For 31 Days I am blogging about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts here. On the weekends during this series I am inviting guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This weekend, Brianna is sharing her practical preparation for adoption.
Before Mohit ever agreed to adopt, I had purchased the book, You Can Adopt, which is information compiled by the editors of Adoptive Families magazine about all the different types of adoptions along with anecdotes from adoptive families. It was a pretty easy decision for us to adopt from India. We figured it would be easier for Mohit’s family to accept a child if he/she shared the same cultural background and looked similar to them. We then chose a placing agency based on the recommendation of a coworker of Mohit’s who had recently adopted from India. Since our placing agency was out of our local area, we also had to find a homestudy agency, which I did by Googling adoption agencies and then calling around to ask about the process and their rates.
Once Mohit had decided he wanted to pursue adoption, I started the long and tedious process of collecting massive amounts of paperwork for the dossier. We had to collect
- birth certificates (mine, Mohit’s, and Ethan’s),
- our marriage certificate,
- Mohit’s naturalization certificate,
- employee verification letters,
- financial statements and tax documents for the last three years,
- background clearances from every state we had lived in since we were 18 (three for me and four for Mohit),
- medical clearances (mine, Mohit’s, and Ethan’s),
- fingerprints (both local and federal),
- recommendation letters from three (or four depending on the agency) families,
- and the epitome of what I consider to be pure bureaucracy – a letter written by Ethan explaining how he felt about adoption. Now remember, Ethan was 20 months old at the time. He was barely speaking let alone writing anything! So our agency said he could draw a picture, which consisted of red and blue scribbles across a printed picture of an airplane.
Not only did ALL of these documents have to be notarized, they had to be apostilled by the state from which they originated, adding an additional $10-20 to the cost of each document (including Ethan’s scribbles!).
After all the documents in the dossier were collected, our home study could commence. Our social worker called and talked to us on the phone, and then visited us for about two hours. I know others who have had a different experience, but our social worker was there to help us adopt. She wasn’t out to get us or make us jump through hoops or prevent us from adopting, but she was thorough and did her best to make sure we were prepared to adopt. She suggested some books and classes to take and some local therapists experienced in adoption cases. I think there was a follow up phone call and maybe even a second visit (and a third when we moved houses and a fourth when Mohit changed jobs) but that was so long ago I can’t recall exactly.
After all the paperwork was done and we were waiting to be matched and then waiting to be able to bring her home (three years later), we prepared ourselves in numerous ways. Both our homestudy agency and placing agency required some training, which we completed. I also completed webinars/classes through Adoption Learning Partners that I thought were applicable and educational (see full list below). I subscribed to Adoptive Families magazine and read numerous books and blogs about adoption (see full list below). I found out that two of our acquaintances were adopted, and so we hosted them for dinner at our house and listened to their stories and advice.
Many of these activities had very practical advice and applications to parenting an adopted child. Others were simply stories of those who had traveled this journey before me. I hoped by being exposed to numerous experiences I could glean universal truths about adoptees and what they experience. I wanted to be prepared for anything and everything my daughter might feel, experience, throw at us. Along the way, I also realized that while there may be some similarities for all adoptees, every person is unique and every adoption is different. I did my best to be prepared for parenting our daughter, but I have to take it day by day and meet her where she is, not where I think she should be.
Webinars/classes offered by Adoption Learning Partners
- Adopting the Older Child
- An Insider’s Guide to Identity and Adoption
- Brothers and Sisters in Adoption
- Building Bonds of Attachment
- Discipline and the Adopted Child
- Expectations and Realities: Parenting an Adopted Child with Special Needs
- Inside the Adoption Circle
- Is It an Adoption Thing
- Medical Issues in International Adoption
- School’s In Session
- Tackling Tough Adoption Talks
- Tired of Timeouts
- Top 10 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew
- With Eyes Wide Open
Blogs about adoption or by adoptive parents
- Daughter of the Ganges
- The Connected Child
- Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child
- Dreaming a World (Korean birth mothers stories)
- Kisses from Katie
Thank you Brianna for all your insight and recommendations.