your questions, and by adoptive and pre-adoptive parents who battled “Captain Hook and his crew along the way. Learn of the opportunities and the pitfalls in they encounter in the quest to help “The Lost Boys” (and girls) join their forever parents in a “more timely fashion”.
- Destination: Oz, A Trip Down the Not So Yellow Brick Road. Opening Closed Adoptions – Why? How? and Afterwards: Share the journeys of adoptive families who now live in various degrees of openness with the birth families of their children. Learn from their successes and disasters the courage, heart and brains it took to navigate the twists and turns of this road both internationally and domestically. If you have ever wondered about making this journey yourself or questioning motivations of those who have, grab Toto, your basket, a couple of bricks and join us to see if “The Wizard” is really the one to get us back to Kansas.
- The Family That Stays Together… needs a whole lot of help! What Parents Want Professionals to Know: Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water – Jaws reappears and this time speaks in the many voices of parents who have been chomped, chewed and swallowed by the bureaucratic policies and systems that have failed to support them. Listen to what parents expect professionals to know, tell professionals who their families are and how the current policies of “helping” agencies and state systems can be changed to be more effective.
- So, You Want to Be A Groupie? AFT “groupies” are parent volunteers who have heard the beat of a different drummer and now lead the parade of other parents working together to strengthen our families and support all those touched by adoption. Our model of leadership, education and training has helped this growth. Join our band to discuss the character and evolution of groups, their value as a resource, some successful topics and guidelines.
Online Discussion Group
Our moderated on-line group provides parents with a 24-hour support forum, focusing on children with challenging behaviors and complex needs. Parents use the on-line group to seek information, share stories, gain and offer support. The group’s knowledgeable and experienced parents are especially helpful to newly forming families.
AFT provides many resources, including our newsletter, book, and pamphlets, a selection of recommended reading, web links to local and national adoption-related organizations, and post-adoption services in Massachusetts. We publish the following:
In Their Own Words . . . Reflections on Parenting Children with Mental Health Issues: The Effect on Families: Thanks to the generosity of AFT members and friends, the 3rd edition of our resource book, In Their Own Words…Reflections on Parenting Children with Mental Health Issues: The Effect on Families is available. By request, this edition is updated and revised to be a resource for families nationally. Massachusetts resource listings are available as an insert. All members receive a copy of this book with their new member packages. If you are interested in purchasing additional copies, please contact us at 617-587-1563 or emailing us.
Pamphlet Series – A complete set of pamphlets is free when you subscribe as a member. Members may purchase additional copies and non-members can order pamphlets at a cost of $4.00 each by calling us at 617-587-1563 or emailing us.
The Anniversary Collection – A selection of prose and poetry by AFT members previously published in our newsletters.
Choosing a Therapist – Although one of the most important decisions a parent will make, this process is often confusing and intimidating for those of us unfamiliar with the world of mental health. Here is an easy to read guide to inform and assist you.
Restraint and Seclusion – What defines restraint and seclusion? How do these actions affect our children both emotionally and physically? This pamphlet includes methods of proactively questioning your child care provider to reduce and eliminate restraint and/or seclusion from your child’s treatment plan.
When The Going Gets Tough – What constitutes a crisis? How will I know and what should I do? Pamphlet includes criteria, pro-active language, and a suggested plan of action.
Reading and ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic…Children with Loss Issues, Complex Families and Their School Experience – Children often feel different when traditional school assignments ask for personal information they may not have or feel comfortable sharing.
School Days…What Adoptive Parents Would Like Teachers to Know – This pamphlet relates learning objectives to assignments and gives concrete suggestions that will expand assignments to include all children.
Difference Matters – Articles about racial differences, racism, bullying and suggested strategies to help children learn to be safe.
Parent to Parent…AFT Adoptive Parents Share their Lessons Learned – As parents of children who have been adopted, we have a big job to do. Here is a collection of tried and true suggestions and tips from AFT parents.
Newsletters – Our newsletter, The Network, is sent directly to members. Back issues of The Network are available to read and download by clicking on the titles below.
- Spring 2004 Featured articles include, We are a Family by Karen McCarthy, and Top Ten Hints for Successful First Year Parenting by Deborah Gray MSW/MPA.
- Spring 2003 Room in Our Hearts, by Rebecca Weller Brown, explores open adoption from a parent’s point of view.
- Winter 2003 Featured articles include My Wish by J.C. and Difference Matters by Heather Lerminiaux.
- Summer 2002 Featured articles include Attachment: What’s the Problem by Corinne Rayburn and Theraplay by Jim Mahoney.
- Spring 2002 Featured articles include An Adoptive Dad’s Perspective…Adopting the Older Child by Glen Sexton, An Adoptive Mom’s Perspective by Corinne Rayburn, and How Do Children Change? by Dr. Frank R. Kunstal.
Alternatives to the Traditional Family Tree Assignments – AFT developed a series of worksheets to use instead of traditional family trees. These alternatives are more reflective of the complex family structures of children in every classroom. These worksheets are available for you to reprint and share with your children’s classroom teachers. Themes available include:
- People Who Make Me Shine
- My Neighborhood
Our calendar lists locations of Parent Group Meetings and other group information including events and speakers. The complete AFT Parent Group schedule is available in a PDF format for easy reference and for printing. Click here to view.
Childcare is available at the Jamaica Plain, Kittery, Portsmouth and Roslindale Parent Support Groups. To ensure there are enough childcare providers, please call us at 617-587-1563 to pre-register your child(ren).
For more information about our groups and group cancellations due to bad weather, please call us at 617-587-1563.
The success of our program depends on our members. Each individual and family contributes their unique experience, knowledge and perspective. Our membership includes families who have adopted children domestically and internationally, infants and older children, kin and children with special needs. We welcome adopted persons, birth parents, foster parents and guardians, and professionals working in the field of adoption.
Member benefits include:
- Our newsletter, “The Network” features articles on individual experiences, tips, humor, poetry, calendar of events and much more.
- “The AFT Presents” pamphlet series.
- A copy of our resource book “In their Own Words”.