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S24-106 Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Foster and Adoptive Families Post-Placement

Total Credits: 3 including 3 Category I CE

100 Children & Adolescents
Jana Hunsley, PhD, LCSW
Course Levels:
3 Hours 15 Minutes
Target Audience:
Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists



The focus of most pre- and post-adoption support programs is on the adopted child and, more specifically, the potential realities of complex developmental trauma. At their best, services offer strategies for improving behavior by building a secure parent–child relationship and healing from early stressful environments. But are these services really meeting the needs of adoptive families? What about parents’ stress or hopelessness? Siblings’ invisibility or parentification? Or the chaotic family environment the whole family is experiencing? This presentation offers a more realistic depiction of families’ needs and a more effective solution to successfully supporting adoptive families.  


Jana Hunsley, PhD, LCSW Related Seminars and Products

Dr. Jana Hunsley is the founder of Project 1025 LLC, an organization devoted to equipping and supporting adoptive and foster families, where she offers consulting, training, coaching, and counseling for families and professionals. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a TBRI Practitioner. Jana received her doctorate in experimental psychology from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University where her research focused on understanding the needs of every member of adoptive and foster families and meeting their needs through developing post-adoption interventions. Over the years, Jana has worked in various clinical settings with children and youth who have experienced trauma, including residential treatment, institutional care, schools, child welfare, and juvenile detention. Jana credits her passion for this work to her siblings, who were adopted when she was a teenager.  

Agenda & Learning Objectives


  1. Trauma Overview 

    1. Trauma Definition 

    2. Effects on Development: Brain, Biology, Beliefs, Behavior 

    3. Complex Developmental Trauma & Adopted Children’s Experiences 

  2. Family Systems Theory Overview & Its Application to Adoptive Families 

    1. Complex Interdependence 

    2. Inherent Connection 

    3. Nuclear Emotional Process 

      1. Fusion in Stress 

  3. Needs of Adoptive Families that Require Support 

    1. Adopted Children Needs 

      1. Complex Developmental Trauma 

      2. Sensory Processing Differences 

      3. Grief & Loss 

      4. Developmental Delays 

    2. Adoptive Caregivers Needs 

      1. Burnout 

      2. Compassion Fatigue 

      3. Vicarious Trauma 

      4. Isolation 

    3. Adoptive Children & Caregiver Relationship 

      1. Lack of Trust 

      2. Blocked Care 

    4. Adoptive Siblings Needs 

      1. Invisibility 

      2. Parentification 

      3. Vicarious Trauma 

      4. Perfectionism/Independence 

    5. Sibling Relationships 

      1. Jealousy 

      2. Inferiority 

    6. Whole Family System Needs 

      1. Stress 

      2. Isolation 

  4. 15-minute break 

  5. What Professionals Can Do to Offer Support 

    1. Their Voices 

      1. What Adoptees Say They Need 

      2. What Caregivers Say They Need 

      3. What Siblings Say They Need 

    2. Three Evidence-Based Strategies 

      1. Reduce Shame 

      2. Find Relief 

      3. Problem-Solving 

    3. Create Anchors 

      1. Open Communication 

      2. One-on-One Time 

      3. Family Rituals 



Upon the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:


  • Explain the various ways caregivers and children can be affected by foster care and adoption in their families.  

  • Identify factors in a family that influence families’ stress levels.  

  • Solve problems in foster and adoptive families by incorporating strategies aimed at communication and connection.  

  • Apply strategies to meet the needs of adoptive siblings pre- and post-adoption and post-foster care.  

Bibliography & References


Atkinson, A., & Gonet, P. (2007). Strengthening adoption practice, listening to adoptive families. Child Welfare, 86(2), 87-104. 

Bird, G., Peterson, R., & Miller, S. H. (2002). Factors associated with distress among support-seeking adoptive parents. Family Relations, 51, 215–220. 

Bowen, M. (1972). Towards the differentiation of self in one’s own family. Family Interactions. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. 

Brodzinsky, D. M. (2006). Family structural openness and communication openness as  predictors in the adjustment of adopted children. Adoption Quarterly, 9(4), 1–18. 

Brodzinsky, D. M. (2011). Child’s understanding of adoption: Developmental and clinical implications. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42, 200–207. 

Brodzinsky, D. M. (2014). Adoptive identity and children’s understanding of adoption: Implications for pediatric practice. In P. Mason & D. Johnson, & L. Albers Prock (Eds.), Adoption medicine: Caring for children and families (pp. 367–394). Elk Grove Village: American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Burke, R. V., The Prevention Group Research Team, Schlueter, C., Bader, E., &  

Authier, K. J. (2018). Post-adoption services for high-risk families and their children: Preliminary results of a state-wide intervention. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 46(2), 122-138.  

Chobhthaigh, S. N., & Duffy, F. (2019). The effectiveness of psychological interventions with adoptive parents on adopted children and adolescents’ outcomes: A systematic review. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 24(1), 69-94. 

Moyer, A. M. & Goldberg, A. E. (2017). ‘We were not planning on this, but…’: Adoptive parents’ reactions and adaptations to unmet expectations. Child & Family Social Work, 22, 12-21. 

Hunsley, J. L., Ekas, N. D., & Crawley, R. D. (2021).  An exploratory study of the impact of adoption on adoptive siblings. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 30(1), 311-324.  

Hunsley, J. L., Crawley, R. D., & Call, C. D. (2021). The pilot of a therapeutic family camp intervention to improve adoptive family functioning. Adoption Quarterly, 25(2), 138-161. 

Hunsley, J. L., Crawley, R. D, & Villaire, S. (2023). The role of communication in the quality of relationships for biological children in adoptive families. Journal of Family Issues. 

Harlow, E. (2019). Defining the problem and sourcing the solution: a reflection on some of the organizational, professional and emotional complexities of accessing post-adoption support. Journal of Social Work Practice, 33(3), 269–280. 

Hunsley, J. L. (2021). Effectiveness of an online intervention to improve understanding, well-being, and connection in adoptive families (Publication No. 28418415) [Dissertation, Texas Christian University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 11187.  

Course Completion & CE Information

Category I Maryland BSWE Requirement

The Office of Continuing Professional Education at the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education programs. This workshop qualifies for {3} Category I Continuing Education Units. The Office of Continuing Professional Education is also authorized by the Maryland Board of Psychologists and the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors to sponsor Category A continuing professional education.

Please refer to the tab "Live Interactive Webinar Policies & FAQs" for UMSSW Office of CPE policies regarding all live interactive webinar related matters.

Target Audience

Social Workers, LCPCs, and Psychologists

We welcome anyone interested in the topic!


Late Fees and Refunds

The base price is $70 and includes CE credit. A non-refundable late fee of $20 is added on 05/17/24

Cancellations** must be received 24 hours in advance prior to the workshop to receive a refund or an account credit.

Late fees cannot be refunded or applied to  account credit. 

**ALL cancellations will be subjected to a $35.00 administration fee.**

Live Interactive Webinar Platforms


The Office of Continuing Professional Education hosts Live Interactive Webinars through two platforms: Zoom and WebEx.

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  • Operating Systems: Windows XP or higher; MacOS 9 or higher; Android 4.0 or higher.
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Course Interaction Requirements:

To participate in Live Interactive Webinars, you MUST have a device that allows you to view the presentation on screen and hear the instructor at all times. We do not allow participants to call-in from their phones or mobile devices and solely listen to the presentation. Participation in Live Interactive Webinars is mandatory.

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ADA Accommodations

If you are requesting ADA accommodations, please contact our office via email at least two weeks prior to the workshop date. Requests after that date may not be fulfilled.  

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