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November 2013Vol. 14, No. 8Call for Mental Health Professionals Trained in Adoption

Members of the adoption triad—birth parents, adoptive parents, and people who have been adopted—often have difficulties finding mental health care providers who understand the complex issues associated with adoption and how those issues shape their identities, their relationships, and other aspects of their lives. A new report from the Donaldson Adoption Institute presents research findings on mental health issues for individuals touched by adoption, outlines barriers to accessing adoption-competent services, and offers strategies for enhancing the adoption competence of mental health professionals.

The report points out that many therapists, psychologists, and other allied professionals have not received training specific to addressing adoption-related issues. Moreover, they often don't fully understand why specialized knowledge would even be necessary. As a result, these professionals may be ill equipped to meet the needs of birth mothers struggling with loss and grief, to support adoptive parents in handling their children's adjustment difficulties, or to counsel adopted youth with their search for identity.
In A Need to Know, the Adoption Institute sets forth a series of recommendations to enhance mental health services for adoptive and birth families.

Proposed strategies include:

  • Developing certification for adoption clinical competence to help family members identify professionals with adoption expertise
  • Expanding adoption training programs across the country through innovative use of technology
  • Strengthening the clinical components of existing training programs
  • Developing outreach efforts to build greater awareness of the needs for adoption expertise among mental health professionals
  • Encouraging graduate and postgraduate programs to include more information about adoption and foster care in their curricula
  • Educating insurance companies and managed care providers about clinical postadoption needs and advocating for expanded coverage of related services

The report also includes an appendix that lists programs offering postgraduate training in adoption clinical competence for professionals. A Need to Know: Enhancing Adoption Competence Among Mental Health Professionals, by David Brodzinsksy, is available on the Donaldson Adoption Institute website: