Finding and Using Postadoption Services: Types of Postadoption Services

This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway

Types of Postadoption Services

The wide range of issues that can be addressed with postadoption services means that the services themselves must be diverse. The following are the most common types of postadoption services, including those that families have identified as most helpful. The table on page 10 provides resources to help parents find these services in their local areas.

Support groups

Support groups can offer adoptive parents and youth valuable opportunities to interact and share with others who have had similar experiences. Groups provide members with support systems, social interaction, and information resources. Groups may restrict their focus to families or children who share certain characteristics (such as having been adopted from a specific country or having same-sex parents), or they may include all adoptive families in their programming.

Adoptive parent support groups. Often organized by adoptive parent volunteers, support groups bring together experienced and new adoptive parents to share experiences in a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Parent groups offer a variety of services—discussion groups, social activities, family events, workshops, newsletters, websites, community referrals, and more. Groups exist throughout the country and vary extensively, from small community playgroups for parents of toddlers to large regional groups.

Children and youth support groups. For many adopted children and youth, a peer support group is their first chance to interact with other children and youth who were adopted and to see that their experiences and feelings related to adoption are normal. Groups provide a safe environment where children and youth can talk about their birth and adoptive families and share their fears and concerns. Some groups pair older adopted youth as mentors for younger children.

Online support groups. Available 24 hours a day and bridging geographical distances, Internet support groups, blogs, and Facebook pages are increasingly popular. Participating in these groups, parents and adopted youth will likely find families and other youth who can relate to what they are going through and may be able to provide helpful suggestions. As with any Internet activity, precautions should be taken to protect safety and privacy.

Camps, social events, and heritage activities.

Overnight camps or retreats are a way for members of adoptive families to connect not only with others like themselves, but also with their own family members. Such events, which may take place over a weekend or a full week, often combine adoption and ethnic heritage support with traditional camping activities. Attendees frequently form powerful friendships with other adopted children and youth, and they provide each other ongoing support all year long. Other adoptive family activities may include picnics, group outings, recreational activities, and celebrations of cultural events as well as heritage tours of home countries.


As discussed above, members of adoptive families may need professional help as concerns or problems arise. Needs will differ from family to family and may include:

Guidance on children’s attachment, trust, emotional, or behavioral issues

Assistance in working through the impact of adoption on the family and strains in marriages or partnerships and other relationships

Support in working through feelings when the reality of adoption does not match expectations

Timely intervention by a skilled professional often can prevent concerns from becoming more serious problems. The type and duration of therapy will vary. Some families need a therapist’s help only for a short period; others build a relationship over years, “checking in” for help as needed. There are many different types of treatment approaches and professionals offering adoption therapy. It is critical to work with a therapist familiar with the unique issues of adoptive families and one that involves parents in the process.

Respite care

All parents need some time for themselves. This may be especially true for parents of children who require high levels of attention. Respite care offers parents a temporary break by a carefully selected and trained provider. It is meant for families with children who require more skilled care than babysitters can provide, foster parents whose program requires a licensed provider, and parents going through a crisis of their own. Respite care may be provided in the families’ home or another selected site. Respite may be available on a scheduled or crisis basis from a State postadoption unit or local adoption agency, or through a local adoptive parent group.

Educational and information resources

Postadoption service providers may offer, or provide referrals to, useful information and resources that respond to adoptive family members’ questions and help them understand what to expect.

Books, magazines, websites, and other resources. There are many helpful books, magazines, and websites on adoption for children, youth, and adults. Many of the children’s books explain the “whys” and experiences of adoption. Some may help as children begin to discuss their own adoption story. Some resources help parents look at the unique aspects of adoptive parenting. Others are written specifically for those who have adopted children with particular needs or who are parenting children from other cultures.

Workshops, seminars, and conferences. Many adoptive parent support groups, adoption agencies, and postadoption service organizations offer education in adoption issues. At an adoption workshop or conference, parents can learn about the adoption topics that are important to them, have questions answered by experts, socialize with other adoptive family members, and access adoption-related materials. Online webinars allow parents to listen to experts from the convenience of their own home.

Information and referral. Since family needs will emerge and change over time, parents need to know where to go when they have questions or want services. Information and referral services may be offered through telephone hotlines, websites, directories, or one-on- one assistance.

Openness, search, and reunion

State agencies and other organizations may help adoptive parents, birth parents, and people who have been adopted negotiate postadoption contact agreements or access information and adoption records, in accordance with State laws. (See and Some will provide additional services to arrange and prepare for reunions and mediate the relationships that may form. They also can answer questions and help adopted children and youth, adoptive family members, and birth family members deal with the powerful emotions related to search and reunion.

Continue to Finding and Using Postadoption Services: Organizations That Provide Services

Return to Adoption Parenting


The original (2006) version of this factsheet was developed by Child Welfare Information Gateway, in partnership with Susan Frievalds. This update is made possible by the Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The conclusions discussed here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not represent the official views or policies of the funding agency, nor does the funding agency endorse the products or organizations mentioned in this factsheet.


Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2012). Finding and using postadoption services. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.