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Infant Adoption Training:
What You Need to Know to Empower Yourself: Module 3: The Role of Counseling

-Introduction to the infant adoption training
-Module 1: Introduction
-Module 2: Background on Adoption
-Module 4: Wrap Up & List of Readings
The readings will be listed in both Module 1 and Module 4. They are in .pdf format for quick access.

The course texts will be in regular font. The challenges to the program's premises will be in blockquotes.

The course texts will be in regular font. The challenges to the program's premises will be in blockquotes. Introduction to Module 3

Every day in counseling we are asked to find answers to very complex situations that appear to have no solutions. Often crisis pregnancies fit into those situations.

In order to help clients, we must remain focused on the possibility that a "good" solution can always be found, but it may not be an "easy" solution. Getting a client to a point where she can select the solution that is right for her often requires reframing the problem. This means adequate preparation on the part of the counselor, finding the place of most potential, and believing there is more than one right answer.

It either has a solution, or it doesn't have a solution. First, it doesn't have a solution, and then suddenly, it's a hard solution. Then it's being able to rearrange the words into making it something that has a solution.

You see how this is manipulative? Preparing a person to make a solution that they would never choose of their own will.

Problem, I'm hungry. I'd like to eat something, but the only thing you left on the table was a piece of moldy orange peel.

Solution: It's actually something very nutritious. If you stay in this room for a very long time, without food, you'll likely start to get sick. Eating the orange (reframing) is actually good, because it's what you need to do both to stay healthy by providing vitamin c, and also the only way we'll let you out of this building.

Well, since you put it that way, maybe eating a moldy orange peel isn't such a bad thing.

So, you think that eating an orange is a good opportunity for you then?

In Module 3, we'll be exploring:
the role of counseling in this process;
some of the attributes of good counseling; and
examples of tried and true counseling tools that help a counselor prepare a pregnant client to make a fully informed decision

The Role of Good Counseling

Select from the options in left-hand panel to hear what counselors and birthparents have to say about the Choice Model. - Video Unavailable
Good counseling of any kind depends on the counselor's ability to help the client think simply, reasonably and realistically in the midst of chaos and complexity. This is called "critical thinking".

Critical thinking is an important element in the helping process. Checking facts and asking questions will keep the process moving forward in an efficient and effective way.


helps both client and counselor identify the problems and priorities. Otherwise, the process could become imbalanced and deteriorate into a session of high emotions and little progress.

To help us put these concepts into context, we're going to use the case study of Lisa, which you should download now.
-Lisa Case Study


What it means: Gaining objective knowledge by checking the facts.

How we apply it: Pay attention to what's right in front of you.
What are the facts?
List about 5-6 points related to the facts that you might want to note about Lisa.

What it means: An insatiable hunger to know more.
What it means: Paying attention with all of your senses.

How we apply it: Keep asking questions!
If you were a curious person, what questions would you keep asking?
List 5-6 questions to ask Lisa.

In other words, pretend you care. Dead silence is awkward, so make sure you're prepared to ask questions. Not only will it keep her from asking you questions, it will impress her low self esteem to momentarily believe someone would care about her so much.

Because, as you noticed, curiousity isn't on the qualifications list for being a parent. Neither is being creative.

What it means: Not taking anything for granted.
How we apply it: Cultivate some good healthy doubt!
>What parts of Lisa's story or the conclusions she's drawn would you challenge/verify?

List 5-6 challenges/questions.

A key element of working with clients facing an unplanned pregnancy is to help them take responsibility for their situation and find good solutions. But what if they see themselves as a victim, or they see their pregnancy as an accident? How can critical thinking help?

Honestly, people make mistakes sometimes. People who are saying they accidently got pregnant, guess what, it happens. ALL the Time. Sometimes, women are victims. Then they turn into survivors. However, when in a crises pregnancy, if this happens to be in one, if a woman hasn't resolved the issue leading her here, then adoption can become another situation in which the woman will become another victim and need to survive.

These people are predators.

First, review the additional information section of the Lisa Case Study you printed out earlier.
This information tells us that Lisa is exhibiting a "victim" mentality.


A victim sees circumstances as accidents and thinks she is powerless to change and find solutions. By thinking more critically, a client can see her role, her choice, and her involvement in the decision-making process. Critical thinking can move her from thinking of herself as a victim to seeing herself as a responsible decision maker.

And this mentality is very dangerous, because they have other people making decisions for them. Remember, this is an opportunity to get the pregnant woman to GIVE UP her Rights and hand over the responsibility to others so that she is not in control any more and will become powerless yet again.

In addition, if this is a crises situation, it is likely that the woman is in some kind of survival mode, or defense mode. To take her out of her emotions and turn it into a logical equation doesn't help her resolve the crises, it does distance her from her own emotions.

