What do adoption-competent therapists do?
An adoption-competent therapist will recognize the unique challenges faced by adoptive families and adults who were adopted as children. They will not blame adoption
for everything that goes wrong in an adoptee’s life, but they also will not invalidate the complexities of their experience nor ignore the effects adoption may have had on an individual’s development. They typically are familiar with trauma-informed approaches, cultural competence—especially important in cases of transracial adoption—and attachment issues.
When should an adoptee see a therapist? Adoptees with trauma histories or those who find themselves struggling with persistent identity issues, fears that they are unloved or unwanted, or substance abuse may be especially likely to benefit from therapy. However, because adoption is such a significant life event, even adoptees without such experiences may benefit from exploring their often-complex feelings about their origins and their adoption.
What is the best therapy for adoption issues? The type of therapy best suited to treating adoption issues depends on many factors—including who is seeking care (adoptive parents vs. the adoptees themselves), the specific issues requiring treatment (for example, pre-adoption trauma, bonding/attachment issues, substance use, or behavioral disorders), and the client’s own goals and preferences. Play therapy, somatic therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy, among others, can be used to treat adoption-related challenges.
Can you overcome adoption trauma with therapy?
Some adopted children suffer abuse or neglect
before or after being adopted, while others who were not overtly mistreated may still suffer immense emotional distress as a result of being separated from their birth family. Like other forms of trauma, these challenges can often be effectively managed with therapy. Art therapy, EMDR, and other forms of trauma- and adoption-informed therapy may be especially beneficial.