A common issue faced by members of the adoption triad is a lack of healthcare professionals who truly understand their needs. Adoptees, Birthparents, and Adoptive Parents can face unique challenges related to their adoption experience. When visiting health care professionals such as therapists, psychologists, and social workers, these challenges often go unrecognized or misdiagnosed. In some cases, the associated struggles can even be made worse.
A new report published by the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute makes the case for increasing training and competency on adoption issues for professionals in the mental health field. The authors of the report conclude:
For a variety of reasons, adopted individuals and their families are more likely to use mental health services than is the general population. Helping adoptive parents manage these life complexities for themselves and their children can be a challenge, often requiring the help of professionals. Adopted individuals, as children and through their life cycles, can encounter a range of concerns (e.g. ones related to identity) with which they want and need professional assistance. Furthermore, birth/first mothers and fathers also frequently need the services of mental health counselors as they struggle to cope with their loss and, for a growing number of these individuals, to find satisfying ways of managing ongoing relationships with their children and their adoptive families. Mental health and allied professionals must be prepared to meet the needs of these individuals and families. They must possess not only the foundations for competent clinical practice, but also a deep understanding of the unique issues involved.
Along with their findings, the Institute makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Developing certification programs for professionals to get clinical competence in adoption-related issues.
- Strengthening and expanding existing programs.
- Outreach programs to spread awareness of the need for such training.
- Educating insurance providers about these issues.
- Expanding research to evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of such training.
You can read the full report here.