Adoption Competent Therapy: Why It Matters

Adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents have unique needs when it comes to therapy. To ensure that these needs are met, it is important to find an adoption-competent therapist. An adoption-competent therapist is one who has specialized knowledge about adoption and the specific issues related to the experience of being adopted. Let’s take a closer look at 3 benefits of therapy with an adoption specialist and why seeking out an adoption-competent therapist is so important. 

1. Adoption is a Complex Process and a Therapist Needs to Understand its Nuances 

Adoption is a complex process with many layers and nuances. For example, sometimes one may experience symptoms of anxiety or depression and it may not be obvious that it’s even related to adoption.

Adoptees may struggle with identity issues such as feeling like they do not belong or not truly knowing who they are due to a lack of information about their biological family history. 

Adoptive parents may experience stress due to the prevalence of trauma in adopted children or simply because they did not know what to expect from adoption.

Birth parents often feel conflicted emotions, including guilt, grief, and relief—all of which can be challenging to process without help from someone who understands the unique situations and experiences surrounding adoption. An adoption-competent therapist can provide support for all these complex emotions on both sides of the equation. 

2. An Adoption Specialist Understands How Trauma Impacts Adoptees Differently

Trauma affects everyone differently based on individual life experiences, genetics, environment, and other factors. It can shape an individual’s development in profound ways that an ordinary therapist might not recognize or understand if they are not familiar with how trauma impacts adoptees specifically. 

An adoption-competent therapist has the knowledge base needed to assess patients holistically in order to determine how best to address any underlying issues related to trauma or other aspects of their experience with adoption. 

3. An Adoption Specialist understands the complexities of the Various Connections

Connections between people in adoption. Two women smiling and putting an arm around the other. Sitting on stairs outside.

Adoption is full of connections between people—adoptees, adoptive families, birth families—and understanding those connections is key for successful therapy outcomes for all parties involved in an adoption situation. 

Not only does an adoption-competent therapist understand the complexities surrounding these connections but also recognizes their importance in healing and growth for all involved parties. 

They are able to use this knowledge base when helping their patients work through specific issues related to their unique connection within the larger context of adoption as a whole.  


Adoption is a special situation that requires a specialized approach when it comes to therapy options; therefore, finding an adoption-competent therapist should be a priority for adoptees seeking therapy as well as adoptive parents or birth parents looking for support as they navigate this complex journey together.

An experienced professional has the knowledge needed—including understanding how trauma affects development—to assess patients holistically so that any underlying issues associated with their particular situation can be properly addressed in order for them all to heal and grow together within their respective adoptive relationships. Whether you are a birth parent of an adoptee, an adoptive parent, or an adoptee- contact me today or schedule a free 15-minute-intro call to learn about how I can help you navigate your adoption journey.

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