Adoption-focused counseling is unique from traditional counseling in several ways. It serves all members of the triad regardless of how a family was created that ranges from international, kinship/step-family, private, infant, CPS foster care and adoption, embryonic and in-vitro adoptions. It is important to note that adoption is not a pathology that needs to be fixed. However, it is vital that mental health professionals can help triad members recognize that there are unique aspects to consider that can impact an individual or family in many different ways. Adoption counseling may address following:
- Collaborative and relationship-based--aimed at identifying, educating and addressing the overall issues that may be unique to adoption, but may also be related to other factors. This relationship may be built between the counselor and the following: other professionals, adoptees, expectant/birth parents, adoptive parents, placing agency, etc.
- Short-term and Long-term—dependent upon the needs of the triad member(s) and recommendation by the counselor.
- Adoption-Specific—to optimize positive outcomes, counselor must be well-versed in a range of adoption-specific dynamics and issues
- Impact of institutionalization/multiple caregivers prior to adoption
- Fostering attachment
- History of trauma (abuse, neglect, abandonment)
- Developmental delays
- Transracial/transcultural adoptions
- Sibling Relationships
- Open adoption dynamics
- Parenting after placing a child for adoption
- Sharing the adoption story
- Spouses of triad members (adoptees and birth parents)
- Older child adoptions
- Complicated grief and loss associated with adoption
- Birth search and reunion
- Returning to the birth country (international adoption)
- Adoption preparation and considerations for expectant parents and adoptive families
- And much more
- Culturally Sensitive—understanding the importance of one's diversity and serving each triad members is critical regardless of ethnic, racial, religious affiliation, sexual identity/orientation, education, political stance and/or socioeconomic status.
- Family-Centered—recognizing that the entire family system is critical to the overall well-being and attunement for all involved, whoever that may involve
- Strengths Based—addressing and building upon strategies and positive abilities/qualities that one already possesses
- Reflective—The counselor builds upon what they are hearing and observing based upon expertise and experience, not just pre-conceived notions in order to reflect back to the triad members. Counseling also models and encourages triad members to use reflective thinking and model this is his/her own thought patterns.
Some of these issues may include the following: