After eight long years of rock-busting in conventional counseling practices, Melanie Wells founded The LifeWorks Group in 1999 to offer clients a fresh, innovative approach to the everyday problems of life. Since that inauspicious beginning (we had two pleather chairs, a broken copier and about $7 in the bank) LifeWorks has trained hundreds of interns and helped tens of thousands... Read More
Adoption is a process of growth for many families; but also, a time for grieving.
For many adoptive parents, the decision to adopt follows a lengthy and emotionally devastating battle with infertility. For birthmothers, the grieving process is a lifelong battle of letting go. And for adoptees, the perceived abandonment of being “given up” for adoption can sting well into adulthood—despite the depth of genuine affection that adoptees feel for their adoptive parents.
However, while the adoption process is tinged with grief, the sense of loss shouldn’t overshadow the hope that adoption brings to many families: Approximately 130,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, delivering unconditional love to many children who previously resided in unstable home environments, the foster care system, or foreign nations.
Unfortunately, conquering the “red tape” of the adoption paperwork is merely one of many preliminary challenges that adoptive parents and their adoptees will face. From tackling problematic behaviors at home or school, to instilling a lifelong sense of belonging in your child, our Lifeologie team understands that family connectedness isn’t an automatic—but rather—a gradual journey, which your family embarks upon the moment that you say “I do” to the adoption process.
Detailed below are 7 relevant counseling issues that are commonly explored by adoptive parents, adopted children, and their birthmothers during the pre- and post- adoption process:
Preparing for Adoption: Discussing the possibility of adoption with your partner, or exploring the legal parameters of a single parent adoption; Selecting an adoption agency (whether public, private, domestic, or international) or an adoption attorney; Prepping for home studies and acing the high-pressure paperwork; Picking out your little (or not so little) squirt; Bracing yourself to become a first-time parent (!!!) or preparing your biological children for a new brother or sister
Birthmother Grief: Making the decision to place your biological child for adoption; Having your child removed from your custody by Child Protective Services; Confronting grief or regret; Deciding the degree of “openness” for your child’s adoption; Meeting with your biological child for the first time and forging a healthy, on-going relationship
Issues for Special Adoptive/Adoptee Populations
Abuse Issues: Many adopted children experience physical/sexual/emotional abuse or neglect prior to their adoption, either by birthparents or through inappropriate foster home placements. Counseling services for abuse recovery can encourage your child to initiate the healing process from abuse/neglect; repair damaged trust in adult or authority figures; and conquer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (distressing symptoms of agitation, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and aggression that sometimes accompany abuse)
Behavioral Issues: Resulting from increased exposure to abuse/neglect, adopted children also experience elevated incidences of certain behavioral difficulties. Common attachment and behavioral issues addressed in therapy include:
Identity & Belonging Issues: Assisting your child to explore his or her biological roots; Ensuring your child that his or her interest in birthparents and birth circumstances isn’t a betrayal of your love; Overcoming related sensations of rejection, abandonment, anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem in adoptive children; Enabling your child to succeed socially and bracing your child to confront bullying or uncomfortable questions about being adopted
Aging Out Issues: Children who “age” out of the foster system at 18 are more likely to experience adverse outcomes in adulthood, including incarceration, homelessness, unemployment, substance use, or assault. Similarly, children who linger in the system until adolescence or more likely to encounter unfavorable outcomes than children who are adopted at a younger age. Beat the odds for your child or yourself (for former foster kids older than 18) and cope with the added layer of rejection that comes along with aging out or being an older adoptee.
By now, you’ve probably guessed it: Adoption is one of the most complex therapy topics that any family or individual can tackle. Luckily, you don’t have to solve all of the intricate problems that birthmothers, adoptive parents, or adoptees encounter on your own. Our counselors are here to smooth out your journey. Your therapist may recommend: