Adoption has a lifelong impact on everyone involved – children, birth families, and adoptive families. Most families seek post adoption support at some point – whether immediately after bringing a child home or years down the road. Post adoption support can include educational resources, support groups, respite opportunities, counseling/therapy, or parent coaching.
When searching for an adoption-competent therapist, seek a professional who has an understanding of adoption related issues such as: grief and loss, trust and attachment issues, identity formation problems, and trauma. Adoption-competent therapists will understand that children who have been adopted will often face issues that are “embedded in the abuse or neglect experienced before the child was adopted”, and will understand the importance of including new family members, especially parents in the treatment process.
There are many approaches to therapy and the type of approach a parent chooses will likely change over time. These methods will change as children grow and develop and as children experience life events – such as graduating from school, moving to college, starting a job, getting married, experiencing a death in the family, or becoming parents themselves. A few types of therapy include: behavior modification, family therapy, group therapy, play therapy, cognitive therapy, trauma-informed therapy, and attachment-focused therapy.
Finding the right therapist can feel like a daunting task. Here are a few steps we recommend:
- Identify Prospective Therapists
- Online directories can make this quick and easy. One example is in the directory from the Center for Adoption Support and Education or the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner List.
- Ask your adoption or foster care agency! Most agencies have a list of local, adoption-competent therapists ready to share.
- Interview Prospective Therapists
- Many therapy practices will offer an introductory interview, but if not – ask to schedule one to ensure that this therapist will be able to provide what your family needs. Ask about the types of therapy or treatments they specialize in and do not be afraid to ask about their experience working with adoptive families.
- Some specific questions to ask may include:
- “Have you taken any courses or trainings in adoption competency?”
- “Do you prefer to work with the entire family or only with children?”
- “What is your experience working with ____ (be specific about the adoption issues your family is facing- open adoptions, transracial adoptions, children who have experienced abuse, children with attachment disorders, etc.)?”
Once you select an adoption-competent therapist and being working with them, remember that your commitment is crucial – so keep those regular appointments scheduled and maintain open lines of communication between yourself, the child, and the therapist. As always, remember that seeking any kind of post adoption support is not a sign of weakness or poor parenting, but rather a sign of commitment to permanency and supporting your child for life!
References and Additional Resources for Families: