A Specialized Consultation and Treatment Service for Adopted Persons*
Northstar Consulting Associates 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). Northstar’s unique services have become necessary because of serious problems faced by adopted people in the overlap of family law, mental health, and adoption– where myths, misinformation, inadequate training, and unwarranted anxiety still prevail.
The Change in New York State Law, January 2020
The change in NYS law – likely to be followed by a similar change in law in other states – allowing adopted adults unrestricted access to their own birth certificates is viewed by adoption reformers as a final acknowledgement of the human and civil rights of adopted people 18 yrs. old and older whose biological origins and full identities have been shrouded in secrecy. Adopted adults in increasing numbers are in the process of obtaining their birth certificates, knowingly facing the emotional turmoil of receiving new information and, in some cases, of meeting biological relatives for the first time. Confusion is inevitable, and sometimes the experience can become overwhelming.
Through Northstar associates, adopted people have access to mental health professionals who are not only senior clinicians but exceptionally knowledgeable about the psychology of being adopted, and about “the meanings of the search.” At such a time, sometimes their family members are powerfully affected also. Northstar associates are available to assist adopted individuals with their experience, and also their family members (including birth relatives who are found). Adopted clients already in treatment can advise their therapists that specialized consultation and advanced training of therapists is available through Northstar Consulting.
[See Section “The Search for Information”]
Common Treatment Experiences of Adopted People
The psychotherapists of Northstar Consulting Associates 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.
If you are an adopted person and you seek help from one of our associates, you won’t be dismissed or considered someone with lesser human rights and needs than everyone else. 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 Consulting Associates!
* “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 Associates 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.