ACT hero

Adoption Coaching & Training

America World is excited to introduce a new program, Adoption Coaching and Training (ACT).  The purpose of this program is to expand support options for our families as they parent children from hard places.  

This program provides a multi-faceted approach to serve our adoptive families through training courses, support groups, and individualized coaching.

Adoption Coaching pairs an experienced adoption professional with a family to participate together in weekly sessions aimed at working through adoption-related issues.  Coaching sessions are individualized to meet the family’s specific needs. The sessions occur via video-conferencing or telephone, and can be scheduled around the family’s routine and needs.  While we always encourage families to seek local, face-to-face adoption-competent professional therapy, we recognize that this not always accessible because of distance, cost, or scheduling.  

Support Groups are offered periodically for small groups of families, who have completed similar adoptions, to come together in a common environment for learning and support.  These groups are led by experienced professionals through a video-conference format, and may incorporate a specific workbook or curriculum.

Training Courses are currently being developed to provide education for families and their support systems as they prepare for their adoption. Watch this website and our blog for more information in the coming year.

Our hope with ACT is to fill in a service gap by providing families with coaching and education that will help bring greater healing, joy, and success to their adoption journey. 


The first step is to email us at for more information.  Someone will be in touch within 1 to 2 business days to discuss your needs and our services further.   If we determine together that this program is a good fit, you will receive some documents that ask for more detail about your current situation and give you more complete information on the program.  Once you return the forms to us, you will be matched with a coach or enrolled in a support group, and you will coordinate with the coach or leader for the first appointment.  
You will pay for each session prior to its start, via credit card on our website.  Coaching sessions are typically scheduled weekly and last 45 minutes, but this can be adjusted based on your needs.  It is expected that the coaching would continue for 8-12 weeks, but you can stop at any time, or continue longer if it would be beneficial.  Support group meetings will vary in length and duration depending on the group structure.   See “Frequently Asked Questions” at the bottom of this page for more information.


Coaching sessions typically last 45 minutes and cost $75.  Groups, classes, or other types of related services may be offered occasionally at different rates.  We are not able to accept insurance.


The Impact of Adult Attachment on Adoptive Parenting
For:  Any family who has completed an adoption through AWAA
Date:  late June, date TBA
Leader:  Dr. Karen Hutchenson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and ACT Consultant
Cost:  Free!
RSVP & Description:  TBA (email

Reviewing and Implementing Successful Adoptive Parenting Strategies
For:  Any family who has adopted a child who is currently a toddler or pre-school age
Date:  for five sessions, Mondays at 8pm EST, June 12 – July 10
Leader:  Samantha Fuhrman, MSW, ACT Coach and AWAA-NY Director of Social Services
Description:  This five week series will walk through strategies in parenting younger adopted children and common issues in attachment, sensory and environmental needs, and discipline.  Each session will begin with an educational component that reviews TBRI principles, and then parents will have ample time to share about their challenges and joys while receiving support and advice from the group.
Cost:  $125 for the 5 week series
RSVP Deadline:  Friday, June 9 (email

Overcoming Post-Adoption Blues:   When Life after Your Adoption is Not What you Expected
For:  Parents who are struggling with anxiety, stress, guilt, worry, and more, following an adoption
Date:  for 5 sessions, every other Wednesday at 9pm EST, starting July 12
Leader:  Leslie Knight, MSW, ACT Coach and AWAA WA & OR Director of Social Services
Description:  Many parents report difficult feelings following an adoption as they strive to attain a “new normal” while working hard to bond with a child not born to them.  This group will help parents who are struggling like this to define and understand their feelings and find ways to take care of themselves while providing for all the needs of their newly adopted child.  Using a mix of education and supportive interaction to help normalize this adjustment, the eventual goal is to help parents attain full joy in the parent-child relationship.
Cost:  $125
RSVP Deadline:  Monday, July 10 (email

Where Am I From & Where Am I Going?
For:  Adopted teenagers age 14+ who what to connect with other adopted teens
Date:  Thursdays at 9pm EST, starting July 20
Leader:  Ashly Taylor, LPC, ACT Coach
Description:  Being a teenager is tough, and it can be even harder when your life story is different from lots of your peers.  Having a biological family that is different than the family you live with, or perhaps looking different or being a different race than your parents, can all lead to questions, especially as you figure out who you are and what you want to become.  Join other teens in the same situation each Thursday night at 9pm from your computer, tablet, or phone to talk about these and other questions.
Cost:  $25/session (3 session minimum)
RSVP Deadline:  payment must be received 24 hours before session (email

Understanding Sensory Issues in Your Adopted Child
For:  Parents of adopted children, or parents in the process of adopting
Date:  for three sessions, Tuesdays at 9pm EST, June 13 – June 27 
Leader:  Dr. Angie Lynch-Fannon, OTD, Occupational Therapist, ACT Coach
Description:  In this webinar, you will learn how to identify sensory processing issues in your child.  Dr. Lynch Fannon will cover how sensory integration develops in all of us, and how it can turn into a dysfunction.  General strategies that can be used at home will also be presented, as well as other reputable resources. 
Cost:  $75 for 3 week series
RSVP Deadline:  Monday, June 12 (email

