Adoption Triad Logo

June 2022   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month  

Teamwork of hands


Adoption Competent Mental Health

When mental health providers who work with adoptive families build their skills, knowledge and understanding of the adoption journey, everybody benefits. Children and youth who are adopted have unique mental health needs, and parents also need tools to support themselves and their children. Separation, loss, and traumatic or adverse experiences put children who are adopted at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and mental health challenges. Adoption competent therapists can help youth process their feelings and help parents view their child’s struggles through the lens of their experiences and help identify developmental issues and survival behaviors.

Adoption is one of the key life transitions in which children and their families may need therapeutic support, and the need for support does not end when an adoption is finalized. Adoption competent clinicians believe that children can heal in the context of familial relationships and work with both the parents and the child. Mental health professionals require an understanding of the complexities and core issues of adoption to best support families through different developmental stages. Implementing adoption-competent education, resources, and support services strengthens and stabilizes families.

The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative identifies five key principles of adoption competent mental health:

  • Strengthening attachment
  • Supporting grief and loss
  • Understanding the impact of trauma on brain development and behavior
  • Promoting positive identity development
  • Evaluating the impact of race, culture, and diversity

Engaging in adoption competent mental health training provides clinicians a foundational understanding of the needs and mental health challenges for children and their families. These trainings help mental health professionals connect individual and family experiences with the complex and nuanced mental health needs of children who were adopted. Child Welfare Information Gateway offers guidance on Finding and Working with Adoption-Competent Therapists.

Explore the resources below to learn more about the importance of adoption competent mental health for child welfare professionals who are working with children and families during the adoption process. These resources analyze the impact of working with adoption-competent therapists, explore training for mental health professionals, and describe how adoption competence can support children and families.


Building an Adoption Competent Workforce: A Review of the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative


By Wilson, Riley, and Lee


Training for
Child Welfare Professionals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative



Training for
Mental Health Professionals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    By National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative




For more information, visit at
Manage your subscriptions.


cwig Footer