Job Description of an Adoption Counselor

Adoption counselors need good listening and observation skills, as well as a compassionate heart.
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Adoption counselors match a child who needs a loving parent with an adult or couple that wish to enhance the quality of their life by raising a child. As such, fewer jobs offer the promise of greater satisfaction. If you’re considering a new career as an adoption counselor, it helps to learn more about what to expect. Most counselors work for orphanages, private adoption agencies and county or state social service departments.

    Step 1

    Adoption counselors must be knowledgeable about state adoption laws, the birth rights of mothers and fathers and paternity issues. Counselors who work with international adoptions also must be well-versed on the adoption rules in the child’s native country. Knowledge often is developed through experience. Along the learning curve, adoption counselors must know when to seek legal counsel so that they can best represent the interests of their clients.

    Step 2

    To bring compassion and understanding to their role, adoption counselors must have a good grasp of the emotional and psychological issues surrounding adoption. Many adoption counselors possess a degree in counseling, social work or sociology to prepare them for this role. Sharing experiences with co-workers and attending continuing education courses also fortifies a counselor’s range.

    Step 3

    Adoption counselors work closely with pregnant women who plan to give up their unborn child, ensuring that they are prepared to forfeit their parental rights and deal with the ensuing emotional consequences of the decision.

    Step 4

    Adoption counselors “qualify” adults who are interested in adopting a child. The counselor conducts extensive personal interviews with the adults and guides them through the required psychological evaluations to determine their suitability. The counselor oversees other required credentialing, including a credit and criminal background check. With this information in hand, the counselor begins the most rewarding aspect of the job: matching the adults with an available child.

    Step 5

    Adoption counselors also bring permanence to adults and families that have opened their homes to foster children. Foster homes are temporary in nature; after ensuring that the match is a loving, happy and healthy one, an adoption counselor can help make the arrangement permanent.


    • One of the best ways to get a sense of any job is to spend some time with someone working in the field. In this spirit, ask a local adoption counselor if you might “shadow” her for a day or two to get a real sense of the challenges and rewards of the job.

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