Is Adoption Counseling Right for Us?

by | Sep 21, 2022 | Adoptive Families Blog

An adoption therapist describes helpful tools to her clientAdoption comes with unique challenges, and it is for this reason that some hopeful parents choose adoption counseling. Many qualified therapists are available as you walk through your adoption journey.
Seeking the help of a licensed counselor is a valuable tool to help you address the challenges and feelings you’re encountering. In addition, adoption counseling ensures you’re fully prepared for the arrival of your sweet child.

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Why do couples get adoption counseling?

For some hopeful adoptive families, the wait begins to drag. Days and days without news can lead to anxiety, fear, and grief. Adoption can be filled with unexpected events that can squeeze you emotionally.
Even if you feel your mental health is in good condition, don’t hesitate to get adoption counseling if you’re struggling. Here are just a few examples of situations where adoptive couples have gotten counseling:

  • Marriage issues that seem to appear out of nowhere (or are amplified by the adoption process)
  • Finding a sense of loss for the unfulfilled hope of pregnancy
  • Feeling as if it’s time to give up
  • Anxiety over the process of becoming parents, especially when compared to friends who can conceive biologically
  • Disagreement over adoption goals or preferences
  • Experiencing a reclaim or failed match

Lifetime Adoption has found that it’s common for adoptive parents to need adoption counseling. You don’t need to feel embarrassed or surprised that you need help outside of yourselves.
No matter your struggle, please know that you don’t have to go through it alone and without help. Seek out extra support from a counseling service if it’s needed.

How do we know if we need counseling?

One of your first questions might surround the necessity of adoption counseling. Is it for you? Do you need therapy?
Therapy can benefit adoptive couples in so many ways. You may need a shoulder to lean on or an ear to vent to as you work through the next steps.
Waiting for a birth mother to choose you can be difficult. Many people feel that there is so much to do and yet not enough to do. A therapist can help you build coping skills to get through the wait. Group therapy also helps you find others in a similar situation to find support.
You may also find that building a relationship with a therapist now will prove helpful in the future. After you bring a child into your home, you may still benefit from the support and services of a professional who understands adoption.

How can adoption counseling help our family?

Adoption counseling can address many concerns you might have. No matter the size of your family or its current circumstances, adoption is a major shift. Waiting to adopt is also a significant experience, and you should not just ignore your feelings while you wait.
These are just a few of the ways a therapist can help your family before adoption:

  • Therapists can help you cope with the wait for a child and the emotions that come with it.
  • Therapists help your children cope with the wait for a new brother or sister.
  • Therapists help parents adjust to the future changes that adoption will bring, like the open adoption arrangement with their child’s birth parents.
  • Therapists help prospective parents ensure they are making the right choice for the family.
  • Therapists connect potential adoptive parents with support groups and other resources.

As you can see, therapists perform a lot of services for each member of the family. Adoption is a complex matter that may require distinct types of support for different members of the family.

What types of adoption counseling are available?

These are just a few of the kinds of counseling available:

  • Family Therapy – Family therapy considers the needs of the group and the needs of each individual.
  • Group Therapy – Group therapy brings together small groups of people with similar issues. The goal is to build support among a group and allow each member to see how others cope with related adoption issues.
  • Solo Therapy – Individual therapy often uses techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma-informed therapy to help people heal and develop positive patterns in thought, behavior, and communication.

Cropped shot of a couple holding hands during couples therapy while the counselor looks onPre-adoption services or adoption support can address many concerns you have. No matter the size of your family or its current circumstances, adoption is a major shift. Waiting to adopt is also a significant experience, and you should not just ignore your feelings while you wait.
As you can see, therapists perform a lot of services for each member of the family. Adoption is a complex matter that may require distinct types of support for different members of the family.

How can you find a good adoption counselor?

Begin by looking into your health insurance to identify if specific providers are covered. Also, ask your physician for referrals to trained professionals in your area. You may not find counselors who are trained to deal with the specific issues of adoption, but most any Marriage and Family Counselor will be able to help you.
Ask for referrals from people you trust. For example, they could be adoption professionals you have worked with or other parents who adopted. If you already work with a therapist, you might ask if they can provide you with information about a counselor with adoption experience.
Certain therapists are more suitable for adoption-related concerns than others. According to the Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Information Gateway, therapists who work with adoption should be well-versed in attachment, loss, and trauma. The adoption journey itself can feel both extremely rewarding and tumultuous. You want your therapist to have some experience and knowledge about the things you may experience during this time.

Help is Available

Adoption can be a huge adjustment. Don’t struggle alone. There’s no shame in getting adoption counseling if you need it.
Your healing journey can start today. While finding the right therapist may feel like a minor struggle, the process can bring your family amazing rewards. Emotional fulfillment is available for everybody, and therapy can be part of your story. It’s a great way to get the help you need.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 23, 2020, and has since been updated. 

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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