A Specialized Consultation and Treatment Service for Adopted Persons*
Northstar Clinical Consultants is the over-arching name for an expanding number of senior state-licensed psychotherapists who are exceptionally qualified** to provide services to adopted adolescents and adults. We are available to meet with people in our private offices, but we can also serve as a resource for those in other parts of the country with concerns that relate directly or indirectly to their being adopted. For people at a distance, we can answer questions and provide information, or if desired, we can schedule fuller psychoeducational consultations by videophone (see Northstar Teleconsulting).
A Note to Mental Health Professionals
There is much in the literature about treatment of adoptive families with young children, as well as reports of sociological/social work-based studies that compare subgroups of adopted children and adoptive families (closed vs open adoption, domestic vs. international adoptions). However, very little has focused on the actual development and psychology of the adopted person into adolescence and young adulthood. Three Northstar specialists are co-editors of a forthcoming book entitled Handbook on the Clinical Treatment of Adopted Adolescents and Young Adults
This is the first publication to focus extensively on the need for changes in the way evaluations and treatment of adopted persons are conducted, i.e., not only on the importance of working from an adoption-specific knowledge-base but on the therapeutic process. It is our hope that this Handbook will become a foundation for advanced clinical training needed for best clinical practice. We have observed that mental health professionals tend to depend on what they think they already know about adoption even if they believe they are trauma-informed or attachment-informed. They have not, however, been trained specifically in the many areas that relate to being adopted — that differ significantly from the non-adopted. Without this, they are not adoption-informed. Further, treatment of the adopted adolescent/adult requires an understanding of the adopted person as an individual on her/his own terms, separate from – as well as part of – her/his complex family system involving two or more families.
To Adopted Persons
The psychotherapists of Northstar Clinical Consultants understand that “being adopted” doesn’t really refer to what happened long ago when you were brought home by your adoptive parents, or when various legal papers were signed. Being adopted refers to many things having to do with who you are now – who you have become as a person, with many more complicated thoughts and feelings and questions than people ever have when they’re not adopted.
Have you ever wondered if sometimes the moods, sadness, anxiousness, anger– or relationship or academic problems – you’ve experienced may have something to do with your being adopted?
Included in your experience as an adopted person are ideas and feelings you can’t even begin to put into words because they are so confusing and different – perhaps some of them seem even ‘weird’ — from the experience of people who aren’t adopted. Sometimes the thoughts and feelings can get even intense, but you don’t know how to describe or explain them.
Have you seen a counselor or therapist but felt that your being adopted wasn’t focused on that much, or was even put aside as though it wasn’t that important? Did you get the message that “it’s time to move on and put that behind you?” Did you go along with it because you didn’t know how to explain what was on your mind anyway?
You may want help in understanding a number of things about yourself, beginning with your thoughts and feelings, and in figuring out what they mean, or where they came from. However, you haven’t found anyone you think might be able to sense what they’re really about. Some of the nicest or generally wisest people can try to help, but in the end, you still have the feeling that when it comes to your being adopted, “they really don’t get it.”
Unfortunately, this is a typical experience that adopted people report having with otherwise skilled and well-meaning counselors and psychotherapists. There is a lot that therapists themselves aren’t able to understand since there isn’t any training for them anywhere about the special issues for adopted people, especially when they are adolescents and adults. For example:
If you ever wondered what it would be like to try to find out who you’re related to, did your therapist try to head this off by asking “What about your birthparents?” As though you’re being selfish and inconsiderate if you even think of searching, as though other people’s needs for “privacy” (birthparents) or involvement (your adoptive parents) are more legitimate and important than your need to know – without having to “justify”it – without needing someone’s “permission”?
You aren’t alone. You are actually part of a group of thousands – probably hundreds of thousands – of adopted persons with similar experiences. As an adopted person, you have a right to treatment that is sensitive and tuned-in to your concerns about being adopted – therapy that doesn’t treat your questions and concerns and need to talk about being adopted as though it’s secondary, or even completely unimportant, – or as though you want to talk about it because you’re really trying to avoid whatever you should be talking about. It’s not at all that being adopted is “everything,” it isn’t, by any means. But at least you will find a very experienced clinician with a balanced understanding of your inner experience as an adopted person, within the larger picture of your quest to learn all the dimensions of who you are and want to become, and to make the changes you want in order to have a better life.
Welcome to Northstar Clinical Consultants!
* “Adopted” refers to persons separated from biological families and raised in non-kinship families. Since “open adoption” is a relatively new practice, most adopted adults are from closed adoptions which bar them from having their own birth certificates. Advocates for adoption reform point out that the only other group of people denied birth certificates were the American slaves (again the property theme).
** Northstar Consulting affiliates have extensive and diverse backgrounds as clinicians, with specialties in different areas that are relevant to adoption. A few Northstar affiliates are adopted people themselves. Some have been active in various ways in adoption reform. Because of the extensive knowledge-base and specialty skills required for assisting adopted people, we believe that for many clients, travel to NY, or to other affiliates in other cities for extended consultations, or for intermittent treatment, would be worth the investment, just as patients with medical crises will travel for second opinions or treatment from experts in their medical condition.
Northstar Consulting is comprised of independent individual mental health professionals with interest in the specific psychotherapeutic needs of the adopted person. Northstar Consulting is not a partnership or group practice. Its consultants operate entirely independently of one another, are not in business with each other, and do not have a business relationship with each other. Services are contracted with the individual consultant, not with a group. Each consultant works through their own private practice, either online or in office, and policies and fees for service are set accordingly.
Each practitioner in the website directory brings significant professional training and experience and specific skill sets in providing services to adopted people and their families. These include informal advisement, formal consulting and teleconsulting (including clinical supervision), adoption-specialized referrals, psychotherapeutic treatment, and psychological testing.