Anchored in Hope
For:  Parents of adopted children, or parents in the process of adopting
Date:  Thursdays at 9pm EST, starting June 22
Leader:  Amber Lewis, LPC, ACT Coach and AWAA Clinical Supervisor
Description:  Parents come together to ask questions, get support, and help each other, under professional staff guidance, in this weekly open group.  Each week will focus on common issues in adoption such as consequences for misbehaviors, irrational fears, struggles with bonding, sleeping issues, and more, based on questions submitted by group members or ACT leadership.  Each session will end in a time of prayer as we lift each other up, express our gratitude, and petition for strength and wisdom as we walk this path of adoptive parenting together.
Cost:  $25/session (3 session minimum)
RSVP Deadline:  payment must be received 24 hours before session (email


Email if you have a specific request for a group or class.



Amber Lewis is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master's degree in counseling psychology, and is a trained as a TBRI© practitioner. She currently serves as a Clinical Supervisor with America World Adoption and has over 12 years of experience in international adoption, including being an adoptive mother herself. She is especially interested in helping families and their children work through grief  and identity issues as well as teaching parents skills in connecting with, correcting, and empowering their children.


Leslie Knight has a Master of Social Work degree and currently serves as the Director of Social Services for America World's Washington and Oregon offices. She has several years of experience working with state adoption and foster care services as well as serving as the director of a domestic adoption agency. As a personal foster parent graduate of the TBRI-based© HALO project, Leslie brings a unique and in-depth perspective to helping children and families.



Ashly Taylor is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master's degree in counseling. She has been working in the adoption field since 2005 and is currently also providing mental health counseling. She has worked as a birth mom social worker, domestic adoption agency director, and domestic and international home study and post-adoption service provider. She is especially interested in helping teens and their families cope with adjustment, relational,  and behavioral issues, as well as prepare for independent living.


Samantha Fuhrman has a Master of Social Work degree and currently serves as the Director of Social Services for America World’s New York office and Home Study Coordinator for the New Jersey office. Samantha has been working in the adoption field since 2012 and before that worked as a child and family therapist. She is a mother of three children, and her family is in the process of adopting their fourth child.  She is especially interested in coaching families who have children who are struggling with attachment, and also leading support and educational groups for families.



For coaching and consultation related to developmental delays, sensory needs, and related issues:

Dr. Angie Lynch Fannon has a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy and has been practicing for over 15 years. She has worked in schools, clinics, homes, as well as overseas orphanages, group homes and centers for adults with disabilities. Her specialties include working with children with sensory processing disorder, autism, and those adopted from international orphanages.




Important Note:  This is not a crisis intervention service.  If you have an emergency, please contact 911. 




What is "Adoption Coaching"?

Adoption Coaching is designed to help adoptive parents and their children successfully adjust to an adoption, and to assist parents in helping their child heal from a traumatic past.  We rely heavily on the principles purported in Trust Based Relational Intervention©, and guide parents in learning these concepts and applying them in common situations in their home.

Adoption Coaching is NOT counseling or therapy, and we are not equipped to address psychological disorders, marital issues, addictions, or crises.  If these issues arise in a significant way, we will help you to find a local psychologist or counselor licensed in your state of residence to help you address those issues.  In some cases, we may be able to coordinate services with your local professional so that they can help your family with these issues in collaboration with us as we help with adoption-related concerns.

Who can participate?

Families who used America World for all or part of their adoption services are eligible to participate in ACT.  We are equipped to help with general adjustment and parenting following an adoption. We encourage families who have local adoption competent professionals in their area to explore and utilize those services if possible, because meeting with someone face-to-face has benefits over electronic, long-distance communications; however we recognize that local adoption-competent services are not always readily accessible.  If your family is experiencing frequent crises or risk of harm, local services aimed and direct intervention are likely to be more effective than electronic communications, and we would not be able to serve you in those situations. 

What benefits can I expect?

It is our desire that every family and child feel significantly bonded, comfortable, and safe in their home.  Sometimes that can be a difficult accomplishment in adoption.  We hope that through our work together parents are able to provide healthy connection, empowerment, and correction to their adopted children, so that all family members feel safe and bonded and completely comfortable in their home and the relationships within it.

Who, what and how long?

Typical coaching sessions consist of one or both parents discussing their situation with a coach, and learning targeted skills, in a weekly 45-minute session.  We believe it is almost always better, in two-parent homes, if both parents participate together.  It is hard to predict how many sessions will be needed, but it is expected that 3-6 months of weekly sessions will provide a great deal of benefit for your family.  The frequency of sessions may decrease as things improve.

Occasionally, if your child is old enough to benefit, we may do a coaching session with him or her on basic communication, relational, social, and/or attachment skills.  Or, we may involve siblings in similar discussions.  Sometimes, it can be beneficial for the whole family to participate in group discussions and activities aimed at learning new skills and increasing connections.

Furthermore, if you have significant others involved in your child’s care, such as teachers, day care providers, grandparents, etc., we can, with their consent, provide coaching and educational services to them as well.

