Volume 3 • Issue 2 • Spring 2005
an adoptive family
In C.A.S.E. The Center for Adoption Support and Education, Inc.
support center Is Your Teen Wearing a Mask?
Inside ould you like to know what is going on
Beneath the Mask
in your adopted teen’s mind? Do you By Debbie Riley, M.S.
Six Hurdles for the Adopted wonder what they are thinking? How
Adolescent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
they are really feeling? Do you think that identi-
Community Connections. . . . . 3 fying ways to deal with all of those feelings I wrote Beneath
Child Advocacy Award might make it more peaceful at home? Does the Mask because
You Can Make A Difference. . . 3 being adopted complicate the process of adoles- I discovered a
Birdies for Charities cence? Wonder if counseling might help your void of vital infor-
Fourth Annual Golf Benefit son or daughter plot a course through the rocky mation for both
path to adulthood? parents and therapists of adopted teens. As I
studied the adoption experience of hundreds
Spring/Summer Program A PUZZLE WITH A MISSING PIECE
Schedule. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 of teens within my therapy practice, there
“Being adopted is like being a puzzle – except appeared to be some commonalities among
The Center For Adoption there is a missing piece!” writes an adopted teen. all the adolescents. The impetus behind my
Support and Education, Inc. “I am thankful I was adopted but…it’s so hard to decision to organize and record my thoughts
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: live with the missing piece of the puzzle, it’s and experiences came from the teenagers and
Kathleen O. Dugan, President never complete!” The puzzle as a metaphor for parents with whom I have had the privilege
Mary A. Allman, Vice President describing how adoption feels to an adoptee is and honor to work.
Cheryl Thomas, Treasurer reflected in the countless interviews we have
Dean H. Klein, Secretary Dr. Meeks, my colleague and a nationally rec-
held at C.A.S.E. with adopted children and teens.
ognized child and adolescent psychiatrist and I,
The quest to define one’s identity is a challenge wrote this book with the hope that by sharing
Caren Camp for adoptees who must determine who they are our impressions, we can give parents and pro-
Veronica Caprara without the basic knowledge of where they came fessionals a framework with which to deepen
Gail Goff from. Helping them to chart this rocky journey is your own appreciation of the significance of
Sally Koblinsky one of the reasons I wrote Beneath the Mask:
the adoption experience.
Francis X. Watkins
Understanding Adopted Teens, the first book of
(continued on p. 2)
Debbie B. Riley, Executive Director its kind.
TODAY SHOW features nationally recognized
adoption expert, Debbie Riley, M.S.
Ms. Riley, Executive Director of C.A.S.E. and author of newly published
“Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens” was a recent guest on the
NBC’s TODAY SHOW, Weekend Edition. As a part of their month long series
of “Raising Kids Today”, host Campbell Brown asked Ms. Riley about “How
to Talk about Adoption with Children”. Ms. Riley, a nationally recognized
and award winning pioneer in the field of adoption, recommended strategies
for parents on how to talk to children about their adoption story.
Campbell Brown and Debbie Riley enjoy a backstage chat
after the live interview.
Is Your Teen Wearing a Mask?
(continued from p. 1)
Excerpt from “Beneath the Mask: DIFFERENCE – Feeling different from peers is parents do exist. Telling your teen about the simi-
Understanding Adopted Teens” the worse curse of adolescence. Adoptees may larities you see between yourselves can be an
have a different appearance than their adoptive invaluable exercise for adoptive parents. Teens are
SIX HURDLES FOR THE ADOPTED family, or may be a different race or cultural amazed by their parents’ perceptions and feel a
ADOLESCENT background and may feel different from peers stronger sense of bonding as a result.
Although not all teens dwell on each of the sub- who are being raised in biologically related fam-
jects described below, it is common for teens to LOYALTY – All adopted children ponder the exis-
ilies. Negative feelings about these differences
grapple with each area as they try to gain under- tence and character of their birthparents at some-
can affect a child’s sense of self-worth and
standing of their personal adoption experiences. time in their lives, no matter what the adoptive
security with his adoptive family. Parents may
experience. Many experience guilt related to these
REASON FOR ADOPTION – Children are extremely often minimize the power of the outside world’s
thoughts and feelings. Fearing the disapproval of
curious about their adoption story, but they bias, and so they have no idea of the depth of
their parents, adopted teens may hide their feelings
seem to accept most of the answers they are racism their child is experiencing.
