You made the decision to parent and now find yourself looking into adoption. The more you read and talk to people, the more excited you become. However, you still have some concerns.
You will need the assistance of others to make your family dreams come true. This includes social workers, lawyers, courts and other professionals. Your choice of who will be on your professional team is critical.
Your adoption team should include an adoption attorney and/or a licensed adoption agency, a homestudy social worker and a medical consultant to review pre-natal, hospital and/or medical or orphanage records. Many families find adding a professional, as well as having a peer group of other adopting and adoptive parents who can help you through the challenges of the process and of parenting.
You may find your attorney, agency or social worker through a referral of a friend or other adoptive family or on the Internet. They will answer your questions, explain the process and detail the services they will provide. You need to ask them about their experience with the type of adoption you are doing, costs and time frames. You can check them out through local adoption support groups, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys or state adoption licensing offices.
Since you will receive advice and ongoing guidance from them throughout the legal adoption process, you must trust that they have your best interest at heart, are knowledgeable about the type of adoption you are doing and are ethical.
While every state and country has specific requirements and regulations, every adoption agency and attorney works a bit differently. Some provide more hand holding, other just do specific tasks.
After confirming they can assist you (within your state guidelines), you may ultimately choose them by a leap of faith, feeling that they are the right people to help you achieve your dream
You will work with a social worker during the homestudy and post placement phases of the adoption process. The homestudy is the pre-adoption assessment of you and you home in preparation to adopt. The post adoption phase includes the social worker revisiting you once your child is placed and writing reports that reflect your and your child’s adjustment. All reports are used at various points in the adoption process by attorneys, courts, adoption agencies in the US and agencies, courts and federal agencies in an international adoption.
As you parent, you can choose to seek additional support from your social worker or adoption agency. There may be questions about initial adjustments, especially with a non-infant. Children who have moved from one home or institution to your home will have reactions to new routines, foods, smells, languages and caretakers. Some children can get overwhelmed quickly. Without expressive language, their behavior may seem out of the ordinary or they may not be responding to you as you would like.
As you and your child adjust to one another (it is a two-way street), there may be additional questions you have. Perhaps it is when to talk about adoption, how to handle comments from others, how to help your child deal with peers at school or when to adopt again. Your social worker is a great resource for information or referral to local services. While some parents are fearful of sharing concerns or questions with those who helped with the adoption, these people know you best and have seen your transition to parenthood or a larger family.
During the process, trust your instincts regarding those helping you and any information they present to you. Ask questions, continue to read about and explore the adoption process and parenting.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents, parents-to-be and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA, a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series, currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen at her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL