The adoption process requires so much emotional and physical energy that post- placement services are often pushed to the back of adoptive parents' minds. It is not uncommon for parents to comment that post placement services are vastly different from services provided for biological children and their families. Hospitals rarely request a visit with a family or require additional paperwork after they have been discharged. Knowing the benefits and components of this service will help you to better understand the process and value quality service.
In part, post-placement reports were created to standardize the information that sending countries require about children who have been adopted abroad. In the past many families have chosen to send pictures or brief anecdotes about their child to the country of birth. People connected with your child before her adoption and officials abroad value this information, but all too often it is inconsistent or incomplete in painting an overall picture of a child's well being. Frequently it falls short of meeting post-placement requirements as established by the country of origin. Through post-placement reports your placement agency is able to create a comprehensive document about your adopted child's new life.
It is important to realize that your placement agency has the best interests of you and your child in mind. Social workers care about the children involved and ultimately about your family. Post-placement reporting is a constructive way to close the adoption process and move on to the next steps in your child's development.
For an idea of what a question might be addressed in a post-placement visit, the following examples have been provide by Special Additions International, Inc. ( Stilwell , Kansas ):
What is the child's physical condition? Who is her doctor? What major illnesses or surgeries have occurred? Are her immunizations current? Does she have any allergies?
What development milestones have been reached? How are the child's gross and fine motor skills developing? How is her speech progressing?
What occurs in a normal day for the child? Who does she spend her time with? What are her eating habits?
How does she interact with peers, family, neighbors, strangers? With friends, does she play well, share, etc?
How is the family adjusting to having a new child in the home? How are siblings, extended family doing with her in the home? How does the family address discipline? Have there been any major changes to the household since the child arrived?
What, where, how many?
The truth about post-placement reports is that only your agency can tell you exactly how many you will need, or what they will entail. Every agency has different methods for completing the reports. Some post-placement visits are done in the home while others can be completed at another location. Plan to include our entire family in some aspect of the visits. Often agencies will need to include siblings, both parents and other family members living your home in their report.
While additional post-placement reports might be required by your state or agency, most sending countries have their own requirements. In helping your placement agency to complete these reports, you are fulfilling your commitment as an adoptive parent as well as taking an important role in maintaining a positive relationship between the US and the countries abroad. These reports go a long way in assuring foreign officials that children who come to the United States are well cared for. They help make it possible for other children to be adopted in the future.
What can parents do to facilitate their post-placement visits?
Understandably, parents sometimes feel apprehensive about repeated visits from a social worker after the adoption is complete. Some might feel that their parenting abilities are being monitored or even critiqued. It is important to remember that post-placement reports are necessary extension of the process as a whole.
As a parent, you can make certain that you are informed from the outset. Be proactive in encouraging your social worker to provide you with all available information about what will occur in your post-placement visits. He or she is there for you benefit. You will be more comfortable with post-placement visits if you know what to expect form the beginning.
Also keep in mind that the social worker conducting the post-placement report is not looking for flawlessness. Post-placement visits do not evaluate whether or not toys are picked up or how much dirty laundry is in your home. Representative from your placement agency are very familiar with families that have recently welcomed a new child. They expect to changes that occur when a newborn enters a household and know to expect possible drastic changes with a 2-year-old, 5-year-old or 10-year-old.
What advantages does it offer to parents?
Often post-placement visits are a way for a family to connect with resources. Use them as an opportunity to ask about what services are available to you. This final phase of the adoption process is the first in a child's life in the US . Through post-placement parents can discover ways to connect their child with internationally adopted peers, cultural activities and health resources.
Home visits are meant to ease the post-placement process for parents. This is why your placement agency will usually be willing to work around your schedule in completing the report.
It is true that post-placement services are unique to adopted children. Though not every child has the benefit of this extra support when they become part of a family, perhaps more should. All aspects of post-placement provided for closure to the adoption process and mark the beginning of your new life as a family.
For the first part of your internationally adopted child's life she had an entire network of people who cared for her. Foster parents, orphanage workers, adoption officials and, of course, you and your placement agency each had a hand in your child's existence. Post-placement reports are a chance for everyone to be informed of what you already know: your child is growing, safe and most importantly… loved!
Ms. Jessica Clark is a part-time administrative assistant for Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS). After living and working in Bostani, Romania at the Speranta Copillor Group Home for Abandon Children for a year, Ms. Clark joined JCICS in September 2004. Ms. Clark graduated from James Madison University in 2003 with a BA in English.