and struggle alone. Teens and parents must realize
given. Sometimes adoptive parents sweeten the PERMANENCE – Adopted children are at risk that thinking about birthparents does not mean
story or omit painful details. But, in adoles- for developing maladaptive beliefs about the they love their parents any less. “I am so afraid to
cence, the tone of questioning changes. security of the relationship with their parents. tell my mom that I think about my birth mom,” said
Adolescents demand fuller and more factual They think, "I’ve lost one set of parents; I could Amy, a 16-year-old. “In the past when I mention
answers, and often respond with anger. As more lose another." This is especially true of those this to her, she acted upset. I love her and don’t
critical thinkers, they refine their earlier vague who have experienced multiple moves prior to want to hurt her.”
questions into the very personal exploration of adoption. Some adopted children go to great
the question, “Why did my birthmother and lengths to test their parents’ commitment, often Debbie Riley, M.S. is Executive Director of the Center
birthfather leave me?” without awareness of their own motivation. for Adoption Support and Education, Inc. and had
MISSING OR DIFFICULT INFORMATION – Fear of separation may inhibit the adopted been a practicing Marriage and Family therapist for
teen’s ability to achieve emancipation from par- over 28 years, focusing on adolescent mental health,
Adopted children often have to face the reality
treating teens in outpatient, impatient and community
that there is information they would like to know, ents.
mental health settings. Since 1993, she has focused
but it may be unobtainable. They may say, “I IDENTITY – A major task of the adolescent is to exclusively on the field of adoption, creating C.A.S.E.,
don’t know what my birthparents looked like. I form an identity. Peers assume increasing an innovative, nationally recognized adoptive family
don’t even have a picture of them.” And they support center.
importance in this process, but this does not
may ask questions like: “Why was I aban- alter the fact that the identity core evolves from
doned?” or “Do I have any brothers or sisters?” the family. It is not surprising that adolescence
Adolescents want definite information about why is a time when heightened desire to search for
WANT TO READ MORE!!
and how they came to be relinquished as well as birthparents surfaces. Adopted adolescents, in Order your book today! Call us at
concrete facts about the people who brought their search for self, reactivate in the adoptive 301-593-9200 or visit the C.A.S.E.
them into this world. parents the powerful realization that the birth- bookstore at www.adoptionsupport.org
THANK YOU The Blazing Event
Blazing Event 2, the rock and roll fundraiser, was again Electrical Company; JPI; Three Brothers Pizza and
FOR HELPING a great success! Over 300 parents, friends and profes- Wachovia! We also want to thank all those individuals
US WITH THESE sionals danced the night away to the music of Larry and companies that donated auction items – over 100
SUCCESSFUL and the Flames, featuring Dr. Bill Stixrud. This year’s items were on display including a stay in the Bahamas.
theme, “remembering the movies of the 60s and 70s”,
FUNDRAISERS: gave Indian Spring Country Club the air of Hollywood Fashion Show - C.A.S.E. hosted a champagne
that included our very own red carpet. C.A.S.E. thanks luncheon and show featuring springtime fashions by
the following sponsors for their generous contributions Chico’s and shoes from Zelaya of Bethesda; held at the
which ensured the event’s success: Bignell, Watkins illustrious Kenwood Golf and Country Club, Bethesda,
and Hasser Architects; Ferris, Baker, Watts; Freestate Maryland. Thank you!
You Can Make a Difference
Raising money to provide vital counseling, education and resources to children and adoptive families
DO YOU LIKE GOLF? This is where YOU come in. Pledge to SAVE THE DATE!
Do you enjoy watching donate 1 cent, 2 cents, 3 cents, nickel, C.A.S.E.’s 4th Annual Golf Benefit
the PGA Tour golfers dime or more for every birdie scored by Tournament is scheduled for Friday,
in tournaments like the the PGA TOUR golfers during the Booz September 30, 2005 and will be played
Booz Allen Classic? Allen Classic and support C.A.S.E. It's at Indian Springs Country Club in Silver
Of course! fun, AND you could be a winner! All Springs, Maryland. Last year was a
pledges are entered into a drawing for smashing success. Help us do it again
You would enjoy it even more knowing that fabulous prizes including a car! this year! Check our website for more
for every birdie shot in the tournament
information on sponsorship opportunities.
YOU are doing something important. You’ll Visit our website and click on the link
Contact Valerie at 301-593-9200 for
be helping adopted kids and their families under Special Events!
receive the vital services they need from the
award-winning staff at The Center for DESIGNATE #2773
Adoption Support and Education, Inc. Support C.A.S.E. in both the United Way
(C.A.S.E.). C.A.S.E. provides important and combined Federal Campaigns! Tell
post-adoption counseling and educational your friends and family. These contribu- DONATE YOUR CAR
services to families and the community. tions will help us continue to provide If you want to get rid of that clunker sitting
The 2005 Booz Allen Classic Birdies for specialized services to all adoptive in the driveway or know someone who
Charity DRIVE SUCCESS for Washington, families. Also, ask your employer if they does, contact Daphne at (301) 593-9200.
