Marie Dolfi

What is your connection to adoption, foster care and/or post-adoption services?
My connection to the adoption community began when I become involved with my local adoption support group in the early 1990s. This was followed by becoming a member of New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children [now the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York] whom I have helped with their advocacy agenda for over 15 years. Seven years ago, I started my private practice as a social worker specializing in adoption issues. Additional post-adoption experience includes being on the advisory board of Parsons Child and Family Center’s post-adoption program. More recently, I joined Voice for Adoption and the American Adoption Congress.

In your opinion, why are post-adoption services important to building strong families?
Love, commitment, and traditional parenting methods are not a magic wand to remove the emotional scars of neglect, abuse, fetal alcohol exposure, and other difficult early life experiences. Adoptive parents need a bigger toolbox of parenting skills on adoption issues, trauma, attachment, and other mental health issues. Post-adoption programs are needed because the average community does not have parent support groups, respite [care], and adoption-competent mental health providers.

What do you think are the biggest barriers to post-adoption services being available?
The initial barrier is to educate individuals that while many children who joined their family by adoption do not need specialized services that [those] children [who have] had difficult early life experiences have unique mental health needs that require specialized services. Once you start talking about the different populations within the adoption community, most people understand the need. Another barrier is post-adoption services are competing with other child welfare services for funding and many people are hesitant to take away funds from other programs to fund PAS.

Where do you turn for information on post-adoption services?
To stay current on post-adoption services, research and legislation, I subscribe to a number of e-newsletters. The best e-newsletters are The Donaldson Adoption Institute, Voice for Adoption, North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York.