September 28, 2022

How adoptees, parents can access adoption support groups and mental health services

Parents who have adopted internationally or privately get little support if things go wrong.

A USA TODAY investigation into broken adoptions found one of the major challenges facing adoptive families is access to support and mental health services.

Roughly half of states provide post-adoption services only to families who adopt from foster care, leaving parents who adopted internationally or privately with fewer options if things go wrong. And even for families who adopt from foster care, accessing resources can be a challenge.

Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, told USA TODAY adoptive parents may not be able to access services a child needs, may be embarrassed to ask for help or may be unprepared for challenges that surface after adoption.

Far from the fairy tale: Broken adoptions shatter promises to 66,000 kids in the US

Problems arise, she said, when parents aren’t paired with the resources they need, such as competent mental health providers or formal access to respite care.

“For someone to say ‘You can’t be with this family any longer,’ it’s the ultimate rejection,” Soronen said. “At times, I think I don’t know how a child overcomes that.”

Here are some resources available to adoptees, parents and loved ones:

Programs that provide post-adoption assistance and support

Access to post-adoption support, such as mental health services and respite care, can vary by state and type of adoption. Connect with a program near you to learn more:

For example, the federal government’s adoption and guardianship assistance database provides summaries of state policies on available programs and services. Scroll to the “select a state” function to find resources in your area.

Other support services and ways to find them include:

Find an adoption support group

Experts told USA TODAY that community-based groups can help support families and make them feel less alone in the adoption journey.

Additional resources for adoptive families

There are additional resources that may be useful for adoptees and their families, including options for respite care, educational assistance and advocacy.

Marisa Kwiatkowski is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team, focusing primarily on children and social services. Contact her at [email protected], @byMarisaK or by phone, Signal or WhatsApp at (317) 207-2855.

More in this series

‘A broken system’ leaves tens of thousands of adoptees without families, homes

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Adoption resources: A guide to support groups, mental health services