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

Professionals working within foster care speak frequently 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 don’t like one another.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will develop and understanding of the structure and timeline of foster care and permanency planning
  • Participants will learn strategies to help children out of common loyalty binds and relational dilemmas
  • Participants will develop an understanding of how to sequence therapy sessions with different members of the family system in order to help children thrive whether family reunification or adoption is the permanency outcome
  • Participants will develop interviewing skills that will enable them to name complicated dynamics in order to help children develop positive identity

Date / Time

Date / Time:

Friday, December 13, 2019
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Continuing Education:

5 CE Contact Hours



Catherine Lewis, LCSW, MS, is the Ackerman Institute’s Director of Community Training and Director of Ackerman’s Foster Care and Adoption Project (FCAP). 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. She has presented nationally and internationally on the best practices of working with families. Ms. Lewis maintains a small private practice in New York City and Westport, Connecticut, working with families, couples, and children. Ms. Lewis is an active member of TEAM Westport, a town-appointed committee dedicated to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the community.

Andrea Blumental, LCSW, Andrea Blumenthal, LCSW, is a member of the teaching faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and Co-Director of the Ackerman Foster Care and Adoption Project. She is also a clinical member of Ackerman’s Center for Families and Health. She has extensive experience working with children of all ages and diverse families in a variety of agency contexts. As a clinician working in community-based settings, she has focused on working with individuals and families affected by physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other forms of trauma.

Kacy Ames, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Manhattan where she works with individuals, couples and families touched by adoption.  She is a member of the Foster Care and Adoption Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family. She did her postgraduate training in couples and family therapy at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, and in adoption therapy at Hunter College School of Social Work. Kacy was a former bimonthly contributor to Adoption Today where she wrote about themes relating to adoption. She has run groups for adopted children, tweens and teenagers through Families with Children from China, All Together Now and Bank Street School. Kacy is a Korean American transracial adoptee.

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