Psychologist: Psych Evaluation for Parents

What to expect.

Sonia Billadeau February 11, 2014
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I have heard that parents who seek to adopt children are often required to undergo extensive psychological  or psych evaluations. Is this true? And, if it is, what should my husband and I expect in this process?

It is becoming increasingly common for parents who seek to adopt to undergo psychological evaluation. Generally, these evaluations are not “extensive” in nature and are conducted in order to provide an overview of the psychosocial functioning of potential adoptive parents. Unlike comprehensive psychological evaluations– in which measures of various abilities are administered (e.g., IQ testing, Perceptual-Motor assessment, Achievement testing, etc.)– pre-adoptive psych evaluations generally center around interviews with the parents together and independently. Sometimes, an objective (i.e., paper and pencil) personality measure may be utilized in order to supplement self-report (i.e., interview) data.

In the psychologist’s report, which is generally two to four pages in length, the reason for the evaluation should be stated. In this case, the reason would be your desire to adopt a child (or children). The reasons and expectations centering around adopting are typically discussed, as well as your feelings toward the biological parent(s) and the child’s present living situation. There should be a section that articulates relevant background information. Here, your history is addressed. Of particular concern will be pre-adoptive stressors such as fertility issues; miscarriages and other losses; relationship conflicts; and the like. In addition to your respective individual adjustments after adoption, you should also discuss your marital adjustment. Examples of conflicts and the mechanisms of resolution, by you and your spouse, may be offered. If psychological measures are utilized (e.g., a personality test), a thorough explanation of the data should be presented, as well as the impact of said findings on your potential to be suitable adoptive parents. Finally, the evaluator’s conclusion regarding you and your husband’s abilities in parenting an adoptive child will be offered.

As you move ahead, recognize that the psychological evaluation of potential adoptive parents is another of the many hurdles that you will face as you move through the journey of adoption. As I have discussed in my responses to previous queries, “adoption stress” will likely color all aspects of the adoption process. Know that this experience– including your feelings, thoughts, actions, and your physical and spiritual reactions– are normal. If you are to undergo a psychological evaluation, just relax and be yourself. You’re not expected to be free of anxiety, realistic fears, and concerns. Rather than focusing on the review mirror, clouded by stresses of the past, focus on the road ahead and see your dream of having an adoptive child realized.


The information and advice provided is intended to be general information, NOT as advice on how to deal with a particular child’s situation or problem. If your child has a specific problem, you need to ask your pediatrician about it. Only after a careful history and physical exam can a medical diagnosis and treatment plan be made. This website does not constitute a physician-patient relationship.

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Sonia Billadeau

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