Maryland, and Virginia Charities, June 6th offer an employee matching incentive It is quick and easy. This tax deductible
– June 12th program. That’s like doubling your gift donation also includes boats, motorcycles
to C.A.S.E. It’s easy and it helps! and RVs.
Connections Highlights: The highly respected and award winning staff
Madeleine Krebs (left),
recognized for her outstanding at C.A.S.E. is in high demand and they have been busy
service with Board member presenting workshops, discussions, and training sessions.
These are a just a few of the highlights:
• Debbie Riley, “Beneath the Mask,” Kinship Center,
In the Spotlight 2005 Nancy Dworkin Award for Salinas, CA
Outstanding Service Youth in Child Advocacy • Ellen Singer, “What is Adoption” discussion with
grades K-3, Hearst Elementary School, DC
Madeleine Krebs, LCSW-C, Clinical Coordinator for C.A.S.E., is the reci-
• Ellen Singer, “W.I.S.E. Up!,” Green Acres School,
pient of this years’ Nancy Dworkin Award for Outstanding Service Youth in
Rockville, MD; “W.I.S.E. UP!,” at Catholic Charities,
Child Advocacy. Ms. Krebs has over 34 years of experience working with
Ellicott City, MD
children, adolescents and their families. She has worked extensively with
foster and adopted children and has assisted in the development of treatment • LaVoyce Reid and Debbie Riley, “Beneath the Mask”,
programs for children who have experienced early trauma, grief and loss. Adoptive Family Preservation project, Richmond &
Her abounding energy and ability to work with kids at their level enhances
• Debbie Riley, “Supporting Adopted Children”, MD
her success. Colleagues describe her as a skilled clinician that always has
Coalition for Children’s Mental Health, Columbia, MD
the child’s best interest at heart. Parents have described her as a lifesaver –
• Valerie Kunsman, at the National Children’s Mental
a therapist who goes beyond the call of duty to support and champion the
Health Summit Day, sponsored by the Montgomery
rights of her most difficult clients. Please join us as we congratulate our
County Department of Health and Human Services,
colleague for her well deserved honor!
Spring/Summer 2005 Schedule - Groups and Workshops
SILVER SPRING SILVER SPRING and BETHESDA, MD and BURKE,VA
Monday, June 6, 2005 THE KIDS ADOPTION NETWORK (K.A.N.) GROUPS ARE NOW FORMING.
7:00-9:00 p.m. Our 8-week program continues to bring together children from many adoptive backgrounds for
BENEATH THE MASK: UNDERSTANDING fun activities in a safe place to learn and share. Both in Silver Spring and Bethesda, grades 2-7.
ADOPTED TEENS Contact Valerie for information and to register at 301-593-9200.
Parents, please join C.A.S.E. Executive Director,
and author, Debbie Riley in a discussion about the K.A.N. TEEN GROUPS NOW FORMING FOR SUMMER
“extra-layers” of challenges faced by adopted Group discussion centers on the common concerns challenging adopted adolescents as
teens. Using highlights from her book “Beneath outlined in the six themes of adoption in the excerpt from Ms. Riley’s new book, Beneath the
the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens”, she will Mask. Issues addressed include: identity, birth parents, sexuality, relationships. Call Valerie
share important ways parents can provide support for information at 301-593-9200.
and guidance to their teens. Learn the six most
common hurdles for the adopted adolescent in Silver Spring, Maryland
their quest for identity. This valuable discussion Teen Groups will be led by Debbie Riley, M.S., Executive Director of C.A.S.E.
will include a book signing by Ms. Riley. $35 per
person/family. Call Ayanna to pre-register Burke, Virginia
301-593-9200. Teen Groups will be led by LaVoyce Reid, LCSW.
Thursday, June 9, 2005
TALKING WITH CHILDREN ABOUT ADOPTION
For more information see
Our most requested workshop! the C.A.S.E. website,
Ellen Singer, LCSW-C will help parents establish www.adoptionsupport.org.
comfortable, effective communication within the
family about adoption. Focusing primarily on ages
3-12, you will learn how to share your child’s
adoption story, even difficult information, and
adapt it to their developmental stage. SPACE IS LIMITED, PLEASE
$20 per person/family, child care for ages 3 and up CALL TO PRE-REGISTER
available - $10 per child. Contact Ayanna at 301-
593-9200 to pre-register. FOR ALL WORKSHOPS
Visit C.A.S.E.’s Website!
Silver Spring, MD
ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED
The Center For Adoption Support and Education, Inc.
11120 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Member Child Welfare League of America
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