Adoption Counseling2024-05-17T16:40:38+00:00

Are you feeling exhausted as a parent?  Are you worried about your adoptive child?  Do you find yourself feeling angry or frustrated, out of options, at times?


dad holding daughter at the beachAre you are struggling with your adoptive child’s behaviors and emotions – perhaps his/her behaviors are aggressive/defiant, or s/he struggles to manage emotions (such as anger, fear, or even extreme joy/happiness).

Have you looked at other adoptive families and wondered how they have been able to bond so well with their child?  Are you concerned that your child will not be able to develop a secure attachment with you?  Perhaps you wish you could find the key to understanding her/him better.

Do you find yourself wondering if you are equipped to attend to the unique challenges of raising an adoptive child, whose beginnings have often been traumatic, abusive, neglectful, and filled with loss?

Is your adoptive child asking questions about their history and identity (birth parents/family, origins, culture/country), and you are unsure how to answer them?  Maybe your adoptive child is struggling to reconcile having both birth and adoptive parents and you feel lost in how to support him/her.

Do you find yourself worrying about your adoptive child’s future, or wishing for a family life that is less stressful and chaotic?

Although it may feel like you have nowhere to turn, there is support out there.  Your relationship with your child can deepen, and his/her emotional and behavioral needs can be addressed in a way that supports your child and your relationship with your child.

Many adoptive families struggle with these same issues, and feel the same way you do.  I have supported adoptive families over the years and have seen children and their family members find new and healthy ways of interacting with one another and with the world.

Maybe you have some hesitations about committing to counseling for your child. Perhaps you have struggled to find a therapist who understands the complexities of adoption and adoptive families.  Of course, all families are a unique, and their strengths and struggles equally so.  I have worked with adoptive families for over 7 years and have trained extensively with adoption-competent and attachment-focused clinicians in the field (including Dan Hughes and his model of Attachment Focused Family Therapy).  I understand the unique strengths and challenges that are a part of raising an adoptive child, but perhaps most importantly, I want to understand those aspects from your perspective.   Regarding my approach to counseling adoptive children and their families, I draw on strengths-based and solution focused approaches, in addition to interpersonal neurobiology and attachment theory.  Most importantly, I strive to understand the complexities and uniqueness of your family and your child by listening to each member in your family and honoring your unique perspectives.

mom and daughterYou may also worry that a therapist may not be able to ‘hold’ and ‘be present with’ all the struggles your child and you are facing.  In meeting with you and your child, I work hard to understand the problem as you see it, to understand how these struggles have been impacting you all emotionally, and to gather as much information and examples that I can, so that we can work together toward your goals.  These difficulties you are experiencing can be addressed in the context of counseling, with the support of a therapist and the commitment from family members to try new things.  If additional referrals or supports seem to be more appropriate for you, or if things come up throughout the course of our time together, I will discuss this with you to determine if additional referrals are recommended.

Maybe your adoptive child has been to counseling in the past and you didn’t feel a part of the process because of the modality the therapist utilized.  There are many approaches to working with children in therapy.  In my work with children and their families, I see you (the parents/caregivers) as my main form of intervention, collaboration, and support.  In addition to supporting your child, I want to support you in helping your child work through these difficult issues.  In this way, you will be able to sustain changes and manage issues that may come up in the future after counseling has completed.

“I have been fortunate to have known Aleisha as a therapist colleague for many years. She is a gifted, wise, and skilled therapist who is competent in adoption issues and truly cares about her families. She is also passionate about her pursuit of applying attachment theory to practice in creative ways. We are lucky to have her on our team!” –Janelle Althen, LCSW, P.A.S.S. (Post Adoption Support Services) Center for Families, Co-Director

Here is a snapshot of what adoption counseling with Aleisha Maunu MA LMFT LAC might look like:

In my work with all families with children, I will want to meet with you, the parent(s)/caregiver, first, to gather some background information, allow us to get to know each other better, and allow me to understand what you are wanting to get from adoption counseling.  I will want to get a deep sense of your child’s development and attachment history, both since coming into your home and pre-adoption.  In understanding you and your child better, I will be able to make a recommendation about how to proceed in our time together.

Sessions after this will depend on what you are hoping to get out of adoption counseling and what recommendations I have after our first session, but will most likely include a blend of sessions with you and your child, and with you as parents only.

mother holding sons hand in back yardI use a variety of ways to interact and connect with your child, including art, play, movement, playfulness, and humor.  It is important to me that each person’s voice is heard throughout the course of therapy, and that all family members feel emotionally safe in the therapy room to express themselves.  My belief in the power of therapy comes from a foundation that safe and secure relationships can be healing and can help us move through in the world in healthy and productive ways.  I will support you and your child in strengthening the foundation of your relationship so that this openness, support, and healing can happen not only in therapy, but also at home.

Specific to your child’s history, I will also help you and your child explore what is driving his/her behaviors, and whether they are connected to wounds from your child’s past.  In giving voice to these drivers and in adults’/parents’ witnessing and validating the child’s experiences, healing is possible.  Additionally, this can potentially lead to the deepening of your relationship with your child.

You may find that there are a lot of counselors in this area that work with children, and your might be wondering what makes adoption counseling with me unique.  My belief in the healing power of relationships, my understanding of adoption issues/child development/attachment/trauma, and my commitment to supporting you (the caregivers) in your child’s life create a unique therapy process in which both child, parent, and family are supported.

I have been given feedback by others that I approach adoption counseling for children in a creative way, striving to hear each family members’ voice, and creating a safe and nurturing environment where all feel open to be vulnerable and make changes.  I assume that each family member is trying the best they can, that they have a strong foundation of love for one another, and that they just need a little support to guide them through this season in their child’s life.
I have trained with Dan Hughes and completed his 32-hour course in Attachment Focused Family Therapy in 2013.  I will also be training with Karyn Purvis and her team this fall to deepen my skills in the TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) approach to working with children who come from hard places.

If you find yourself connecting with the information on this page, I invite you to contact me.

Please call me for a free 15-min consultation at 303-727-0291 or contact me here.

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