From Foster Care Placement Through Adoption: Attachment Bonds, Loyalty Binds, and Questions of Identity

Professionals working within foster care frequently speak of the “crazy-making” structure of the “broken” system.  Workers are asked daily to resolve family problems that are a direct result of system-created problems: children are removed from their biological homes because of poverty; siblings are separated after placement because a foster home doesn’t have enough space; children linger in foster care developing their attachments with foster parents as their parents struggle to reach the moving finish line that is their service plan.   The typically long and drawn out process of family reunification or termination of parental rights leaves children, foster parents, and biological parents living with multiple questions: Who should I love? Who can I love? Who is my family? Where do I belong?

In this workshop, members of Ackerman’s Foster Care and Adoption Project (FCAP) will present an approach to working with families involved in various stages of the foster care system and adoption, highlighting strategies to help foster parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, and caseworkers relieve children of relational dilemmas and the behavior problems that result from such binds.  An overview of the paradoxes of the foster care system will provide the context for sequencing conversations that help children and adults move out of emotional chaos. Video will be used to demonstrate conversations that help all family members talk about and name the complexity of their lives including understanding that children can love more than one adult, children can have multiple families, and adults can communicate with other caregivers even when they do not like one another.

In this workshop participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of the structure and timeline of foster care and permanency planning
  • Learn strategies to help children out of common loyalty binds and relational dilemmas
  • Develop an understanding of how to sequence therapy sessions with different members of the family system to help children thrive whether family reunification or adoption is the permanency outcome
  • Develop interviewing skills to help children develop a positive sense of self with particular focus on their racial identity

Catherine Lewis, LCSW, MS, is a Co-Director of the Ackerman Foster Care and Adoption Project. Ms. Lewis has extensive experience working with families who have experienced trauma and has served in leadership positions at several New York City social service agencies and has presented nationally and internationally on the best practices of working with families. Ms. Lewis maintains a private practice in New York City and Westport, Connecticut, working with families, couples, and children. In Connecticut, Ms. Lewis serves as the Co-Director of the Fairfield Chapter of A Home Within, a national network of volunteer mental health professionals who provide therapy for children in foster care.

Andrea Blumenthal, LCSW, is on the teaching faculty at Ackerman Institute, Co-Director of the Ackerman Foster Care and Adoption Project and a clinical member of Ackerman’s Center for Families and Health. As a clinician working in community-based settings, Andrea focused on working with individuals and families affected by physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma and has completed a post-graduate training program in the Treatment of Interpersonal Trauma at Fordham University and is a graduate of the Clinical Externship training program at Ackerman.  Ms. Blumenthal maintains a private practice specializing in interpersonal traumas and relationship issues with couples and families.

Kacy Ames, LCSW, is a clinic associate in the Foster Care and Adoption Project at Ackerman.  Kacy maintains a private practice in Manhattan where she primarily meets with individuals, couples and families touched by adoption and has run groups for adopted children, tweens and teenagers through Families with Children from China, All Together Now and the Bank Street School.  She previously was a regular contributor to Adoption Today magazine and formerly served on the Board of All Together Now.  She has presented workshops throughout North America and Korea on various themes of intercountry and transracial adoption and was drawn to this work through her own personal experience as a transracial adoptee.

Paige Hamilton-O’Connor, LMHC is a Clinic Associate with the Foster Care and Adoption Project at Ackerman. Paige has 10 years of experience in working in the child-welfare and addiction fields and currently serves as the Manager of Trauma Recovery Services for The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and completed the externship at Ackerman Institute for the Family.

Date: Friday, December 8, 2017
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuition: $140
CE Contact Hours: 5



To register by mail or fax click here

If you are an Ackerman alumni of the Externship or current Ackerman student, please contact the Training Department to register.

Damaly Ferreira
212 879-4900, ext 111
training@ackerman.org