Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month?
By, Sarah Dreyer-Oren
Psychologists can help facilitate successful adoptions by becoming competent in their knowledge of the adoption experience for both adoptive parents and adopted youth. At a basic level, studies of parents in successful foster care placements have demonstrated that for adoptive parents, formal and informal social support and pre-adoption preparation are associated with successful adoption placements.
Another factor associated with positive adoption placement outcomes is adoption openness, which allows adoptees to maintain a connection to biological families (Liao, 2016; Oke, Rostill-Brookes, & Larkin, 2013). This factor might be especially important for older youth transitioning to adulthood, who sometimes struggle with issues of identity and loss (Chamberlin, 2005). Birth parents may also need adoption-related mental health care to process their loss. For adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted children, finding a provider who has a background in adoption issues may facilitate the adoption and post-adoption process.
According to the Center for Adoption Support and Education, areas of adoption competency for psychologists include (CASE, 2016):
- Learn the theoretical framework and therapeutic approach of adoption competent mental health practice.
- Understand the legal and ethical issues that impact adoption.
- Develop clinical skills in working with birth families, children and prospective adoption parents in planning for adoption.
- Develop clinical skills in working with adopted children and youth and adoptive families on issues of loss, grief, separation, identity formation and attachment.
- Develop clinical skills in working with adopted children and youth and adoptive families on issues related to the impact of genetics and past experiences on adjustment and the psychological well-being of adopted children.
- Understand how trauma impacts adopted children and tools and techniques to support recovery from adverse beginnings.
- Develop an understanding of the racial, ethnic and cultural issues in adoption and how to work with transracial and transcultural families.
- Identify and utilize evidence-based and evidence-informed practices and interventions with individuals affected by adoption.
In addition, the following adoption resources may be useful:
General information about National Adoption Month: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about/
National Council for Adoption:
Resource for adoption mental health support and education: http://adoptionsupport.org/
Resource for adoption competency training form mental health professionals: http://adoptionsupport.org/adoption-competency-initiatives/training-for-adoption-competency-tac/about/
APA resource for psychologists on the influence of adoption on psychological practice: http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec05/adopting.aspx
Information for parents about selecting mental health providers competent in the area adoption: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_therapist.pdf
Chamberlin, J. (2005). Adopting a new American family. Monitor on Psychology, 36(11), 70-74.
Liao, M. (2016). Factors affecting post-permanency adjustment for children in adoption or guardianship placements: An ecological systems analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 66, 131-143.
Oke, N., Rostill-Brookes, H., & Larkin, M. (2013). Against the odds: Foster carers’ perceptions of family, commitment and belonging in successful placements. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, 18(1), 7-24.
Sass, D. A., & Henderson, D. B. (2000). Adoption issues: Preparation of psychologists and an evaluation of the need for continuing education. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 9(4), 349-359.
Skinner-Drawz, B. A., Wrobel, G. M., Grotevant, H. D., & Von Korff, L. (2011). The role of adoption communicative openness in information seeking among adoptees from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Journal of family communication, 11(3), 181-197.