Definition: Adoption Counselor
1. A licensed mental health professional and preferably an experienced one with a proven record of helping individuals, couples and families. Someone who has worked with children and teens as well as adults.
2. A therapeutically skilled and trained professional who is also knowledgeable of adoption issues and dynamics, experienced in working with those in the extended adoption family and passionate in his/her interest
3. An ally, a mentor, a supportive and trustworthy guide and facilitator, an objective educator who can recognize, clarify and understand the complex feelings and thoughts that all in the adoption process- the first mother, the parents, the child, siblings and relatives go through
4. A fellow traveler who has learned from his own experiences to avoid the pitfalls and obstacles which can lead to the development of serious problems
5. A co-creator who can help us develop and achieve our personal and satisfying goals and vision for the future.
What is Adoption Counseling?
The birth of a family through adoption is a creative and constructive process, healthy in nature and life enhancing in purpose. Though different in origination, the adoption family, like all families, represents mankind's greatest achievement. Unique to the family created by adoption are increased relationship complexities and emotional vulnerabilities which makes the universal challenge for health and success more daunting. Specifically is the reality that adoption families evolve out of loss- by the birth mother, the parents and the child- and such primal loss brings in its wake basic insecurity and feelings of inadequacy which have to be sensitively worked through for healthy, loving relationships to develop.
The adoption counselor helps those involved in the family of adoption work through this sometime painful process while reducing potential injuries to reach their goals more effectively than one may achieve on their own.
Although all methods of psychological and emotional help utilize interpersonal communication as it's main means of work, adoption counseling adds to and makes more effective the standard psychotherapeutic approach resulting in deeper and more far reaching results. Adoption counseling is sensitive to and considers the uniqueness of the past of those involved in the adoption process. It is designed to help with those issues particular to the adoption process as well as more general psychological concerns. By recognizing and understanding the current individual actions and relationship patterns created in reaction to basic loss and insecurity and their influence on future developments, we are better able to regulate our lives while creating a more satisfying future. When my newly arrived son surrounded his room with action figures and burst into tears lest they were moved, I understood his symbolically expressed need for security and control in a new and overwhelming situation and gave that my priority. Counseling focuses on easing the stresses of loss and transition and enhancing the quality of your life and increasing the satisfaction you get from it. When my son had his first meal with us and wanted to eat everyone's food with his own inviolate, the recognition and understanding of his need to feel nurtured, in control and at one in his new surroundings made it possible to be all the more loving and accepting. Counseling is about increasing your constructive output with clarity, understanding, control and skillfulness, reducing the impact of destructive tendencies with negative resistance resolution and working through unresolved issues with insight. Understanding that my son's aggressive behaviors were a means of communication and contact provided me with the objectivity necessary for making the right judgments. When my wife momentarily distracted me while my son was showing me a video game and he withdrew into angry sullenness, I recognized that his overwhelming fears of abandonment were reactivated and I could focus my efforts on helping him recover.
My goal is to therapeutically use my many years of training and experience as a Mental Health Professional and Adoptive Parent & Adoptee to help you with remediating the upsetting affects of the past, avoiding current developmental pitfalls and constructively building for your future
Is Adoption Counseling for Me?The road to success for adoption families is more challenging and the perils greater than that facing biological families yet the vast majority survive without serious dysfunctionality requiring intensive psychotherapy. An alliance with an adoption counselor can help prevent the development of problems, avoid pitfalls, increase awareness and understanding of emotional complexities, enhance the satisfaction of the journey and increase the likelihood of success for the family and the individuals in it.
For the vast majority, adoption counseling can be the most efficacious means of satisfying their individual and family needs and desires for help.
When is it needed?
Adoption is a lifetime process which affects us continually and in different ways as we move through different stages in our lives. Those involved in the adoption process constitute a high risk group for behavioral, emotional or relationship problems; therefore they have a special need for effective, appropriate services. When we are in a particular stage of personal and family development, counseling can help us to maximize our potentials and resolve our resistances to constructive functioning; during transitions which are fraught with anxiety and confusion it can stabilize, clarify and support and during specific crises and challenges it can enlighten and guide us to new levels of understanding and achievement. For prospective adoptive parents, counseling can be essential preparation for parenthood, for new parents it can help facilitate a smooth transition, for parents of tweens and teens and adult adoptees it can aid in understanding and ameliorating the stresses accompanying independence and separation.
Above all, the most important factor influencing satisfying and successful results is the quality of our personal relationships and it is here that adoption counseling can enhance our understanding and skills in communicating which strengthen our attachments and bonds; increases our self knowledge, brightens our self esteem and facilitates the development of plans for continued satisfying relationships throughout a lifetime. This work results in an increase in emotional intelligence and resiliency which is the biggest predictor of personal and vocational success.
The Guiding Principles
The Guiding Principles of The National Association of Adoption Counselors
ADOPTION : DEFINITION AND BELIEFS
Definition: Adoption is a means of meeting the developmental needs of a child by legally transferring ongoing parental responsibilities for that child from the birth parents to adoptive parents. The adoption process creates a new kinship network that forever links the two families through the child who is shared by both. This kinship network may also include significant other families, both formal and informal who have been a part of the child's experience.
A] The purpose of adoption is to provide children permanent, safe families that can meet their ongoing developmental needs and offer them continuity of care when the families into which they were born are unable to do so.
B] Adoption creates its own set of social and emotional conditions independent of the people involved or the other circumstances of their lives.
C] By definition, every child comes into adoption already connected to another family.
D] Adoption is a unique relationship building process that is rooted in loss but one that deepens and grows through union. It is a challenging experience for the children and parents involved, and one that will have life-long impact on the lives of all those involved.
E] Adoption adds a unique dimension of complexity to every developmental phase for the children involved and every life stage for their families.
F] Effective counseling for those in the adoption triad depends upon recognition and understanding of adoption and its impact on their lives.