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Editor's Note: Transition Truths
By Marianne Mallon
Social Work Today
Vol. 18 No. 6 P. 3

Very few, if any, life passages are totally peaceful. Whether it is birth, puberty, adulthood, marriage, divorce, aging, or death, all transitions have their challenges. It is no different for foster youths transitioning to their adoptive families.

While foster youths may be delighted to be adopted by a forever family, they have lost their original family, and their previous lives may have been a series of temporary placements fraught with trauma, abuse, and neglect. Adoption from foster care can be a passage of great joy and great sorrow. This issue's cover story explores the challenges of this transition and how social workers can help ease this passage with thoughtful and realistic preparation.

According to the author, Deborah H. Siegel, PhD, LICSW, DCSW, ACSW, social workers can help foster youths "review their life stories, exploring their understanding of and feelings about events that have happened. Misunderstandings must be clarified. The child's feelings of inadequacy, unlovability, rejection, and abandonment must be carefully acknowledged. Children need to grieve their losses, learn that those losses are not their faults and not reflections of their worth as people, no matter what sorts of behaviors the child has exhibited."

Other stories in this issue also explore truths about transitions. A feature about end-of-life care in prisons reveals the isolated reality that most prisoners face at this time, often dying alone in their cells, and how new hospice programs are changing that bleak truth for them. In U.S. prisons, individuals over 55 are the fastest growing age group, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. There are more than 1,000 state prisons, but only 75 prison hospice programs in the United States. Prison hospices provide dignified and compassionate care to dying prisoners and enrich the lives of the prisoner-volunteers who often care for them, as well as enhance the overall humanity of the facility.

A third feature examines the difficulties often faced by women transitioning from active military service to civilian life. Many female veterans encounter gender-based discrimination in benefits regarding child care, gender-related health issues, and the scourge of homelessness and suicide that their male counterparts face, but the female experience is often underaddressed.

We hope this issue will educate and inform your practice.

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Marianne Mallon