Expanding your family through adoption can be one of the most important decisions of your family’s life and it is important to use a home study provider who is an expert in the field. Choosing a reputable adoption agency can help. The home study is the start of a relationship that can be a resource for you and your family and provide you a lifetime of support and services when and if you need them.
Adoption is not a one-time event, it’s a lifelong journey so the home study should not be “just one more thing to finish” before you can adopt. The home study is a tool to help prepare, inform and contemplate all that goes into adoption. Whether you’re hoping to adopt an infant domestically or a school-aged relative from overseas, we know that the conversations within your family have been extensive by the time you’re beginning the home study process and we tailor the process to meet the needs of your family. The home study process is designed to address difficult topics and we know that it can feel invasive. We want to make sure that we’re transparent throughout the process and tell families that if at any point they are wondering why a topic is relevant to let us know so that we can discuss their concerns.
The home study process sets a foundation for the lifelong event of adoption and we talk about what your future child might experience throughout the lifespan. An important part of the home study and pre-adoption education process is building your tools and knowledge. We intentionally incorporate our expertise of the experiences of all members of the adoption triad in our home study work because we know that this is what builds strong adoptive families. I recently heard from an adoptive family whose child is now nine years old, is processing their adoption identity in a new way and has a lot of questions. They told me, “we know we learned what to do when this happens during the home study but that was a long time ago.” And I said, “great!” because that is exactly what we hope families will get from the home study process. It’s not possible to remember everything that will be covered in the home study process and as an adoptive parent you will be a lifelong learner. During the home study process, we will cover how to talk with your child about their adoption story throughout their lifespan beginning in infancy. While this is a good start, we often hear from families down the road with situation-specific questions for our clinicians. If your home study preparer did their job right, you will feel comfortable to come back for support as questions come up.
It’s important to find ways to connect with other adoptive families and we hope that the home study process will provides that foundation. Depending on your path to adoptive parenthood, we offer pre-adoption training that provide you the opportunity to meet other prospective adoptive parents. Post-adoption, participating in an adoption community is an important way to normalize the adoptee experience for your child to find support from families with similar experiences. We often hear from adoptees that they feel isolated and it is important for them to connect with others with a similar background to them. We connect families informally with similar circumstances of placement or who live near one another. Some of our families live so close to one another that they are planning to share babysitters! Many families tell us that our support structure, including our monthly playgroups and regular Lifebook and Mask Making events, is what brought them to us in the first place.
Our pre-adoption home study work is informed by our post-adoption work with adoptees, birth families, and adoptive parents. Families adopting children over the age of three complete a resource plan which includes identifying practical things like an adoption-competent pediatrician and thoughtful things like ways to create an attachment between future siblings and how to help your older child meaningfully say goodbye and maintain connections. We have learned to have people identify these resources ahead of time, knowing that they will call on that information later when they need it.