There is a major adoption controversy happening locally right now – a very sad story with many people in the wrong. I intended to write about that today, but had difficulty getting anything on paper. I’m too emotionally connected to improving the adoption system to communicate any intelligent thoughts. Still wanting to write about the subject though, I’m going to talk about some more things to think about when considering adopting. It is important to prepare as much as you can and listen to the experts giving you advice – an adoption failure is devastating.
Remember: When I approach the adoption issue, I’m thinking about adoption through the foster care system. This is what my family has experience with. Similar posts: 10 Questions to Consider When Thinking About Adoption and 5 More Questions to Consider When Adopting.
The following questions come from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
Am I interested in adopting a sibling group? Would I consider adopting a sibling group in order to get the age of child I am interested in?
If you are going to be adopting through the foster care system, this question will likely come up at some point. Although I’ve heard some discouraging stories, we were never pressured to consider a sibling group in any way. I’ve mentioned before that our social worker sent us children outside our “specifications,” but they never pushed us. This is worth thinking about before though – really thinking about. Even if the child you are planning to adopt does not have siblings currently up for adoption, they may in the future. It is not unusual for one child to be cleared for adoption prior to their sibling group. Are you willing to consider taking more children? Are you willing to consider it if the issue arises in the future? If your answer is no, I advise staying away from children who have siblings in the system unless you are willing to continue to facilitate that relationship.
Would I be willing to have on-going contact (open communication) with a child’s birth parents?
Ties with the birth parents are severed once a child is adopted through the foster care system, but I want to talk about their foster parents. It is a thankless, wonderful job. Your child’s former foster parents can be a wonderful resource for you, if they are willing to be in contact (not are all). This is especially true if the child has been placed with them for a while or if they are the first placement for the child. Don’t shut the door on them just because he/she is “your” child now. Foster parents aren’t here to step on your toes.
Could I parent a child who may have been sexually abused, physically abused and/or neglected? Could I parent a child that has an on-going medical issue, may be developmentally delayed, or diagnosed with a developmental disability? Could I parent a child who may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero?
I want to make something very clear. Unless you have dealt with any of these issues personally before, you do not know. Okay? YOU DO NOT KNOW! There is no book, no class, and no degree in the world that can make you an expert on working with abused, neglected, delayed, or disabled children until you have experience working with those children. Even that specific child, as everyone is different. You will need help. You need to accept help and prepare for help. You cannot shut yourself off from others just because you are sure you know enough. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW!
The following questions come from the Adoptive Families of the Capital Region, Inc. (AFCR).
Is it possible to talk with families who have adopted from the program you are interested in? Can you talk to parents that did not have a completely positive experience with the agency?
Check into this for sure! If you are working with your local DHS, you will be able to find many people who didn’t have a completely positive experience (really, does a “completely positive” experience even exist in a situation like this?). Our local office has picnics for families considering adoption, foster families, and adoptive families. A simple call out to your friends on Facebook will probably turn up several people who have experience or know people who do. Follow up on these connections! There is nothing like hearing about the process from people on the other side. If nothing else, seek out blogs and articles where people talk about their experiences. Sure, the exact facts might not be the same, but DHS is DHS; it will be helpful.
What post adoption services are provided?
Let’s be honest here, probably nothing. When you walk out of the courthouse, you will be on your own to find a support system, find resources, and navigate the system (if you are still in it, like we are due to the little man’s disability). Again, don’t shut yourself off. Adoption is something to be proud of; you don’t have to pretend like it never happened and you aren’t still adapting to your new family. I mean, geez. We tell parents of newborns to seek help when they need it, the same applies to you.