Research shows, and adoptive families are outspoken about the unintentional harm caused by some professionals – mental health providers and others – when professionals do not understand the dynamics and impact of adoption and previous trauma on children’s overall development.

In 2014 Families NOW sponsored California AB 1790, the nation’s first successful legislation to address this issue and provides leadership in its implementation. In 2015 we provided leadership to implement the legislation. A Blue Ribbon group of Stakeholders worked together to identify barriers to the provision of mental health services by mental health professionals with specialized training and experience in adoption / permanency  clinical issues and to make specific recommendations for voluntary measures available to state and local government agencies and private entities, as appropriate, to address those barriers.

California Department of Social Services chose to disseminate a portion of the work in the form of an All County Information Notice (ACIN) AB 1790 ACIN official draft

Families NOW has obtained funding from the Sierra Health Foundation to publish a more inclusive Guide and Toolkit for making permanency competent mental health services available and accessible to adoptive, guardian, kinship families, and others embracing a lifelong parental commitment to children not born to them.  Our target for publication of guide is September 2017.


Guide Intro 6-14-17

Definition – Adoption Competency 6-14-17

Behavioral Health Care Self Assessment Tool Draft 5-9-17

Behavioral Health Care Recommendations 5-9-17

Child Welfare Self Assessment Tool 5-9-17

Child Welfare Recommendations – Public 5-9-17

Tip sheet for Child Welfare 5-9-17

Tip sheet for Child Welfare-Foster Care-Adoption Agencies final5-9-17

Tip Sheet for Adoption-Permanency Families-Parenting after Foster Care v2


For more information on AB 1790: See Legislation » AB1790

What adopted children have in common with each other, and with all adopted children, is profound loss. Adoption can’t occur without loss. It shapes how our children see themselves, their families, and the world. It’s why traditional parenting and traditional therapy are so often ineffective, and sometimes downright damaging. We learned this first hand. We sat in the waiting room as instructed while our daughter was in therapy, not knowing what was being discussed or how best to support her. We followed the suggested behavior plan of removing privileges. We were trying to be good parents. But our 6-year-old with low self-esteem became our 6-year-old who was suicidal. Her tantrums lasted for hours and her migraines lasted for days. Taking things away from a child who has already experienced the most primal loss of not being raised by the woman to whom she was born doesn’t lead to good behavior; it fuels her belief that she never deserved anything in the first place.