UPR Río Piedras conducts first study on needs of minors up for adoption
By John McPhaul
The Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) has conducted the island’s first study on the socio-emotional needs of minors up for adoption, the institution announced Tuesday in a written statement.
The research was carried out through the Affective Bonding and Services Studies project, based on the campus, under the direction of professor and researcher Sylvia Martínez Mejías, in collaboration with the Adoption Unit of the island Family Department.
“We identify the needs of minors, both from the perspective of caregivers and from the perspective of minors,” said Martínez Mejías, who authored the study. “The needs that [minors] have to maintain their ties with some family members, especially siblings, were identified.”
Martínez Mejías, along with a team of doctoral students and professor David Pérez Carrasquillo of the social sciences faculty, who served as a research consultant, revealed and generated recommendations on the socio-emotional needs of children and adolescents under the custody of the Family Department. Likewise, the preliminary results were shared during the department’s Adoption Congress in November.
Recommendations include providing psychotherapeutic services that address trauma and separation issues, fostering the talents and interests of minors through extracurricular and socialization activities, addressing needs from the minors’ perspective, orienting caregivers on the life history of the minors and providing family therapy to work on the integration of the minor with the adoptive family.
“This research provides the opportunity to take into account the socio-emotional needs of children and adolescents before being adopted. This context presents particular challenges due to the emotional deficiencies, early separations, abandonments and losses that these children have experienced,” said Juliana Seda Raffucci, one of the doctoral students in clinical psychology from the Río Piedras campus who collaborated in study. “One of the greatest contributions was to identify the importance of the relationship with their caregivers to promote their socio-emotional development and their bond with a new family.”
“The study also reveals the need to consider their life history to put their behaviors in context, and to work with their affections as a result of the experiences they have had to live, beyond their diagnostic labels,” she added.
The team of doctoral students who contributed to the research was made up of Seda Raffucci, Angélica Mena Albors, Emmanuel Peña Serrano, Corina Delfino Blanco, Keiliany Rivera Santiago, Patricia Aponte Rosa, Viviana Rosado de Medeiros, Kariana Rodríguez Rosado, Gabriela Soto Ríos and Paola Figueroa Carrasquillo.
As a result of the observations, two other phases emerged, which occurred simultaneously with the investigation, consisting of training for professionals and individual and family psychotherapy services for the children who were to be adopted.
The training was offered on the subject of attachment, and was certified in 18 hours of continuing education for the 62 social workers assigned to the Family Department’s Adoption Unit who took the workshops.