The responsible decision-making model looks something like this:


Clear, logical and realistic thinking can help Lisa see that she has both the power and the tools to make a fully informed choice.

How can we help Lisa get there?

How can we convince Lisa to give up her power again?

Accident, Mistake or Choice
The Accident, Mistake and Choice model is a quick and effective tool to get the client using critical-thinking skills and empowers her to change her circumstances. In its simplest form, it is a short quiz that helps clients differentiate among the three concepts:

Accident: an unintended act with an unintended result.

Mistake: an intended act with an unintended result.

Choice: an intended act with knowledge of the risk involved.

Once she understands the difference, she may be better able to accept her pregnancy and the responsibilities that go with it, including making some difficult choices about her options.

Just remember that choices are FULLY Informed with all knowledge of risks involved.

Take the following 10-question quiz to see how you interpret the differences between accident, mistake or choice. You may not agree with our answers completely, and that's okay - as long as you're using critical thinking in your interpretations.

It's the same with clients. You and she may not always agree. Remember: Be tolerant of differences of opinion, but make sure that the process of a client thinking through her unique situation remains critical.

Remember, if she's in a crises situation, try to use your upper hand at logical thought.

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

As we've discussed, the client is best able to make an informed decision when she is empowered to accept the responsibility for her actions. This is often a process of exploration that includes an examination of all the information available, including what she comes with and what the counselor provides.

All people make better decisions when they are empowered. But, empowerment includes knowledge of all options, a building of self esteem, and support.

The following poem by Portia Nelson provides the good analogy for the trial-and-error process that eventually leads to a client taking responsibility for and control of her situation.

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost...I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in...It's becoming a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

The Choice Model

Another way to help the pregnant client work through the decision-making process is called the "Choice Model."

This may help the client focus quickly on the fundamental choice in options counseling and adoption practice: to parent or not to parent. Required Reading:
-The Choice Model

In this model, all of the members of the adoption triad are connected, but also separate and distinct parties. And their rights and wishes can be respected without creating an artificial and unrealistic tie/bond.

There is no triad unless she chooses to place the child with these adopters.

Using this model, the pregnant client who chooses an adoption plan and the adoptive parent(s) can focus their attention on their primary tasks as responsible adults without sacrificing the "best interests of the child."

Regardless of what the mother chooses, she will surely be thinking of the best interests of her child. All mothers do when they make any decision. It is never a decision, "Gee, I think this would be in the child's worst interests, let's do that one.

The challenge facing the woman who chooses not to parent is to make a life after her decision.
Certainly there will be some grief and pain involved. However, it will be far less if we take the time to help her understand the power of her choice.

Absolutely incorrect. There are plenty of women who were told of this particular "choice" model, and they have extreme grief and pain. It just comes after the realization, ie. when the brainwashing stops.

Basic Techniques and Tools
We've covered a lot of ground about our primary goals and responsibilities as counselors or staff in a counseling setting: making sure the client has all the information she needs to make a fully informed decision, and, to the extent possible or required, helping her work through the decision making process and what comes after in terms of her life and future.

Because strangers who have a vested interest in the outcome of a mother's decision should be counseling her on working through her decision process.

Sometimes it may seem overwhelming, but here are some key points and guidelines to keep you focused and in the proper mindset to best help your clients:

Overwhelming for counselors and adopters? Imagine how the pregnant mom feels.

Critical thinking should be at the foundation of what we practice as counselors and what our clients use to make a fully informed decision.
If we use critical thinking with clients, we can help transform that client from seeing herself as a victim to seeing herself as a responsible decision maker, which will aid in the decision making process.
Transform, in other words manipulate and alter. This is exactly what cults do. They prey on people with low self-esteem. In a moment of weakness, they switch around the words, boost esteem, and then manipulate words to get people to do what THEY want. People who are in a crises need support, they don't need people to make decisions for them.

The logic of language can play a key role in improving communication and understanding adoption. Remember to use accurate language, and language that is appropriate to the age and cultural background of your client.
Accurate, meaning to the adopters language benefit.

Options counseling and adoption practice should be client-focused and child-centered.
client focused = focus on the client's issues to guide her into a position of making decisions that center on the relinquishment of the infant.

The client needs to focus quickly on the fundamental choice in options counseling and adoption practice: to parent or not to parent. Once she is able to focus on that piece, the process will move forward more efficiently.
Contrary to the belief of this training, a pregnant mom does not need to make a decision right away. The key, however, is that if they are forced to make a decision early to place their child, then they will not be preparing to parent. If they decide to parent, then the counselor or adopter can play on her insecurities while she is pregnant and to urge the adoption "option".

