Monday, July 20, 2009

Where to Start?

I've had a fair amount of people ask me what to do in order to start an adoption. So, here is a list of things to help you research and think through the types of adoption and where to get more information.

1) Be open to all types of adoption at first, then as you research, you can begin to knock things off your list.

2) If you already have children, plan to adopt children younger than your youngest child. Except in specific situations, it's best to adopt in birth order. This, in itself, will limit your adoption choices.

3) To begin your research go to your local library and find a good, comprehensive book on adoption. Actually, you might want to consider getting 2 or 3, to give you more perspectives. Don't both reading the legal stuff at this point, because laws change and vary state-to-state. Even paperwork changes. It's a waste of your time to read it now.

4) Call local adoption agencies. Many offer a class on types of adoption. They should also be willing to send you information on their services, and, if you are interested in international adoption, be willing to recommend international agencies they have worked with.

5) Check your local county Job and Family Services. Not only do they have many children needing families, they often offer free training classes where you can learn more about domestic adoption.

6) If you are considering international, think about cultures you are interested in, enjoy learning about and can present positively to your child. Then check with the State Department (see link under addition adoption resources) to see if that country has a working adoption program.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Attachment in the Early Stages

I know there is a lot written about the attachment of adopted children, but one thing I've not read much about is the process of attaching. Having both birthed and adopted children, I've really come to believe that attachment is a process, not something that happens overnight, whether a child is born to you or adopted by you.

When my oldest was born, it troubled me because I loved him, yet the only way I could tell him from other newborns was because he had a clef in his chin! I didn't recognize his cry. I didn't feel some instinctive understanding of his needs. He looked and sounded like every other baloney loaf in the nursery at the time. Once home, I relied upon a schedule to figure out what the crying meant. I didn't hear an "I'm hungry" cry or a "I'm tired" cry. In all his years of diapers, I never once heard an "I need changed" cry! What made it worse was the mothers who all claimed that they could pick their baby out, understood each cry and just had a groove with their kid. Personally, I think it's all bunk.

Yet, as he grew and I took care of him, I began to know him, and his personality emerged. Attachment came with that, the growing of our relationship as he revealed more of himself, learned he could trust me to meet his needs, and I grew in my understanding of how he communicated his needs. In the course of that time, too, his personality began to develop and reveal itself. As that happened, not only did attachment flourish, but I really began to fall in love. I began to know him, not just be his mom.

While attachment with adoption is not exactly the same, as the child's original attachment was disrupted, it is a very similar process. Sometimes you have to nudge it along, sometimes you have to get it major help, but it is still a process. Maybe for some there will be an instant bond, but the trust the comes with attachment only comes with time. Time for the child to learn to trust you not only to meet her needs, but for her to feel safe enough to reveal herself to you, and time for you to really get to know your child.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

About That Dossier....

I once collected a dossier for an adoption, including all the necessary immigration paperwork, in less than two months. If anyone reading this has ever completed a dossier, I know that you must be at least nearly as impressed with me as I was. Home study, immigration, health paperwork, financial paperwork.... it was all there, and all shipped to Ukraine, where our approval was issued much sooner than we expected.

You can imagine my surprise, or rather my despair, when I received a phone call from our contact in Ukraine who had to tell me the terrible news. A social worker in the adoption center had 'rechecked' our work and found 5 terribly small 'errors', taken us off the listed of approved adoptive parents and then promptly mailed our dossier back to the US!

I wasn't sure what was worse... being 'unapproved' or having our dossier, so full of sensitive information, being sent back to the US via snail mail. That was over 3 years ago, and it still hasn't arrived home, but our daughter did, and that was all that mattered.

Lesson learned? I was able to rebuild the dossier within a week and had it back to my translator within two weeks. That was because I had certified copies or multiple copies of the originals of every document I collected.

It's worth the extra time and money to get multiple copies of every document, and to make certified copies of any originals that don't come in duplicate.