The Adoption Process Wheels Keep Turning…Ever…So…Slowly…
As I sit inside, watching the bad weather spiral outside, I thought, what better time than now to share a bit more about the headway we are making on the adoption front.
First, our most recent and probably most important lesson about adoption paperwork. Check and re-check all paperwork, even when we are not responsible for the finalization of said paperwork! Our agency is required to submit one document on our behalf, and it must be approved before the home study can start. Evidently they told us to fill it in incorrectly. This meant our documents have been returned without being approved, and we are officially delayed by about 3 weeks. Nothing can happen until this document is returned approved, so we sit and wait and are now hoping that it will be returned approved by Christmas. On the plus side, this means we have way more time to fill in our other paperwork. (Not that we need the additional time, but I’m looking for the bright side and this is all I can think of so I’m going to embrace it).
Second, our required medical assessments are done by our family doctor and ready to submit with the rest of the paperwork.
Third, our references have received their questionnaires to fill in. One has already filled it in and returned it. The other two are hopefully doing so within the next week. We don’t expect any issues related to our references as they all know how important it is to us that they return them promptly.
Fourth, our criminal record checks should arrive to us within the next few days. As neither of us have engaged in any sort of criminal activity, we see this as a required formality that doesn’t cause us any concern.
Fifth, mandatory adoption seminars are interesting. It was hard for us because we felt like we knew way to much information going in. Mr. MPB and I always do our homework, which means we know more than most people. I don’t say this to be arrogant, it is what it is and is very typical for the two of us. But, what it means is that while sitting there, there were moments of boredom. I started by answering questions when they were asked to the group, but quickly realized I was that annoying kid whose hand shot up to answer the question before the teacher actually finished the sentence. Needless to say, I didn’t like that person in school and I definitely didn’t want to be them now, so after a kick or two under the table from Mr. MPB I quickly smartened up.
Asides from being bored at times, the seminar was okay. We really didn’t learn anything too ground breaking given our extensive research. Our most significant observations and learnings from the day were:
- You never, ever complain about your social worker. For whatever reason, should you just not love them, you do not voice it as it will reflect poorly on you. Under no circumstances will your social worker change, and in fact, it will be a “significant red flag” if you voice any sort of concern. I never agree with a system where you cannot voice a problem with someone involved, so this irritates me. Not because we expect to dislike our social worker, but because what if we do? Honestly, I cannot even think of a good example of why this would occur, but I still think the system should be open a transparent and this clearly isn’t. While not said overtly, the message was very clear that there are power dynamics in the social worker / adoptive parent relationship, so we had better fall in line.
- All the hard questions that were asked were deferred and dodged. An example of one such question was: “when and how do you help a child understand really negative details about their birth parents should there be any – such as being a product of rape?” The response was, we will not go into that today, but should that occur it is definitely an age appropriate conversation and we can recommend some books on that subject. Seriously, some books? That’s the support that is offered? Hmmm…while it’s all great and dandy to help us with the easy stuff, but what if we are faced with the more difficult stuff? We know this is not something to worry about today, but it is definitely something to think about in terms of long term support from the adoption agency.
- One of our favourite parts of the day was meeting with an adoptive family and hearing there experience with a failed adoption. The heartbreak, the frustrations, etc. As this is one of our largest fears it was really informative for us to learn from there experience.
- Attachment is a significant issue for almost all international adoptions, as most often the children are 1 to 2 years old and coming out of institutions. Attachment works both ways – baby to parents and parents to baby. While the focus was on institutionalized children, we also discussed the importance of fostering early bonds for people like us who are adopting infants. The reality is baby-mother attachment starts I the womb, so baby-adoptive parent attachment takes a bit more time and effort. For infant adoption, this is minimal compared to those adopting older children from institutions, but it is still something really good to be aware of. The biggest suggestion they offered was that adoptive parents should not let anyone else help with basic care for the first few months. So things like feedings, diaper changes, etc. are always done by either myself of Mr. MPB. This is the best way to promote healthy attachment to form for everyone.
- International adoptions, including those from the USA, give us the opportunity to “turn down” a placement if it doesn’t feel right to us for any reason. The match process in the USA essentially lets the birth mother pick the adoptive parents, and the adoptive parents then have the opportunity to say yes or no. This means, we, as the adoptive parents are given the opportunity to review the birth mother’s medical file and therefore the child’s medical history with a local doctor before saying yes. This is really important to us and reinforced our decision to go to the USA.
As for my overall opinion on the value of the seminar – I suspect for most couples it would be very valuable. And it would have been more valuable for us to have attended 6 months ago when we were first considering adoption. That said, the few tidbits we picked up made it worth our time and we are happy we went.
And, the last adoption related update is that one should not put their hand up when an adoption agency asks for volunteers. I of course have volunteered. I am really excited to help out as I’ve been looking for a different type of volunteer activity, and this fits the bill. And more importantly, this is a great avenue to network with many more adoptive parents and birth parents. And of course it won’t hurt to make a positive impression with the agency.
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