Blended families with additional challenges

Maureen Donley, Adoptive Mom & Therapist, shares advice for blended families with additional adopted children on how to overcome common challenges
Issues Facing Blended & Adoptive Families
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Blended families with additional challenges

The most common issue for blended families, that is families that have both biological and adopted children, is that if there is an obvious difference, such as if the adoption was transracial or international or if there are obvious coloring differences, say that an adopted child is a brunette in a family of blondes, then both you and your children will begin to notice that other people are maybe looking at you a little bit longer than normal and clearly trying to figure out what's going on. Often that will extend beyond just a look to sometimes very pointed questions about how much did she cost? Where did she come from? And your children will be approached directly. Are you real siblings? What happened to your real parents? So that is a primary phenomenon that blended families encounter. Also sibling rivalry gains an added dimension because for some reason adoption is still considered more of a choice than pregnancy. And if transracial adoption has touched your family, then you all will be engaging the issue of race and discrimination.

Maureen Donley, Adoptive Mom & Therapist, shares advice for blended families with additional adopted children on how to overcome common challenges


Expert Bio

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Maureen Donley, MA, MFT

Adoptive Mom & Therapist

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Maureen's practice spans all ages and holds a focus in creative professionals, adoption and trauma work.  She earned her MA in Clinical Psychology with a Child Studies specialization from Antioch University in Los Angeles. She has also worked as a Counselor in both K-8 and high school settings and is finishing her third year as a Counselor at the Southern California Counseling Center working with individuals, families and couples. She completed the Family Training Program Certification there, and will hold both TRM and EMDR trauma certifications in July 2013. In addition, she is working with Jeanette Yoffe in a monthly adoption support group on the Westside, as part of her new non-profit, The Celia Foundation, dedicated to all members of the adoption constellation. Maureen also facilitates both parenting and adolescent groups at Dr. Bonnie Goldstein’s Center for Psychological Services on the Westside. 

Before joining the psychology field, Maureen's first love was the arts.  As a producer and studio exec, she was part of the Feature Animation team at Disney during the Renaissance years of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Toy Story. Maureen subsequently had a production deal at Fox under which the animated feature Anastasia was released. Prior to moving to Los Angeles to join the Mermaid team, she was based in New York City.  While there, she was on the faculty at The Juilliard School (Drama Division), and was a visiting professional for the Yale School of Drama. Maureen worked on many theatrical productions as a stage manager including the Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie with Jessica Tandy, the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Pump Boys and Dinettes and the 1st and 2nd National Tours of Cats in Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. She says, "being part of telling timeless tales was great preparation for helping people discover the true stories of their own lives."


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