Lastly, we occasionally provide group sessions for parents with similar needs.  These group sessions may be support-based (mostly discussion), skills-based (use of workbook), or a combination of the two.  Groups are typically limited to a certain number of participants and run over a specified time frame (~6-12 weekly sessions).  Occasionally we may host more “open” groups that run continuously and are open to new participants regularly.

Groups, family meetings, or child sessions may be longer or shorter based on the goals and plan for the sessions.  The frequency and cost of these meetings may vary also. 

How will we communicate in the session?

Our preferred method of communication is video-conference.  We have arranged an account with GoToMeeting, a HIPPA-compliant, video-conference platform, to serve as the communication provider for ACT.  Once a session is scheduled, you will be sent a link by email which you will click to connect to the video-conference at the specified time through your computer, tablet, or most smartphones.  You will be able to use a webcam to make yourself visible on the screen, and your coach will do the same.  You will be able to use the audio functions through your electronic device to talk and hear, or alternatively, a phone number will be provided for you to call into the session if that works better for you.  If you have difficulty using this platform, we can arrange for a tutorial, or we can conduct our sessions simply by phone.

What are the qualifications of the person I will be working with?

ACT coaches are America World staff members with training in adoption issues.  Most have Master’s degrees, experience in counseling or coaching, and training in Trust Based Relational Intervention© or other adoption-specific concepts and methods.  Your coach will give you more information about his or her credentials and experience during your initial contact.

How much will it cost, and how do I pay?

The fee for a 45-minute, 1 family/1 coach session is $75.  Costs for groups and other types of sessions will vary based on number of participants and length of session.  All fees will be disclosed in advance, and fees are to be paid in advance, at the time the session is scheduled.

Online payment of fees is preferred in order to have quick confirmation of payment.  A small convenience fee for online payments will apply.  Payments may also be made by check; checks should be mailed to America World Adoption, 6723 Whittier Ave, Suite, 202, McLean VA 22101, at least two weeks in advance of the session in order for payment to be confirmed.

All payments must be confirmed prior to the session, or the session will have to be rescheduled for a later date.

What if I need to cancel or reschedule?

Please give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel or change an appointment.  If you cancel an appointment with at least 24 hours notice, the prepaid fee may be applied to the next session, but this can occur only 1 time per 2 months.   A subsequent cancellation with more than 24-hours notice in a two-month period will result in forfeit of the fee, and the client must pay for the next session to reschedule.  Fees for appointments that are cancelled with less than 24 hours notice, or not attended at all (“no-show”) will be forfeited, and the client must pay for the next session to re-schedule. Clients who frequently cancel or do not attend appointments will review with staff their situation and motivation, and be given outside referrals that may better meet their needs and discontinue services with ACT.

If a client arrives late for an appointment, no refund is given for time not spent in session, nor is the coach obligated to continue the session past the normally scheduled end-time.  Staff is not obligated to remind clients of session times.

How do I contact my Coach?

Email is the best way to reach your coach, and he or she will provide you with an email address in your initial contact.  You may also call the main AWAA office at 800-429-3369 during normal business hours to have a phone message relayed to your coach.  Coaches are instructed to return all calls and emails within two business days unless notification is given that they are unavailable for a certain amount of time.  If necessary, you may reach out to an America World Clinical Supervisor, the ACT Coordinator, or Director of Affiliate Offices at the above phone number for any urgent needs during normal business hours.

What if our family has a crisis or emergency?

If you have an emergency, please call 911 or report to a hospital emergency room.   Staff are not available on a 24-hour basis, nor are we able to respond immediately to a crisis.  

How do we stop our sessions if my family is doing better, or the sessions are not helping?

Your coach will periodically review your progress with you in your session.  This is an opportunity for the client and the coach to be transparent and forthright in evaluating the success of the work together.  You do not have to wait for your coach to initiate this conversation, but instead are encouraged to discuss this at any time you desire in session.  Ideally, you and your coach will make plans together for decreasing the frequency and eventually stopping your sessions as your family meets its goals.  However, if you or your coach feels that sufficient progress is not being made for any reason, it is encouraged that you talk about different options that may be better.  You are free to stop the sessions at any time.  Any prepaid fees will be refunded, except as noted under our cancellation policy. 

How do I file a complaint if I am not satisfied?

If you are dissatisfied with the services you are receiving for any reason, please talk with your coach or another America World staff member about your concerns.  Additionally, or in place of talking with staff, you may file a grievance.  You may ask for a specific form from staff, or send an email to an executive staff member at America World.  Grievances will be reviewed and addressed by the Performance Quality Improvement team.

What about privacy and confidentiality?

All information you share is confidential within ACT staff and supervisors, except as follows: 

•    You consent to the release of information by written statement.
•    There is a court order or law enforcement entity requiring the release of information.
•    Child abuse, neglect, criminal activity, or harmful intention is suspected.  If we are concerned about any type of child abuse or neglect, or other imminent harm, we are legally and ethically obligated to report that information to authorities.
•    Charges or a complaint are brought against this coach or agency related to the client.