Adopting the right attitude to adoption is just as important as adopting the right child. One person who can help you do both is your private adoption practitioner.
Along with your licensee, your adoption practitioner will probably be your most important source of information, advice and support during the adoption process.
S/he’s one of the first people you’ll speak to and one of the last. If adoption is a learning process and a lifelong journey, think of him/her as your teacher and your guide.
His/her main job will be to help you through the home study process and prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead.
S/he’ll also go over the prospective birth parents’ social and medical histories with you, which are their version of the home study.
And finally, after the placement, s/he’ll be responsible for visiting you at your home and completing a report on how you’re adjusting to your new life as parents.
While adoption practitioners lack the legal experience of an adoption licensee, they’re an excellent sounding board on just about everything else and can help you sort through your feelings — and usually for a fraction of the cost.
Adoption practitioners used to be known as social workers, and in some places they still are. But you can’t hire just any one. They have to be approved by the province to work on adoptions.
Social workers can be found through an adoption agency or, in provinces such as Ontario, independently. Depending on where you live, you may have more than one to choose from.
Take the time to find the one that’s right for you — someone who’s knowledgeable, experienced, and empathetic. When you consider how important her/his role will be, you won’t regret it.
Before you hire anyone, have a conversation. Find out:
- How long has s/he been working in the field?
- How many home studies has s/he done?
- Does s/he have experience in the kind of adoption that you’re interested in?
- Make sure that you can talk to her/him easily and openly. After all, you’ll be confiding a lot of personal details — things about your life that you may not have shared with anyone else, not even members of your own family,.
When contacting an adoption practitioner, keep in mind how easy is it to get through to him/her. If s/he’s not available, how long does it take him/her to get back to you?
As you’ll quickly discover, adoptions can get pretty tricky pretty quickly. Knowing that you can pick up the phone and find your adoption practitioner — or hear back from him/her — in a few moments is a very comforting thought.
Your adoption practitioner will know the adoption process inside out. But remember, you’re the one who’s going through it.
Don’t rely on him/her too heavily when it comes to filling out forms and meeting deadlines. In order for your case to be a priority for him/her, you have to make it a priority for you.