The client may need even more help after the decision has been made. Always be prepared to continue the process or to refer her to someone who can help her take the next steps to a successful future.
Because she's going to want to do things, like kill herself. The first year is the hardest. And, she will be damaged for the rest of her life regretting placing the child.

Also, there are revocation periods that counselors and adopters want to prevent. So, placate the mom until she's past that period. Otherwise, there is also a five year restriction on the statues of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the adopters and adoption agency which they also try to prevent. That is why they will tend to send pictures, etc, for the first three to five years and then cut off contact.

There is always room for improvement! Use critical thinking to help identify how we can design counseling methods that are effective, creative and caring.

Basically, we need to think, watch our language, be creative, and care about what we do so that we can help the clients entrusted to our care for as long as she needs that help.

In other words, you need to play a role to fake out the pregnant mom so she trusts the adopters and adoption agencies until she signs the papers believing everything they said. Then, they leave you high and dry in tears and suicide attempts. Then they stop caring. Cause they got what they wanted. They don't care about you, they care about their dream of being parents to a baby.

Select from the options in left-hand panel to listen to what counselors and birthparents have to say about counseling during and after the decision-making process.
Maintaining a Critical-thinking Mindset
As weve discussed, our primary goal as counselors or staff in a counseling setting is to help the pregnant client move toward making a fully informed decision to the best of our ability.
Notice it states "our" ability, rather than her ability, because she's not the one making an informed decision.

In order to do that, we use tools and techniques that promote critical thinking by both the counselor and the client.

The following tips will keep you in a caring, critical-thinking mindset with each client. Remember - realism, curiosity and skepticism!
See the person, not the problem or theory.

Because, it's not about trying to solve the problem, cause adopters can get too emotional about the outcome. So, stay focused.

Be curious about alternative explanations or approaches.
Or, at least pretend to be.

Delve deeply and broadly to see the entire person and the entire situation.
To make the pregnant mom think that adopters and adoption agencies Care.

Challenge "realities" when they don't make sense. Be skeptical.
And, use language to manipulate to your desired outcome.

Use your common sense to understand and challenge what is told to you.
Because, this woman is probably telling you a story from her emotions. Stop it, cause intuition may guide her to parent.

Don't confuse thinking critically about the facts and making value judgments.
Cause, then it will come out how much adopters and agencies hate these pregnant women who are slime, crackwhores, and future welfare cases. And, a pregnant mom who is disrespected might not choose adopters who hate her, because they are likely to hate the child, or urge the child to hate her.

We need to help the client overcome feelings of being a victim, find genuine empowerment and help her make responsible decisions.
Keep her a victim so she won't be able to access her emotions and give up her power all over again.

Clients cannot afford to have counselors overlook uncomfortable or unpleasant facts when making this serious a decision.
Next we'll look at some tried-and-true tools to help promote the critical-thinking process for both you and your clients.

Tools: Ten-Minute Solutions
We've discussed in general terms the processes involved with helping a client to a point where she can make a fully informed decision about her crisis pregnancy.

But what tools do you use to collect information, educate the client, and agree on a referral when you only have a short period of time?

It doesn't take a miracle; it takes ten-minute solutions. Counselors were asked to share the tools and techniques they have used in options counseling that were brief and effective.

Here we share some of these techniques and invite you to try them out. Several you will recognize as part of earlier modules.

Select the tool from the left-hand screen for specific information and a link to download tool materials.

You may want to create your own workbook or reference notebook by printing out these and other PDF doc
-Extraordinary Choices Worksheet
Critical thinking involves curiosity, skepticism and realism in finding "extraordinary choices". By pushing, prodding and poking, the solutions can be identified, problems/mistakes can become opportunities, and patterns changed.

By breaking a pregnant woman down at her most vulnerable point, one can access her deepest core and break her.

The "Extraordinary Choices" worksheet is designed to help you brainstorm two or three more creative ways to do the everyday tasks of work at centers that serve pregnant clients. These ideas can help both you and the client.

The sheet provides a list of functions and aspects of the health care program. It also covers elements such as setting or environment, information and referral resources, agency relationships and client contact, if the functions section is too clinical. These are areas that any staff member, even those who are not counselors, can change for the better.

And, remember: By changing your perspective from ordinary to extraordinary, great things can happen for you and the client.

Questions to get you thinking:
How do you greet a client?
What does the office/setting look like?
Possible Questions to Explore the Adoption Option
This worksheet contains questions that a counselor can use to help raise the option of adoption to a client in a crisis pregnancy situation. The questions are designed to determine whether a client may be open to exploring the adoption option, and also helps lay the groundwork for a realistic evaluation by client and counselor of where the client is today in the decision making process.

