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This brief practitioner resource aimed at front line staff provides valuable advice on working with couples who have adopted children. Recent research has shown that adoptive couples face particular strains in family life which can impact on their own relationship.

Tavistock Relationships has produced this important new guide in our series which offers particular guidance and insights for practitioners working in the adoption sector. Download the guide it here.

Couples Who Adopt: A Guide to Helping Adoptive Couples aims to assist professionals in identifying the concerns and challenges faced by couples who are in the process of adopting or have adopted children and suggest ways of identifying ways to help and support these families .

The guide draws on  70 years’ worth of experience that Tavistock Relationships has  developed  in working with couples, combined with the direct knowledge gained from a year long project providing  relationship support to adoptive parents, as part of a programme funded by the Department for Education.

The innovative programme of support  moved the emphasis beyond a primary focus on mothers and parenting to encompass the couple’s relationship in order to improve outcomes for adoptive children. Couples were provided with therapeutic support over a period of between 16 and 20 weeks, with a choice of group or couple sessions. The goal of the programme was to strengthen the couple’s bond and co-parenting, allowing them to concentrate on building or growing their family in a happy and harmonious way. Adoptive parents came to the service because of the unique stresses adopting children can place on relationships.

The results of the programme showed that parents truly appreciated having a safe space to communicate and this resulted in better relationships and improvements in wellbeing both for children and adults. Some adoption placements that were on the brink of breakdown were salvaged. Amongst the overwhelmingly positive comments, one set of parents suggested that the service had been so helpful it should be available for all parents who adopt. The guide outlines some of the learning about adoptive couples and their relationships and how to support them and is free to download here and we hope it will be of immense interest, to social workers, health visitors, Local Authority children’s teams, adoption agencies and anyone working with Adoptive parents.

Susanna Abse, CEO of Tavistock Relationships said: 

“Adopting a child is one of the most rewarding things a couple can do but equally  one of  the most challenging and life changing . The dynamics of family life change completely and that inevitably impacts on a couple’s relationship. There was a recognised need to support couples post adoption which is why this work was commissioned by DfE and we hope this guide will provide an invaluable resource of practical guidance and knowledge which will help grow the development of relationship support services for adoptive parents. We think it moves the conversation on to show how important it is for  those who work with adoptive families to be aware of the different focus required to help parents with their  relationships and therefore (most crucially)  helping adoptive children, improving their life chances.”