Psychological evaluations of the adoptive parent

I have heard that parents who seek to adopt children are often required to undergo extensive psychological 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 psychological 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, 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/or 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, etc. Beyond your respective individual adjustments, should be a discussion concerning your marital adjustment. Examples of conflicts, and the mechanism of resolution, by you and your husband 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… 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 clearly see your dream of having an adoptive child realized.

Written By Mark Lerner, Ph.D. of Adoptiondoctors.com