During your adoption journey, you may need additional help to work through some of the emotions you face. Getting help from a licensed counselor is a great way to help you address your challenges and feelings. Also, adoption counseling will help you get fully prepared for the arrival of your sweet baby.
Why get adoption counseling?
Adopting a baby is a major life event. It’s filled with unexpected situations that can squeeze you emotionally. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to get adoption counseling. Here are some examples of situations where adoptive couples have sought counseling:
- Marriage counseling
- Feeling a sense of loss for the unfulfilled hope of pregnancy
- Anxiety about the process of becoming parents
- Comparison to friends or family members who can conceive
- Marriage issues that are amplified by the adoption process (or seem to appear out of nowhere)
- Disagreement over adoption goals or preferences
- Experiencing a reclaim or failed match
- Feeling like it’s time to give up because the wait is too long
Lifetime Adoption has found that needing adoption counseling is common for adoptive parents. You don’t need to feel embarrassed that you need help outside of yourselves. You don’t have to go through it without support, no matter your struggles. Seek out extra aid from a counseling service if it’s needed. Adoption agencies like Lifetime can help find you find a skilled counselor to help you work through these issues.
How do we know if we need it?
Sometimes it takes work to know exactly what you need. So here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if you need adoption counseling:
- Am I feeling more fearful than excited about adoption?
- Do I have unanswered questions that I haven’t asked out of fear of what people will say?
- Am I struggling with the idea of a stranger’s child joining our family, but I haven’t told anyone?
- Am I worried about my marriage when we adopt?
- Am I worried about my other kids when we adopt?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could be helpful to seek help.
What does adoption counseling do?
No matter your family’s current circumstances or size, adoption is a major shift. Waiting to be chosen by a birth mother as her baby’s parents is also a significant experience. You should not ignore your feelings while waiting. Here are some things adoption counseling therapists can do to help you address your concerns:
- Shoulder to lean on: Therapy gives adoptive parents someone to vent to as they work through the steps toward adoption.
- Help while you wait: Waiting for birth parents to choose you can be hard. A therapist can help you build coping strategies to follow throughout the wait.
- For the future: You may find that seeing a therapist now will prove helpful later. After you bring your baby home, you may still benefit from the services of a professional who understands your adoption journey.
- For your children: Adoption counselors often use play therapy to help kids talk about their worries or concerns about a new sibling.
Talking with a therapist can help you get ready for the future changes that adoption will bring. They may also be able to connect you to support groups and other resources if needed. Since adoption is complex, different members of your family may require distinct types of support.
What types of counseling are available?
- Individual Therapy often uses techniques like trauma-informed therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists seek to help people develop positive patterns in thought, behavior, and communication.
- Family Therapy considers the needs of the group as well as the needs of each family member.
- Group Therapy involves small groups of people with similar issues. This should build support among the group and allow you to see how others cope with similar adoption issues.
How can we find a good counselor?
Lifetime can provide you with a list of recommended adoption counselors. But you may prefer to find your own adoption counseling expert. Here are some suggestions for finding a good adoption counselor:
- Ask for referrals from those you trust. Try asking your adoption professionals or your family doctor.
- If you already work with a therapist, ask if they can recommend a counselor with adoption experience.
- Talk to other parents who chose adoption.
- Call your insurance company for affordable or in-network recommendations.
Help is Available
Adoption can be a major life adjustment. There’s no shame in getting counseling if you need it, so don’t struggle alone.
Many birth parents, adopted children, and adoptive parents have sought adoption counseling. Therapy is a great way to get the help you need.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”