Provided by adoption therapist, Leslie Pate Mackinnon, who recently appeared on Katie Couric’s show as the “American Philomena.”
Leslie Pate Mackinnon, L.C.S.W., has maintained a private psychotherapy practice for more than 38 years and she speaks internationally on issues that impact families conceived through adoption and third-party reproduction. She has been on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts, and on CNN discussing the impact of the internet on adoption.
She recently appeared on Katie as the “American Philomena,” and shared what it was like to be separated from her firstborn son. That son, Pete, whom she’s been reunited with for 14 years, appeared on the show too. During the talk, Katie asked him if he’d had a longing to reconnect with Leslie.
His response is one many adoptees might relate to: “Always. You always do. You tread lightly because you don’t want to upset your adoptive family, you don’t want to make them think you’re unhappy, but there’s just something there. . .”
We had the pleasure of meeting Leslie at a Donaldson Adoption Institute sponsored screening of Ann Fessler’s film A GIRL LIKE HER last year. Her personal story is included in the film, and in Fessler’s book The Girls Who Went Away. Leslie was drawn to social work, and in particular adoption work, after placing her two firstborn sons for adoption when she was a teenager.
Today, she works with all members of the adoption triad and educates therapists as well. “I get so many calls from folks all over the country looking for an ‘adoption competent’ therapist that I developed a questionnaire to use when interviewing potential therapists,” she said.
The following are Leslie’s ten suggested questions to ask a potential therapist:
1. What is your experience working with the triad? Are you familiar with the term?
2. Have you worked mainly with adopted children, or also with adult adoptees and birth parents?
3. Do you have experience working with international and trans-racial adoptees?
4. What are the top books you would recommend to learn more about the issues inherent to adoption? (Primal Wound, and 20 Things Adoptive Kids Wished Their Parents Knew are two)
5. Since little is mentioned about adoption or foster care in undergraduate programs, have you received post-graduate certification in an adoption clinical competency program?
6. Do you attend conferences related to adoption needs and concerns? (These are typically held by the American Adoption Congress, Child Welfare League of America, and North American Council on Adoptive Children)
7. What are your thoughts on open versus closed adoption? (Should favor open across the board with the exception of very contentious situations.)
8. What is your experience with clients reuniting with their birth families? (Favorable in supporting search & reunion?)
9. What is your thinking about minor children meeting their birth parents? (Should support; obviously with supervision of adoptive parents)
10. Do you know of any local support groups for adoptive parents, adoptees or birth parents?