When it comes to presenting your family to the adoption committee, you are represented by your caseworker.
This means that no matter how good your “family letter”, your “family book” or your optional website that you create looks, the caseworker must know you in and out. (I’ll get to the letters, book and website in a minute – those are very important too).
During the training you are probably told that you will be putting together a Home Study.
This Home Study is a crucial thing because it’s what the caseworker (of the child you want to adopt) is going to look at. Yes, this Home Study represents your family.
This is the one that everyone who has filled this out sorta grins about because it’s grueling. It’s a long set of questions that may, on the surface seem pretty redundant, but that dive deep into your past, your partners past and really tell everything about you.
A basic overview of the presentation process works like this:
You and your Clinician complete your home study.
In my experience, it was completing this massive form with my wife and discussing it with our Caseworker when it was completed.
This might include getting more specific on several different types of questions and adding context around particular areas.
And this questionnaire leaves nothing unturned: Finances, past Marriages or Divorces, other Children and previous employment history. When I say that it looks at everything, I mean it: It Looks At EVERYTHING.
You then check out the website and see the children that are available to adopt. Based on what you listed in your home study (the type of child that will be the best fit for your family), you can then apply for them by simply writing your Clinician and requesting for them to submit your Home Study.
An added bonus is to create a family letter. In our case, this letter was printed and mailed to the Caseworker.
Because we were always putting in for new kids, I created a single Photoshop Template that I used.
This isn’t to say that each child got the same family letter. In fact we’d look for things to do to tweak it so that it applied directly to the child that we were applying for. For example, if it said that “Johnny’s favorite color is Blue”, I’d make the background different shades of blue. We even had a child that requested her family “be a city famly because the country is dirty”, so I wrote about that in her family letter.
Click Here to see our Family Letter in a PDF form.
One really good way to present your family is to setup a family website. It’s not required, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
You can check out our Family Website by clicking here: TessandoriTri.Be
This way you can really “stand out” from being simply a home-study or a family letter.
We did our family website about mid-way through the process and I kinda wish we’d have done it sooner. I feel like it represents us a little better and gives some context about our daily lives, which is what the committee wants to know about.
Ours was a simple WordPress blog that I hosted with a handful of other sites I’d setup in the past.
Each member of the family has their own page and we even included one for our cats.
We talked about things we like to do, like going camping, to the beach and how we celebrate holidays.
We also had a page which talked about our daily routines, like walking to school and doing homework. I felt that this was the most important page.
Like I said before, the idea of a family website is to present your family in YOUR way.
Where To Look Online For Your Child
So, after you know the players in this adoption game and you know how you are going to present your family, what about the kids?
I mean, after all, it’s this what it’s all about?
Oregon has a website called the “Oregon Adoption Resource Exchange” and you will often hear the acronym “OARE” associate with this. The website is located at http://www.oare-kids.org/ and is locked down to a unique Username and Password that is provided to you at the completion of your Home Study.
The site itself is relatively easy to navigate.
Once you are logged in, click on “Meet Waiting Children” up on top and you’ll be taken to a page that shows the Oregon children that are up for adoption.
If you see a child you want to learn more about.
Here you’ll see a couple pictures of them, their date of birth and their status.
The “status” isn’t always a straight-forward thing, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The paragraphs that describe the child are called the “narrative”. These are written by caseworks who work on behalf of the child and are the child’s “greatest hits”. In other words, the Caseworker uses the narrative to describe the child’s situation in the nicest way possible… and even then it’s not always “G” rated.
This isn’t meant to be a personal commentary, because really it’s not an easy thing to do.
So, for example, if a child is challenges with sitting still, meaning that they are a wild child that never sits down, the caseworker will say that they are full of energy. If a child likes to remain in their room all the time and refuses to come directly to a stranger they might say that the child is socially challenged.
Anyway, you get the picture.
And the reality is this: No child ASKED to be put up for adoption. Something traumatic occurred that has caused this child to be put into the system… and no matter how judgmental it sounds, the fact remains that they had nothing to do with it.
Oh yeah, about the “Status” I mentioned earlier.
The OARE website keeps the status of each child publicly available. This is important to mention because it’s a way to keep up on where the child is in the adoption process.
By definition, a child in the Adoption process is in one of three states:
On Hold: Worker is not accepting homestudies at this time.
Active: Child is available for adoption.
Inactive: Child is unavailable for adoption.
You can find the current status of any child in their online profile.
Readying For Rejection
You can be told time and time again how hot a stove is or how deep the ocean rocks drop off, but until you burn your finger or get sucked under by a riptide, you won’t really know that feeling.
This is the same thing as being prepared for the rejection of your adoption.
Until you’ve been through the entire process, you won’t know what it feels like.
Everyone who has gone though adoption has felt this to a certain degree… some more than others.
You have everything in place: You’ve poured over your family book and even arranged the room in the house for this little guy or girl that you envision in your family.
You spend WEEKS thinking about how you are going to introduce them to your family, you walk by a display at the Kids Gap and you see their “cyber face” in those clothes.
Even the best laid plans don’t prepare you for the rejection of not being selected at committee.
Your caseworker will come to you with “constructive feedback” about what the Committee has said. In some instances, it’s things that you cannot change, like how old you are how long you’ve been married. In some cases, it’s something totally within your power, like going to therapy with your Mother whom you may have had a rocky relationship with when you were growing up.
And just like anything else in life, those just become lumps that you need to take. Some things are simply out of your control.
The real trick, and this is genuine advice from someone who has “been there”, don’t become callous. No matter what feedback you get or how many times a committee rejects you, it will work out in the end. Don’t give up! If you’ve made it this far, you have the strength and determination to be a fantastic and caring parent.
The fact of the matter remains that there is no clear-cut or definitive path when it comes to committees.
What you CAN do is be honest and transparent, be in communication with your caseworker (your family representative) and be creative in your process, meaning do accurate family letters, put up a website and really put yourself out there.