Many people looking into adopting are unfamiliar with how the process works and are so eager to bring their new child home that they initially do not realize that there is a process that must be followed. Following this process may be painstaking, but it is necessary in order to make sure that every aspect of the adoption is legal and is handled with diplomacy. Remember, adoption is a difficult decision for birth mothers, and although adoptive parents may have been waiting a long while to reach a place where their adoption is moving forward, adopting a child is not as straightforward as some would believe.
Adoption Agency Orientation
The very first part of the adoption process is when a family approaches an adoption agency or attorney and attends their orientation. During an orientation, the family will have the chance to learn about how the process will work, what services the agency or attorney provide, as well as the fee schedule. This orientation is also an excellent time for adoptive parents to ask any questions about the adoption process including what that process is. This is where the adoptive family will make the decision to either sign up to adopt or find another agency or attorney that is more suitable for their needs.
Application Forms and Initial Fees
Once the orientation has been attended and a decision has been made by potential parents to proceed, the adoptive parents need to complete what’s called a “package.” This package will determine what type of adoption the family is looking at undergoing and what they hope to achieve during the process. This is also where the initial fees are paid and the ball really starts rolling.
Social Worker Assignment and Classes
Adoption & Foster Care Expert Jill Boyer describes how a social worker is then introduced to the family. This social worker will connect the family with classes or courses that prepare the family for going through the entire adoption process right up to assuming custody of the child. The family will also be given referrals to parenting classes or classes for special needs parenting, depending on what the family's preference is. The social worker also meets with the family to determine that adoption is the best fit for the family and helps connect them with the right support groups for the journey that they're about to embark on.
The Home Study Process
Once the family has begun taking classes and has established rapport with their social worker and agency, a home study is performed. This can be a nerve-racking experience for adoptive parents as there is already a fear of rejection and failure from years of unsuccessful fertility treatments and failed pregnancies. Adoptive mom Langka Treadwell helps to ease this anxiety by reassuring prospective parents by revealing the true goals of a social worker conducting a home study. She states that the main objective is not to make sure that the house is immaculately clean or that everything is completely baby-ready. The home study is a way to get adoptive parents prepared for bringing a child home and also a way to assist parents in enhancing their profile. Treadwell asserts that the objective of a home study is not to rule out applicants, but a way to help them successfully make it through the adoption process. She also reiterates that the scary scenes in the movies where a social worker enters a home with a clipboard and red marker are false representations of what a true home study entails. Parents should not shy away from the adoption process because of preconceived notions that the whole adoption is hinging on a clean refrigerator or freshly mowed lawn. This is a fallacy. If there are anxieties with this part of the adoption process, it is recommended that a family speak with their social worker, agency, or adoption attorney in order to learn more about what the home study is really all about.
Completing a Family Profile
After the home study has been conducted and all of the classes, interviews, and appointments have been completed, the social worker or adoption attorney will be able to construct a family profile that describes the family to birth mothers. This Family profile may include information about the families' ideals, their goals for the future, their preferences regarding the child they wish to adopt, as well as general information that can help a birth mother make the right decision for herself and her baby that makes her comfortable with her choice to put her child up for adoption.
The Wait and The Results
Once a birth mother has made her selection from family profiles, there is still much to be done. The social worker or attorney will submit information about the birth mother to the adoptive parents for their perusal. If everything matches up for both adoptive and birth parents, there will be a chance for the adoptive parents to meet with the birth mother and get to know her a little better. There will be plenty of time, in most cases, where the two sides will be able to acquaint themselves with each other. This is when the waiting will get a bit tiresome, but in the end, it will be well worth it. The more time that is given for each side to learn about one another, the more secure each member of the adoption will be with their decision. When the time comes, the adoptive family may even be able to attend the birth of the child, and in most cases, assume custody of the child. There will of course, be a grace period for when parental rights are transferred from the birth mother to the adoptive parents, but the wait is well worth it since everyone should be able to come away form the adoption process feeling confident with what they have done for that child.
The adoption process can seem extremely long, but it is important for parents to keep their focus on the goa, which is to provide a child with a wonderful future and the birth mother with the knowledge that the decision she has made is for the best. Having the right supports in place and refraining from rushing through the process will help to cement the foundation that has been laid for the rest of this child's life. It's a very worthy cause that should be undertaken with patience, communication, and understanding so that any regret or emotional turmoil on the part of the birth mother and adoptive parents is minimized as much as possible.