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adoption-competent therapy

What an Adoption-Competent Therapist Thinks You Need to Know

“Turn on the lights. If things are in the dark, you are reinforcing that Shame Core. So have a practice of “Hey, we have the lights on about this. We’re turning on the lights for you. We’re turning on the lights for me. We’re all looking at our stuff because this is just part of being a person and it’s definitely part of being a family built by adoption.”

Jen Winkelmann, MA, LPC, NCC, in Ep 207 of Adoption: The Long View

Not every adoptive family will need an adoption-competent therapist on hand, but many will at some point. This is not to pathologize adoption; lots of non-adoptive families also end up also seeking therapy for various struggles. But adoptive families are statistically more likely to reach out for help. There are many possible reasons why, and those are beyond the scope of this episode. Instead, we’re coming at the topic of Adoption-Competent Therapy from this stance: you might one day need it, and when you do, you’ll want to already know about it.

In truth, parents themselves need to become adoption-competent, and it goes without saying, you don’t do that just by adopting a baby. So how DOES an adoptive parent become more adoption competent? For one thing, listen | to | adoptee | voices. Another thing you can do is to learn about adoption-competent therapy, which you’ll want to access long before you are in the throes of needing it.

Let’s take this first step by talking with a highly-regarded adoption-competent therapist, Jen Winkelmann, MA, LPC, NCC, about what you need to know and do for your beloved child.

I attended a session a few years ago at the annual conference of the National Council For Adoption when it was in Denver, and I was blown away by the presentation of Jen Winkelmann and her colleagues at Inward Bound. I have also come to know Jen in other capacities, and I’m so excited to welcome her for Episode 207 of Adoption: The Long View.

adoption competent therapist

Do Adoptive Families Really NEED an Adoption-Competent Therapist?

Listen in as Jen reveals:

  • The far-reaching effects of a strong bond between baby and first mom (or lack thereof), and why everyone involved should promote it and not try to prevent that attachment.
  • What ultimately brings families to a therapist and when, and what keeps adoptive parents from reaching out sooner.
  • Insight on the Shame Core: a nervous system that believes I’m not okay. I’m not enough. I wasn’t that important…and how to send and re-wire a new message.
  • One of the most significant things you can do as an adoptive parent for your child.
  • Jen’s best advice for adopting well and for adoptive-parenting well.

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript (but listening is so much better!).

“The very best thing that can happen is that the birth mom falls in love with that baby while she’s carrying it. And if there is a relationship and a falling-in-love experience that happens while that baby is in the womb, before the child is placed with the adoptive family, that falling-in-love experience helps lay a template for that child so they can fall in love again.”

— Jen Winkelmann, adoption competent therapist

Show Notes from Episode 207

Jen is is the Founder of Inward Bound. As a family therapist, Jen’s primary clinical focus is adoption and foster care issues, including the impact of early trauma and the spectrum of relationship difficulties that result from disrupted attachments. She is a TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) practitioner and trainer. Jen specializes in work with children who may have suffered attachment trauma, but she also offers services for couples and adult individuals seeking help with depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, stress, and grief/loss.

Jen’s  non-work passions include ballroom dancing, photography, and producing her own podcast, All I Know.

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Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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