People in crises should not be making decisions that will affect them and their child for the rest of their lives.

Remember to review the questions before use with each client, as some questions may not be appropriate. It is always important to tailor questions to your individual style, while also taking into consideration the individual aspects of your client's situation, including age and cultural background.

Remember to be hip, man.

These questions may also alert the counselor to certain barriers to adoption that may need to be addressed in more detail.

addressed / Corrected / changed to accurate language of being open to adoption.

-Possible Questions to Explore the Adoption Option
-Mech Adoption Interest Inventory
As part of his research, Dr. Mech developed an adoption inventory, which can be an effective and non-threatening tool to open thoughtful discussion of adoption.

In one study, Dr. Mech found that as many as 51 percent of clients showed some willingness to consider adoption.

He also found that:
Although young adult women are most open to adoption, women of all age ranges were open to some benefits offered by adoption.

Well, now that you put it that way, I can see a benefit to eating a moldy orange peel.

So, you're saying that eating an orange may give you some benefit?

While race was one of the strongest indicators of a client's interest in adoption, it was not statistically significant.
Women with existing children were also open to adoption.
The Mech inventory we have included contains English and Spanish inventory sheets that can be copied for use by clients, as well as response rates of survey participants for your knowledge and information.

-Mech Adoption Interest Inventory

The Choice Model
The Choice Model was presented earlier in this program as an example of a critical-thinking tool that can help a pregnant client make the decision to parent or not to parent.
As opposed to forever lose her child. When counselors slowly build a bridge to the intended outcome, it is important to build it slowly. Start of with whether or not you choose to parent... cause, to immediately think of whether to forever lose your child may seem like a big step. And, adoption counselors don't want you to see that.

This model gives us three separate-but-equal parties, each with entirely different needs and facing entirely different challenges. We believe this model:
Satisfies the child's needs, especially the need to bond and connect with a permanent family.
Allows the adoptive family (parent) to create a safe and simple home and family for a child.

Great way to aspire to something that has not yet occured. Prospective Adopters aren't parents.

Allows the birthmother to move ahead with her life and pursue the future that may conflict with a parenting role.
Except, that even her body will remember, and there is never any moving on. There will always be the memory of being a mother, only after losing a child to adoption, will never be able to resolve the not-mother paradox.

It also is a tool that helps the pregnant client put her situation into perspective. She can move from an inaccurate perspective to an accurate perspective of what adoption means:

I chose not to parent vs. I gave my baby away

I chose to parent my child vs. I wanted a child

She chose not to parent vs. She gave ME away!

accurate oppressive language.

We are not redefining adoption. We are showing another perspective, another lens. Adoption is simply a means of ensuring that the child has caring and responsible parent(s) when the biological family is unable to fulfill these responsibilities to the child.

They are re-defining adoption, they are simply rewording it. Language is a powerful tool of manipulation and control. There is no escaping that fact.

If Parents Were Hired, Would You Apply?
This resume of parenting was presented earlier in the program. It provides the counselor with a tool to encourage clients to consider what the job of parenting entails and can help clients overcome the barrier of "parenting is bliss".

This version includes a blank worksheet for client use.

-If Parents Were Hired, Would You Apply? (worksheet)
Questions to Ask Yourself if You Are Pregnant
These are secondary questions designed to explore the issues that will answer the primary question of "Will I parent this child?"

And, designed to overwhelm with questions not quite relevant. Think of what is needed now, not later. Things always change for later.

The counselor and client should always keep in mind the primary question ("Will I parent this child?") as the secondary issues are explored. Not all questions will be appropriate for every client. Also, remember to use your own style to phrase the questions. These are stated in the form of a polite command because it generally elicits more information from a client. The purpose of this document is to give suggestions for issues that commonly arise, not to structure the interview.

Because, ultimately, that is the only question that the adopters and adoption counselors care about.

Each client is different, and it is critical that you treat the woman in front of you rather than some preconceived notion of a problem pregnancy.

-Questions to Ask Yourself if You Are Pregnant

Again, to overwhelm. Think of the present.

What Do I Say to a Client Who Says...?
This worksheet was presented earlier in the program.

This worksheet provides possible responses to the issues and barriers that generally arise within options counseling related to adoption. As options counselors interested in a client making a fully informed decision, we want to help a client determine if her reasons for rejecting adoption are based on correct assumptions and valid barriers. By considering them prior to a discussion with a client, it will be easier to assist her.

It will be easier to manipulate her, and to challenge her decisions for wanting to parent, and ultimately break her down so that she "chooses" adoption.

-What Do I Say to a Client Who Says?

No part of this website should be considered legal advice. All information is for general use.