What is Adoption Counseling?

The decision to place a child for adoption is a heart-wrenching choice for a woman who is also facing an unplanned pregnancy.

In order to make a sound decision, an expectant mother should be provided with information about how adoption works, such as understanding open adoption and being aware of her rights.  She also would benefit from having an advocate to guide her through the process.  The expectant mother should also be provided with supportive, adoption-focused counseling.

There are unique features of adoption counseling provided prior to the placement of a child. There is no right way to do an adoption because there are many choices and it’s mostly up to the expectant mother.  The counselor’s goal should be to educate expectant parents on their options and let them be in charge of their adoption plan. The agency would ensure that the expectant mother is moving at her own pace, feels control over the process, experiences neutrality with respect to her options and that she feels a safe place to share her feelings.

Some of the counseling issues that commonly arise are:

  1. Respecting the adoption decision – Many expectant mothers are combating negative views of adoption that are prevalent in our society.  The counselor can assist her client with dispelling myths about adoption and affirming the real sacrifice that the expectant mother is making by putting her child first.
  2. Exploring feelings – There are a multitude of emotions that a woman may feel when considering the placement of her child, such as experiencing loss and grief, loss of power and control over her child, sacrificing for her child, shame about the decision, fears about the future and worries about how the child may feel.
  3. Understanding the reasons for an adoption plan – There are many factors that lead a woman to consider adoption:  she’s drained economically, she’s young, she doesn’t have a supportive partner, she’s parenting other children, she’s wanting her child to have opportunities that she cannot provide, she has an unstable family situation, among others.
  4. Counseling and Advocacy – The agency provides emotional support and empathy for her struggle, preparation for facing loss and handling grief, setting goals and planning for the future, education regarding childbirth and the associated emotions, positive attitudes toward adoption (including positive adoption language) and an understanding of her rights.
  5. Open Adoption – Selecting an adoptive family and navigating the emotional relationship with the family requires support to figure out this unique relationship.

The counselor must examine her own views toward adoption, and toward those who don’t parent. Our clients don’t need to be told what to do or to be judged about their decisions or assumptions made about their best choices.  A counselor must always keep the client as the central focus and provide a safe place to make an adoption plan or to decide to parent.

This blog was written by Maggie Gill Benz, Clinical Director for the Adoption Center for Family Building. Adoption Center for Family Building is a private, non-profit open adoption agency licensed in Illinois and Indiana. For more information about the services offered by this agency, visit our website at www.centerforfamily.com or call our office at 847-674-3231