October 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
41°F

Adopted kids may lose funding

Allison Wood | The Gazette

BRUNSWICK — A Brunswick mom is worried her two adopted daughters will not be able to get the specialized counseling services they need if the state cuts the program that helps parents pay for the sessions.

Karen, who wishes her last name not be used, and other adoptive parents across the state are going to Columbus today to protest the proposed cuts and raise awareness about the problems adoptive parents face.

The cuts include the elimination of the PASSS (Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy), which helps parents pay for counseling services and other help to offset the expense of caring for foster and adopted children, who often suffer from emotional problems and may have been abused.

This effort comes as state legislators try to trim more than $2 billion from the budget. On Monday, the state Senate passed a second one-week budget as negotiations continue between Republican legislators and Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.

No matter their age at adoption, children often need specialized counseling to properly bond with their new families and to learn how to express the feelings of grief and loss they often feel from losing their birth parents, Karen said.

Although Karen adopted her daughters, who are now 11 and 13, as toddlers, she said she started seeing some “red flags” a couple of years ago.

Both girls attend counseling sessions at the Attachment and Bonding Center, a clinic in North Royalton that specializes in treating the unique problems adopted children may face.

A couple of years ago, Karen’s older daughter began acting out against her and started stealing.

“The services helped her tremendously,” Karen said. “It helped her get in touch with her grief.”

While her older daughter has made a lot of progress, her younger daughter is just starting to go to counseling and Karen is worried she will not be able to continue the sessions since they would cost thousands of dollars without the subsidy she receives.

“My second daughter has a long way to go,” she said.

Unlike other types of counseling, parents sit in on all sessions and the counselor interacts with the parents and child, Karen said.

While Karen’s daughters did not need counseling until they were older, Jeff, who wishes his last name not be used, needed the services as soon as his family adopted a 6-year-old girl in a “replacement adoption” four years ago.

Before coming to Jeff’s Medina County home, the girl, who came from an overseas orphanage, was placed with a family who gave her back after several months.

After she was adopted, she attended counseling sessions with her new family to help her bond with them. She also has a younger brother, who was adopted at birth.

Without the subsidy, the counseling sessions would have cost Jeff’s family around $20,000 in the first year alone. He said his family must pay about 20 percent of the costs.

Jeff’s daughter still attends counseling sessions on a regular basis and she has made considerable progress within the last year. When she first arrived, he said she would act out constantly and made threats to hurt family members.

“We’re now through the thickest part of the woods,” Jeff said.

He said he is especially concerned children who do not receive this specialized treatment will not be able to remain in a family and will be unable to form meaningful relationships with others.

“These are kids that are going to be a major problem for the state if these problems aren’t fixed now,” he said.

The high costs also could discourage some families from adopting altogether.

“A lot of the time, adoptive parents are tapped out,” Jeff said, because it costs thousands of dollars and there is a long process families must go through before a child even arrives.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.