Caring for vulnerable children through adoption and foster care is critically important and close
to the heart of God. Perhaps because of the emphasis placed on orphan care in churches,
Christians adopt and foster at higher rates than the general population. However, the journey
of adoption and foster care is challenging, and families are often unprepared for the journey.
For example, children who have been adopted or spent time in foster care often have
experienced trauma and have difficulty attaching to their new families. It is critical to not just
encourage Christians to adopt and foster, but also come alongside families and support them in
the journey. In this presentation, we discuss some of the key considerations for meeting the
mental health needs of adoptive and foster families. First, we consider some of the most
common trauma experiences that are seen in adoptive and foster children (e.g., physical,
sexual, and emotional abuse), as well as some of the key interventions to help children heal
from trauma. Second, we explore some of the most common attachment problems
experienced by adoptive and foster children, and discuss ways to help families work with their
children to build a closer attachment bond moving forward. Finally, we consider some of the
most important mental health needs of adoptive and foster parents, and discuss a three-part
model for offering support to parents (e.g., emotional support, informational support, tangible
support). Throughout the presentation, we integrate research, clinical examples, and practical
application. By helping to meet the mental health needs of adoptive and foster families,
counselors and pastors can help families not only survive but thrive.
Presented by: Joshua Hook, Ph.D. & Jenn Hook, M.A.
- Describe the key challenges and mental health needs of adoptive and foster families
- Discuss practical interventions for helping adoptive and foster children heal from trauma and build strong attachments with their caregivers
- Identify the three key areas of support for adoptive and foster families