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Social Work Today
E-Newsletter    April 2024
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Editor's E-Note

Technology, from the internet to DNA testing, has forever changed the way information about adoption is obtained and shared, raising ethical and clinical challenges. Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, and Deborah H. Siegel, PhD, LICSW, DCSW, ACSW, look at the issues.

We welcome your comments at SWTeditor@gvpub.com. Visit our website at www.SocialWorkToday.com, like our Facebook page, and follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter.

— Kate Jackson, editor
In This E-Newsletter


E-News Exclusive
Adoption Challenges in the Digital Age: Ethical and Clinical Issues

By Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, and Deborah H. Siegel, PhD, LICSW, DCSW, ACSW

Massive changes in today’s digital world confront everyone touched by adoption. This includes the birth mother and father, adoptee, and adoptive parents, along with the birth and adoptive parents’ extended families, social workers, lawyers, health care personnel, friends, neighbors, classmates, teachers, and others who have knowledge about the adoptee’s birth and adoptive families. Adoption is no longer what was once known as a “triad” composed of the adoptee, birth parent, and adoptive parent. Rather, it’s a “circle,” ever enlarging due to robust internet search engines, online social networking, social media, texting, email, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital tools that affect members of the adoption circle from the preadoption planning phase onward.

Today, all people in the adoption circle can easily access online information about others in that circle and seek contact with them without the other person’s knowledge, consent, or active participation. This is possible using search engines and email messages from direct-to-consumer DNA testing services such as 23andMe and Ancestry (via email messages that invite the consumer to connect with yet unknown biological relatives). Using online social media such as Facebook, a person can share private information about another person without the other’s consent. AI has opened Pandora’s box filled with opportunities to misrepresent reality (for example, generating sanitized adoption ads) or someone else’s thoughts and voice.

Other Social Work News
In an article in The British Journal of Social Work, Paul Michael Garrett of the University of Galway School of Political Science and Sociology in Ireland, asks, “What are we talking about when we are talking about ‘decolonizing’ social work?”

Addressing Trauma and Incarceration
Santa Clara University School of Law reports on the work of Keith Wattley, whose organization UnCommon Law is working toward transformation of the US penal system, focusing on the rehabilitation of inmates and healing from trauma.

What’s Politics Got to Do With Mental Health?
An opinion piece in El Paso Matters looks at the timely topic of the influence of politics on physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Bridging a Gap
In Santa Monica, California, a program called Lead (leadership, engagement, action, and discovery) is reducing recidivism rates and helping law enforcement and youth together develop a positive relationship. Santa Monica Daily Press reports on the program’s success.


Products & Services
Mental Health Book for Children
Social worker Casey Hersch, LCSW, has created a resource for children, parents, teachers, and therapists—I Am Pawso: A Cat Teaches Kids Ways to Turn Around Difficult Situations—that shows children how to use their inner resources and unique gifts. Learn more »

Help for the Grieving
Seasons of Grief: Creative Interventions to Support Bereaved People, edited by Claudia Coenen, includes easy-to-use exercise guides and activities that invite readers to explore the changeable nature of grief through the ebb and flow of the seasons. Learn more »

How Health Care Fails Mentally Ill Patients
In American Madness: Fighting for Patients in a Broken Mental Health System, clinical psychiatrist Alice Feller, MD, tells the story of her struggle to help her patients in a broken mental health care system, using patient vignettes and personal accounts of her five decades of work, drawn from medical school, hospital wards, private practice, public clinics, and beyond. Individual chapters explore the impact on outcomes of homelessness, substance abuse, racism, family involvement, and early intervention for people with schizophrenia. Learn more »
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