Overcoming Obstacles in Adoption Journey

Together, we fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community, and with your help, we’re changing lives for the better. These stories offer a glimpse into the positive impact we can have when we LIVE UNITED.

The following story was submitted by our funded partner Pathway Caring for Children.


There are several obstacles along the lifelong journey of adoption. After receiving Pathway’s post-adoption services this does not mean all issues are resolved, as there are several highs and lows along the way. Pathway provides Family Empowerment to work individually with parents to educate them on our trauma parenting model, and apply these strategies to their child’s unique needs. We want to help parents to learn a new way to parent so they continue to be family for the child when they grow up and are an adult, which often looks different than the traditional family way.

The Jones family adopted their son, Jay, when he was 5 years old. Mrs. Jones called Pathway desperate for help when her son was 16 years old, turning 17 soon. He was involved multiple unhealthy behaviors, and had become very disrespectful to his parents. The parents were using traditional parenting and were angry with Jay most of the time, yelling at him, grounding him and having no impact on Jay. They did not know what else to do.

The Jones family committed to coming to Pathway weekly for therapy for Jay and for Family Empowerment, where the parents could learn TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention). This model concentrates on building a trust relationship between parent and child. The first day Jay came to Pathway, he looked downcast, held his head down, did not make eye contact, was closed off and distant and looked very unhappy. He had athletic skills but had trouble staying on the school’s sports teams due to his behaviors.

At the end of the summer, the whole situation had changed. Jay was looking happy, engaging in therapy, respectful with parents and making better choices. What made the difference? The adoptive parents learned to regulate themselves and speak respectfully to him, giving him voice and seeking to listen and understand when they talked together. They learned to problem solve together. The parents learned how to give choices and offer compromises when they were disagreeing. The parents learned that the relationship was more important than any other issue. They worked on being emotionally present, and partnering for Jay’s success. Jay was able to finish his football season successfully, get A’s instead of F’s and work out thing by using his words to ask permission and show respect.

When Jay turned 18, he did not choose to come to therapy anymore. Here we are now at the close of his senior year. Paula Gates, Pathway’s Post-Adoption and Kinship Services Director received an email from Mrs. Jones last week. Mrs. Jones explained Jay had chosen to involve himself in behaviors unacceptable for living in their home and how the rough the past year had been. She concluded the email with, “We still remain in contact, occasionally visiting. He came to our house for a family grad party today. We are trying our best to shift from the “you need to’s” to “what do you think/how do you feel about that. and to help him take a more active role being the adult and us being the supportive role when he allows. Thank you again for being there for us - we wish we had found you sooner! You guys are in our corner whispering in our ears, still guiding us through this transition. But, he graduated! And that is huge!”

They got it – how to be there for Jay, and to continue to be his family and be in relationship with him – even when he makes mistakes. He trusts his parents enough to come to them even though he has not done what was needed to live in their home. Though this may not be a conventional story of success, the Jones’ are persisting. They are still family!”

About Pathway for Caring Children

Pathway Caring for Children is a private, non-profit social service agency that empowers children and families to realize their potential and achieve the possibilities of their lives through innovative mental health, foster care and adoption services.

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