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Adoptee Voices: Tomorrow I Will Meet a Biological Family Member for the First Time in My Life
When parents begin their adoption journey, they are usually overwhelmed by a barrage of paperwork they need to complete. One of these papers is a document whereby you agree to complete post adoption reports for the courts, international country, your adoption agency, the State of the child’s custody, and/or the Department of State. It can seem like a daunting task, especially when some countries can require these reports until the child is age 21. So, you kind of forget about it until after your child comes home and the post-adoption report reminders begin flowing into your inbox. Just when you think your adoption journey is over, there is still more to do!
As an adoption agency, we understand your desire to skip this obligation. After all, you have your child, and you want to begin the job of incorporating him or her into your family. However, the agreement that you made early on in your adoption journey is an actual legal requirement and it is up to your adoption agency to assure that you fulfill it.
Why is this so important? Well, for many reasons. First, you signed a binding agreement stating that you would submit such post adoption reports, so that must be honored. The court that granted your adoption and approved you to raise the child wants to know if they made a good decision. They want to assure you are following the law. If you adopted internationally, the child’s country of origin wants to be assured that the child is being loved and cared for, and has a good home. They use these Post Adoption reports as proof that permitting parents from other countries to adopt their children is a good decision. They need these reports to continue to guarantee that international adoption is available in their countries. Your adoption agency is bound by both law and agreements with foreign countries, licensing entities, accreditation governing bodies, and various courts to assure that these reports are sent to them as required.
If you adopted across state lines, the ICPC (Interstate Compact) agreement requires that reports are sent to the Child and Family Services offices of the sending state. The state where you live will also want a report on the child to assure that the child is receiving adequate care and support.
Finally, with international adoption, our US Department of State wants to assure that any agreements made with foreign countries are upheld and that relations with those countries continue to progress smoothly. They monitor relations with these foreign governments and work with them to continue cooperative agreements, including adoptions.
On a more personal level, however, it is important for you, as the parent, to be able to illustrate that your home, your attention and your love is making a real difference in this child’s life. The Post Adoption Report is the right vehicle to do just that.
What is in a Post Adoption Report? Essentially, this is a rundown on the child’s well-being, his ability to adjust to a new home, and a discussion of any behavioral needs or medical issues he may be exhibiting. When the social worker comes to your home to complete a Post Adoption Report, she will ask you some simple questions about your child’s history. Then, you will discuss how your child interacts with others, their ability to bond and attach with parents and siblings, their ability to show and receive affection from others, activities you have all participated in since their arrival, their health and medical treatments, basic eating and sleeping habits, likes and dislikes in foods/activities/play, physical development and accomplishments, self-care abilities, educational status, social skills, language skills, discipline practices or concerns, behavioral issues, the child’s culture, the legal adoption processes, and your family’s emotional health and support system. You may be asked for a copy of your child’s report card or latest medical exam if that is required. Often, you may need to provide pictures of your child and your family to help document your child’s progress if this is required by the agency, country of origin or court. If you are having any particular challenges or need local resources to assist you, the social worker will help you with this as well. The post adoption report visit is a time to openly discuss not only your child’s progress, but also any situations or challenges you need an experienced social worker to help you with. Social workers are well aware that adopting a child is a process, and adjustment can take some time. They will be more than willing to help you with any concerns you may have.
After the social worker writes the Post Adoption report and it is reviewed by their agency, it often has to be translated into a foreign language if an international adoption has taken place. The report may also need to be notarized or apostilled to assure its legality by the receiving entity. Multiple copies are often required to be sent to the court or country. It may need to be formatted in a particular way for the needs of that particular entity. There are many requirements that an agency must meet in order to get your Post Adoption report to the court, Central Authority or consulate.
How often do you need to complete these reports? Well, that depends on several things. If you have adopted domestically, your court order may list the number of reports required and their frequency. The ICPC requirements may also come into play if you have adopted across state lines. If you completed an international adoption, the sending country will have established particular frequencies and numbers of reports listed and this should be in your contract with your agency. If you adopted from a foreign country that does not have adoption reporting requirements listed, you will likely be required to follow a reporting procedure set by your adoption agency.
Post Adoption Reports are indeed very important. They are legally required, document the progress of your child and your ability to adopt, are crucial to the ability of other parents to adopt internationally, and allow states and courts to monitor the well-being of a particular child previously under their guardianship. The future of subsequent adoptions, for yourself and other families who desire to parent an orphan, depends upon your compliance with this requirement.
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