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Help for Adoptive Families Improves with Charleston’s First Counseling Center for Adopted Children and Their Families

Check out the press release announcing Bridgepointe Therapy’s opening:

A new counseling office, Bridgepointe Therapy, recently opened in Charleston to specialize in working with adoptive and foster families.  This is Charleston’s only counseling center exclusively providing adoption therapy.  Based in West Ashley, Bridgepointe Therapy serves families from Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.   

“After talking to over 20 professionals in the adoption and mental health fields, I consistently heard how significant the need is for a therapist who understands adoption,” said Emily Belknap, Bridgepointe Therapy’s owner and therapist.  “There are complex needs to address when working with adoptive families, such as identity, loss and grief, navigating open adoption, trauma, attachment, and how to share difficult information about a child’s adoption story in an age-appropriate way.”  Emily has been providing therapy to adoptive families for the past few years at an agency in the Washington, DC area, and relocated to Charleston eager to help meet this need for an adoption therapist in the community.   

“One thing I’ve realized is that parents and professionals don’t always recognize the impact that adoption has not just around the time of the adoption, but throughout childhood and adulthood,” explains Emily.  “Children may go years without struggling, but then reach a new developmental level where they understand their adoption story in deeper ways both intellectually and emotionally.” 

It’s common for adoption-related struggles to mask themselves as other feelings or behaviors.  Emily explains, “A lot of times a child or teen is struggling with anxiety, depression, or anger, but when we get to the root of the issue, we uncover that the anxiety is the child worrying that he has to be good enough in order to earn the right to stay in the family.  Or the depression is about the adolescent feeling worthless because of the misbelief that her own birth mother didn’t love or want her.  Or the anger is because it’s easier to feel angry than to feel sadness and grief about being separated from his birth mother.”  Parents are often surprised to learn their child was experiencing these thoughts, and children are relieved to no longer have to carry these worries alone.  

Emily encourages parents to consider the connection to adoption if their child or teen is struggling emotionally or behaviorally whether they were adopted a week ago or a decade ago.  “When the adoption piece is missed in therapy, it can lead to worse outcomes for the child and the family as a whole.”   

Emily’s goal is to help adopted children and teens improve their confidence and self-esteem, and to strengthen their relationships with their families and friends.  Often, this requires exploring thoughts and feelings related to their adoption story and birth family.  For this reason, Emily offers complimentary phone consultations to talk through parents’ concerns and determine if counseling with an adoption therapist is necessary.  Visit www.bridgepointetherapy.com for additional information or call 843-628-6381 to schedule a consultation.  Bridgepointe Therapy is located in West Ashley at 1365 D Ashley River Rd, Charleston SC 29407. 

Help your school better support your adopted child this year

You’ve done it–your family has survived the first month back at school!  As a parent, you already know that children and teens who were adopted or are in foster care struggle with this time of year because it’s a transition, there are a lot of unknowns that cause anxiety, and it may be a separation from spending time at home with you.

Having worked for years providing therapy to children and teens, I know that it’s usually the one-month mark when I see parents start reaching out for therapy for their child or teen.  It’s around this time that kids are required to do more challenging academic work and they’ve already had several tests and quizzes.  Here in Charleston County, they are halfway to report cards and may already be worried and stressed about their grades.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to connect with your school to give them information about how to support your child throughout the school year.  Even the best educators can inadvertently make comments or assign projects that are upsetting for a child who was adopted or spent time in foster care if the educator hasn’t ever been given information about adoption.  Just being aware that certain topics or times-of-year are difficult for your child will help your teacher better understand changes in behavior and better intervene to lessen uncomfortable feelings that your child may experience.  This makes it better for everyone!

Bridgepointe Therapy has several resources on our website written by experts in the adoption field specifically for educators.  We also have a one-page School Counselor Tipsheet with considerations for supporting your child and a brief overview of how adoption may affect children at different stages of development.  Share these resources with your child’s teachers and school counselor.  To discuss getting started in therapy for your child or teen or to discuss ways that your school can better support your adopted child or teen, contact me for a consultation!