Working in the field of adoption and child welfare offers many opportunities to truly get to know people at their finest—and their worst. It can be very hard at times, but also incredibly joyous—especially when it comes to adoption. When hopeful adoptive parents contact agencies, they are typically looking for support, information, and a measure of hope regarding their desire to adopt children. Here are five things that adoption social workers want hopeful adoptive parents to know:
1. Adoption is a lengthy and in-depth process. The stack of paperwork provided to you will be overwhelming, but it is oh-so-important. We will invade your privacy, ask you to recall experiences from your life, and expect you to be honest, open, and timely. Please know that as social workers in this field, we are responsible for assessing families to determine safety, appropriateness, and willingness to invest in a child’s life. This is not a task that we take lightly.
2. With adoption, there is loss. While we celebrate with you in the hopeful anticipation of adoption, we also recognize the difficult circumstances that caused a child to be in need of family outside of their family of origin. In some adoptions, social workers work with both the biological parents and the adoptive family. We see your tears of joy and hope, but also witness those shed by biological families. In many ways, both heartbreak and hope sit side by side.
3. We will never guarantee placement of a child. It is true that there are many children around the world in need of adoption, but it is the agency’s responsibility to never guarantee placement of a child in your home. With that being said, we will work on your behalf in the pursuit of adoption.
4. The journey of adoption does not end with the fall of the judge’s gavel. We want you to truly commit to the lifelong journey of adoption. There will be hard moments, but also ones that completely encase your heart with laughter. Seek knowledge. Be resourceful. Advocate wisely. Get involved with other adoptive families, and please do not be shy to ask for help. Children who have been adopted need for all of us to work together in making sure their social, emotional, physical, and psychological needs are met.
5. Be a strong voice for adoption. Once it touches your life, you will be changed. Be honest about your experience. Others who are seeking information for the consideration of adoption will reach out to social workers, but through the shared experience of adoptive families, they can better discern if adoption is right for them.
Adoption social work is both difficult and quite special. Social workers in the field become deeply involved in it and experience both the highs and lows that come along with each story. Behind every story are layers of loss, love, and hope. We know that so well. We touch your lives, share in your dreams, and help to fulfill your desires for children, but you also leave an imprint on our lives. Together, we are able to make lasting differences in the lives of children, and that is something that we can all hope for.
If you would like to begin your adoption journey, click here to connect with an experienced, compassionate adoption professional.