The author uses a clinical case study, in which he works with a teenager and his adoptive parents to illustrate how placement and adoption decisions can provide physical safety while at the same time exacerbating and extending overlooked and destructive effects of child abuse. The case study highlights the continuing impact of childhood trauma on the interpersonal patterns of behavior within the family, whether biological, kinship, foster or adoptive. The tendency for patterns of aggression and reactivity to be repeated by the victim and his or her caregivers in a foster or adoptive home, and then to extend into the next generation, is an integral aspect of the cycle of child abuse and underscores a critical challenge for skilled and patient staff in family-based service programs.

Author Biography

Dr. Roger Friedman is a psychologist and clinical social worker who grew up in Texas and has been in clinical practice in Maryland for 30 years. Since 1984, he’s also consulted with and trained child welfare staff in family-based practice across the country, and helped implement state-wide Family Preservation programs in Texas, Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. As part-owner and Director of Echo Hill Ranch Children’s Camp in Texas, he organized the first Family Camp for Kinship Care Families in the country during the summer of 2011. He currently is Adjunct Faculty at the University Of Maryland Graduate School Of Social Work, and has authored many articles on family-centered practice and systems reform in child welfare programs. He serves as an editor of the Journal for Family Strengths.

Responses to this Article:

Vincent J. Geremia, Considering the Consequences of Child Welfare Service Decisions (November 2011)