There are a handful of players in this “game of adoption” that you are playing.
Some of these folks you will have direct interaction with and some you won’t be adding to the yearly Christmas Card list, but ALL of them are important.
Here is a list of the folks who are going to assist you along the way. I’ve intentionally used the terminology that the system uses so that you can know exactly what role each person plays.
They are: Your Clinician… this is the person assigned to you by the adoption agency that will assist you throughout the process. Make this person your best friend. Find out his or her birthday, add them to the Christmas card list and always be in communication with them. Share with them, be intimate and straight-forward. Your Clinician represents you to a Committee and they should know everything about you and your family.
The next person who is important is the Caseworker. The Caseworker for this context is the person who is working with the system who is on the lookout for the best family to meet the child’s needs. You will want to make this person your best friend, but chances are you will never meet them. If you do end up talking to them, chances are it will be on the phone and it will be brief. The Caseworker represents the Child.
The Foster Parents… The foster parents are typically where the child is living at the time they went up for adoption. Foster parents usually have a bunch of kids and are only a temporary stay for the child. Foster parents are great because they have the “real world, boots on the ground” perspective that just can’t be matched by a case-study or s series of papers written about the child. If you are chosen to go to Committee, chances are you will have a chance to talk to the Foster Parents. If you do talk to them, prepare specific questions and take notes, you will need to know this if you are chosen to adopt this child.
It all leads down to a Committee. Committees are different each time and the Committee is ultimately who decides which family is going to be best for a child. Committees may have people like Judges, Caseworkers or Attorneys that represent the children. Then, typically, YOUR Caseworker gets up in front of them and tells you how cool you are and how great of a parent you would be to this child. Yes, your adoption ultimately resides in the hands of a group of folks you have not and will never meet. The better your Clinician knows you, the better he or she can represent you to the Committee.
Now that you know the players, you need to acknowledge your network.
Know Your Network
When in the adoption process, it’s important to know your Network.
Wha? I thought a network was something that had to do with Televisions or computers.
Well, your “network” is an extension of your “culture”, so, put a little more simply, the folks in your life whom you wish to be around.
Like most things, it’s going to be people who support you.
For the most part your network are folks who align with your philosophy, ideals and generally think in a similar way that you do.
So, what defines your network? In other words, what are the things that you find commonly with folks who create the “culture” in your life?
A good example of this is that my wife and I go to the gym. We’ve met a handful of folks there and have fused connections with them based in the realm of Health, Wellness and Fitness, specifically around exercise. One way that the gym (in general) supports families is that they have a “kids club”. My daughter loves it there. She gets to interact with other children and at the same time my wife and I get to take classes together.
Your network also might be someone in your immediate family that lives in your area, like your sister or brother, parents or a family friend.
One thing that was valuable to our family was going to “Waiting to Adopt” Support groups. This usually has folks who are in the same situation you are.
Like I said before, your network also includes folks in your family, friends and neighbors that are a part of the eco-system of your life.
It really all boils down to having a relationship with someone who has something in common to you. The real trick is to align your culture with your network as your support system.
This will give you the most stability and support that it can, both physically and mentally.
So, why is this so important and why would I spend so much time talking about support systems?
That’s a great question and it’s got a simple answer: Adoption is taxing.
It’s hard to prepare your life for a child and it’s even harder to deal with the disappointment that comes when you aren’t selected to be the child’s forever home. In fact it’s so tough that I have a whole section about this in the readying for rejection section of this website.
Having the right support system in place can make a world of difference. One really great book that you can just hand over to your support peeps is called In On It, and it does a great job explaining some of the trials and tribulations of the Adoption process to an outsider.
Now that you know the players, you need to start thinking about how to present your family.