By the Staff of Adoption STAR
The agency’s most important daily job is to find families for children. Even though this is often stated, it is probably the most misunderstood statement. The job of a reputable agency is not to find children for families, but families for children.
When an individual/couple registers with an agency and obtains a home study, they are paying for a service: an adoption home study. There is never a guarantee that a child will be referred to them. No one can be “hired” to “find” someone a child. That sounds scary for a number of reasons especially if you are someone who is hoping to adopt. You might not be able to imagine that the adoption process works. Will you ever adopt? Let us preface this by saying clearly, if you stick with the process, you will adopt! The hard part is that we don’t know when. But none of us would be in the adoption field if we didn’t see it work and believe that it does work. You are meant to be a parent. Perhaps your baby has not yet been born yet. Staying positive and working with your adoption agency is the key to reaching your goal of adoptive parenthood.
We thought it might be interesting to learn about the “differences” between prospective adoptive parents as no one client is the same as another. No two prospective adoptive parents are alike and our illustrations cannot include everyone, but the idea is for you to determine, “What type of prospective parent are you?”
One type of prospective adoptive parent takes our advice to heart: Adoption is a journey that requires you to participate and believe in. These clients may have already handed in their profile for expectant parents to consider even before their home study is complete! They frequently “tweak” their profile whether or not it is suggested. They are excited to hear about other options to creatively present themselves to birth mothers such as preparing a DVD which allows them to have their profile “come alive” with music, photos, video and graphics. They may post their profile online, create “baby cards” and hand them to everyone they meet telling them they are looking to adopt! They also revisit their grids frequently and challenge themselves with hard questions related to a child’s race or ethnicity, drug exposure, mental health issues within the child’s birth family, etc. They do their own homework by way of talking to other adoptive families, speaking to a pediatrician, etc. They may chat on the online group and even more importantly they join SOFIA, the adoptive family support group and meet many new friends. “They” will tell you that the wait is not easy, but taking control makes the process all the more special.
Another type of expectant adoptive parent does much of the above but also finds a hobby or projects that they can work on before they become parents. One adoptive mom found great enjoyment in knitting and during her “nesting period” created many beautiful blankets and donated them to babies being placed for adoption. Several other adoptive moms spent their “before parenthood period” volunteering to help spread the word about the agency by disseminating literature around their community to doctor’s offices, clinics, schools, etc. One couple trained for a marathon together, using the act as a metaphor for the adoption journey. Prospective moms and dads can also work together on household projects needing to get completed. “They” will tell you that throwing themselves into projects that required planning and energy during the adoption process, made them feel healthy and ready for parenthood even thought they didn’t know when it would be.
Another type of prospective adoptive parent may not have handed in their profile yet though they are home study approved or haven’t tweaked their profile if it has been suggested. They have not connected with other adoptive families or the support groups available. Sometimes they are slow to respond to agency messages and may be reluctant to process other options that might enhance their opportunities for child placement. “They” may be experiencing other issues that they have not yet shared with the agency and feel more overwhelmed about the process.
No matter the level of involvement with the agency or the process it is simply not healthy to just wait for the phone to ring (waiting for what many refer to as “the call”). Actively participating in your adoption journey is the way to go! It is not always easy, but in the long run it is worth it. We find “healthier” and “more prepared” adoptive parents when the prospective adopter takes control of their adoption path. Several articles have been written about this time in your life.
For those of you still overwhelmed by this process or the thought of it, we would recommend no longer thinking of yourself as a “waiting” parent, but rather a “prospective” parent. With this change, perhaps you can begin to view yourself as an active participant in becoming a parent. Take these examples to best understand our meaning:
If you were looking for a new job, you will need to “tweak” your resume, you will need to prepare yourself for interviews that may include research, continued education, etc. Or perhaps you want to lose weight. What do you need to do? I know we don’t really want to know what to do but the answer is we need to actively work on it. We need to be aware and educated about nutrition and calories and most importantly exercise. Weight loss won’t just happen on it’s own. We need to go out and reach that goal for ourselves. Planning to become a parent is quite similar.
It is our hope that this article will inspire you to really get involved in your adoption journey. To believe in adoption and to understand that by having a home study does not mean you will receive an immediate placement, but rather view it as your ticket to get more involved in the process. Work with us! We will give you many ideas and tasks if you are interested. Additionally, Adoption STAR has published 25 ways to handle the “wait” and hope you will take the time to review it and perhaps add to it!
We also understand that this article may frustrate you! We have no desire to upset you or discourage you in the least. However if you feel this way, please examine why you are feeling this way? Yes, you have been through a lot. You most likely have experienced several losses already. We have clients who have miscarried or have had children pass away. Perhaps you have had several “almost adoptions” but the match fell through before placement. These losses are great. These losses cannot be easily healed.
By now your life experiences have probably taught you that it is up to you to look ahead and feel excited about the adoption process. It is crucial to view the bumps in the journey as part of the learning curve and to continue to believe and participate in the process.
Adoption STAR appreciates that both the decision to adopt and the process of adoption can be difficult for many individuals and families. The adoption process is very often filled with moments of hope, as well as moments of disappointment. Applicants who view the process as discouraging or have an overall negative view of the process are more likely to feel unhappy and unsuccessful in the program. Planning for the possibility that plans will change is a key element to keeping calm and stress free while going through the adoption process. Applicants who remain optimistic and view the adoption process as a journey filled with learning experiences are more apt to feeling happy and successful in the program. Please reach out to us if you feel you need more support!
Read More on What is Happening at Adoption STAR: Our Calendar of Events for 2013