What is an Adoption Competent Mental Health Practice?

If you are a person who has experienced adoption, be it an adoptee or an adoptive parent, you will want a professional who has been trained in adoption competency.  But, what exactly does “adoption competency” mean?

Adoption is nothing new, and it was happening during Bible times.  Adoption in America has looked differently through the ages.  And, while we have made many great improvements and learned from old practices and beliefs, we still are improving with laws, policies, and processes as time goes on and we learn more.  An adoption competent therapist will be familiar with the early adoption roots, like orphan trains, baby farming, and placing out and they will understand where beliefs have come from and been woven into our society’s way of thinking about adoption.  An adoption competent therapist will also understand the ways that adoption has evolved has impacted specific populations, such as African American or Black, Native Americans, and children from other countries.

An adoption competent therapist knows that most adoptive parents are successful in parenting their children, and they also know that adopted families have an elevated need for mental health services due to various reasons.  They also know there is a huge lack of awareness around adoption issues, and this is a part of the mental health problem when serving families.  Adoptive families, both the parents, children and even other members of the family, have such as host of complex issues surrounding the adoption.  Parents may not even always understand the implications of children’s adverse experiences or their own issues, such as grief, that are compiled into the situation.  An adoption competent therapist will explore all these avenues with the family, together and individually.

Finally, an adoption competent mental health service providers knows what is helpful to adoptive families and what isn’t, unlike other mental health providers who may have very limited training or experience working with adoptive family issues.  A therapist will have specific clinical work prior to adoption, during the process, and after finalization that they adhere too, with some flexibility, of course.  Follow along with the blog posts, as the next blog post will cover the Adoption Competent Practice Principles.

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