We find that people whose lives have been touched by adoption really appreciate the consideration of these issues in understanding the larger picture of their lives. IAC Center offers counseling for all members of the adoption constellation: Adoptive parents; Birth parents; Children, Teens and Adults who were adopted, and sometimes extended family members such as adoptive or birth grandparents for example. We also provide the much needed service of Open Adoption Consultations for all adoption family members and professionals working with these families.
IAC center understands that the journey doesn’t end when an adoption is legally finalized. Working with all adoption constellation members helps IAC Center Counselors to understand the multiple perspectives and life cycle themes in adoption.
- Individuals to deal with the unique psychosocial tasks specific to adoption. See: Life Cycle at a Glance Chart
- Adoptive families differentiate general parenting concerns and personality styles from adoption-related issues.
- Adopted individuals find the adoption layer within their more general concerns.
- With communication and the complexities of relationships between in open adoptions. See: Open Adoption Consultation
- With Search and Reunion
We offer a variety of post-adoption and general psychotherapy services:
Counseling may be short-term, ongoing, periodic or just a good annual check-up to assist the child or family with the current adoption life stage issues.
Adoptive Parents seek counseling when they want help with:
- Adjustment to becoming parents
- Post-Adoption Blues or Depression
- Transiting their child home at the outset
- Building attachments with their children
- Dealing with a child’s difficult behaviors or emotions
- Addressing sibling issues
- Planning how to talk to their child about adoption issues
- Determining how or when to share difficult information
- Open Adoption issues
- Transracial Adoptive Family issues
- School and peer issues
- Dealing with questions from friends or family
- And probably for as many reasons as there are adoptive families!
- Adoption Counseling
- General Psychotherapy
- Annual Check-ups: Children do best when they are helped by their parents to metabolize adoption issues incrementally. Parents find they have new questions, concerns or issues as their child develops and begins to ask more complex questions. Come in for an annual check up to be certain you are on track and to plan for the next stage you are anticipating. See: Life Cycle at a Glance Chart https://iaccenter.com/articles/LifecycleAtAGlance_2011.pdf
- Adoptive Parent Support Groups – Members discuss adoption and general parenting issues. Currently we offer or will be starting the following groups:
- Parents of younger children – In Pennington NJ and in Montclair NJ. Learn how to identify whether your child’s behavior is related to development, personality style or adoption; how to communicate with your child about adoption; to deal with adoption issues with friends, family and the school; with open adoption and transracial adoptive family issues, etc.
- Parents of children with self–regulation issues – In Montclair NJ. This group is for adoptive parents seeking to learn strategies and tools to deal effectively with behavioral or emotional challenges, anger, discipline, sleep, and sibling issues, etc.
- Parents of Teens group – In Pennington NJ. Learn about some unique concerns adopted teens may have; effective strategies for parent-teen communication; and how to differentiate between typical teen’s behavior, adoption issues or psychological concerns.
Adoption Workshops: See EVENTS for current listings or contact JMantellmsw@gmail.com to let us know of your interest in any of these topics.
- How to Talk to Kids About Adoption
- Understanding Open Adoption
- Transracial Adoptive Families
- Integrative Parenting: Strategies for Promoting Self-Regulation in Children
- Therapeutic Writing Groups and Workshops – Writing is one of the best ways to access deeper feelings, to problem solve and to find meaning in life’s experiences. IAC Center Counselor Sarah Saffian, LMSW, MFA, adoptee, author of Ithaka, and memoir teacher at Sarah Lawrence is creating a series of workshops and groups for members of the adoption constellation, which employ creative writing as a therapeutic tool.
Open Adoption Consultations
“My friends who are not adoptive parents wish they had agroup like this.” A.N., Adoptive Mother, Adoptive Parents Support Group.
Our perspective on birth parents experiences is shaped by clinical work done before, during and after the adoption placement. Given our life cycle experience and the fact that IAC Center does not do adoptions, these clients are able to benefit from our neutral perspective
We work with birth parents before, during and after an adoption placement. We help:
- Expectant parents considering adoption to make timely decisions mindful of lifelong considerations for both themselves and their child. Since IAC Center does not do adoptions, we are uniquely positioned to offer a neutral perspective at this difficult time.
- Parents of a toddler they are considering placing for adoption
- Birth parents matched with adoptive families wanting help with this relationship and planning for post-adoption contact
- With grief and other post-adoption feelings
- Preparing for or reacting to open adoption visits at various ages of the child’s development
- Responding to a child’s request for contact via letter, email or in person
- Search and Reunion in instances of closed adoptions
- Sharing their birth parent history with new partners, family or friends
- And other concerns
- Pre and Post Adoption Counseling
- Introductions to our birth parent mentors – women that have placed children for adoption and are willing to talk with others considering or dealing with similar experiences
- Therapeutic Writing for Birth Parents of Children Ages Infancy to 21.
- Talking Circle for Adoption Constellation members dealing with Search and Reunion.
- Open Adoption Consultations and Mediations for issues that come up in planning for or dealing with an open adoption.
- Search and Reunion related counseling.
Opportunities for speaking which some birth parents find to have a positive impact on growth and healing.
IAC Center Counselors are specially trained to be sensitive to life cycle themes in adoption; and can help individuals to differentiate whether issues are primarily related to adoption, child development, personality style, current stressors or some combination of these reasons.
Adopted children, tweens, teens and adults come to counseling to:
- Discuss feelings and thoughts in a safe, neutral setting
- Explore issues related to adoption, race or identity
- Prepare for opening an adoption
- Deal with Search and Reunion
- Meet with like-minded peers in groups
Children, Tweens and Teen Groups
The IAC Center groups for adopted children focus on self-esteem and social issues related to this age group in general. Simple catalytic exercises and fun activities are offered to bring out the adoption issues. Since all children in the group will be adopted the theme will emerge in a natural manner. The goal is for children to feel supported by being in a like-minded peer group with similar issues and concerns.
“Sometimes we don’t even talk about adoption but it really makes me feel really good to know other kids who were adopted. I know I can talk to them about adoption if I want.” L.N., age 16 years.
The IAC Center’s adopted teen group focuses on adoption issues teens may think about such as identity formation, independence and separation, heightened curiosity about the past, and general adolescent issues as well. Discussion, movies, art, writing and social games are used to explore adoption issues.
Currently we offer or are building the following groups:
- Girls 7 to 9 – Pennington NJ
- Boys 7 to 9 – Pennington NJ
- Tweens – Pennington NJ
- Teens – Pennington NJ
Please contact JMantellmsw@iaccenter.com or 609-737-8750 if you have an interest for your child or if need some assistance with how to introduce a group to your child.