Barb Franck, LCSW-C, received her undergraduate degree in English and Art History from Florida State University. She earned her Master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Maryland, and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Barb has over 20 years’ experience working with youth and families, both as an adoption-competent therapist and as the former Clinical Director of an agency providing wraparound services to families raising children with emotional and behavioral challenges. She has extensive experience in the field of adoption and specializes in issues of grief and loss, identity, diversity, and transracial adoption. Barb is an adoptive mother of two.
Barb is in the therapist spotlight for March! Below, she provides how being an adoptive parent has influenced her professional career as an adoption-competent therapist:
Q: How does being an adoptive parent influence and/or impact your work as a therapist working with adoptive and foster families?
A: My practice and my children have grown up alongside each other. My training as a therapist began a couple of years before I became a parent with the adoption of my first child. That was almost 30 years ago. My parenting and my practice have been paths crisscrossing each other while generally running in similar directions. Each has impacted and informed the other, yet each remains its own distinct part of my life.
As an adoptive parent who is also a therapist working with foster and adoptive families, I strive to use my personal experience as the source of empathy and compassion for my clients while being aware of and responsive to each families’ unique story and relationship dynamics.
I know through my own personal experience some of the challenges adoptive families face in developing a sense of shared inter-connectedness within the family, as they also grapple with the perceptions and misperceptions of others about what it means to be an adoptive family.
Through my personal experience and training, I know that as adoptive parents, there are times when we are completely attuned to our children — and then times when we seem to be speaking completely different languages. Being out of sync with our children is deeply concerning. We may not even be aware that we have entered a phase of disconnect with our children. We believe that our communication with our children is crystal clear – whether it be about our expectations of them or things we want them to learn, and that they understand us perfectly. However, we come to find that instead, our children are experiencing and responding to something completely different.
The most common reason for these disconnects with our children, also known as a lack of “inter-subjectivity” can be traced back to our children’s histories of trauma and unresolved adoption-related concerns. My hope is that I can help the families that I work with to experience safety and shared curiosity to better understand each other and embark on repairing their relationships.