This workshop guide is intended to stimulate a focused discussion on the issues of adoption, loss/grief, identity and the search process using the documentary, FIRST PERSON PLURAL, as a springboard for dialogue. The workshop guide can be used by adoptee, adoptive family, and birth family support groups, as well as by adoption agencies providing pre and post-adoption services.
The group facilitator will first introduce the goals of the workshop and the film. The group will then watch the film together and follow the exercises and discussion outlined below. The total estimated workshop time is 2 hours including time allotted for viewing the film.
In the adoption community, many professionals live in multiple roles as Social Workers, Adult Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents. While watching this film, please select one of these roles as your primary viewpoint for discussion purposes.
After viewing the film, participants should break up into small groups of 4-5 people.
Small Group Discussion #1: 15-20 mins.
Briefly introduce yourselves, your role/s in the adoption community and the one you selected for your viewpoint. Select a recorder/reporter for your group.
1. The issues of grief and loss are woven throughout the film. What were some of the signs that indicated Deann was grieving, even as a young child? Teenager? Young adult? In what ways did the other family members respond/process grief and loss?
2. Many adoptees struggle with dual loyalties when they begin the search process. How did Deann confront and resolve this issue?
3. Deann had a difficult time developing a positive racial identity. What did
you observe in the film that reflected this? How did her "family" help/impede this process?
Reconvene into the large group to process: 10-15 mins.
Each small group reporter should share their groups insights/responses to the film and questions.
Small Group Discussion #2: 15 mins.
Practice Implications Discussion
The purpose of this section is to enable participants to integrate the group discussions and the insights they have gained from watching the film into their daily "work" as parents, adoptees or social workers.
Assume your selected roles:
1. What role could an agency have played in Deanns family as they went through this process? At what times could an agency have been the most effective and supportive?
2. What reactions did you have to the "mistake" that was made regarding Deanns records and background? How would you respond to this issue?
3. What are the responsibilities of each person, i.e. Adoptive Parent, Agency, Adoptee, Birth Parent, in the development of the adoptees racial or cultural identity? Give specific suggestions on how these might be implemented.
4. What do families and adoptees need when they are in the search process?
Reconvene into the large group: 10-15 mins.
As a large group, brainstorm a wish list of suggestion or ideas that adoption agencies or groups could use as they evaluate and develop their services.
As a closing exercise, ask the participants to fill in the blanks:
"In this workshop I realized
..now I will