6 Tips for Communicating with Your Adoption Social Worker

Make the most of your relationship with this key player in your adoption story.

Meghan Rivard August 23, 2015

The adoption process can be a stressful and overwhelming time, dealing with both paperwork and a roller coaster of emotions. This is where your social worker can a beneficial resource and a person to turn to with any questions. As an adoption social worker as well as an adoptive mom, I understand both sides of the experience and hopefully can offer you some tips for communicating with your social worker.

Be honest.
1. Be honest.

Always be honest with your social worker and answer all questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. It is much easier to be truthful early on than for a surprise to come up later in the process. Not fully disclosing information will likely cause a delay in the adoption process. Know that your social worker isn’t there to judge or criticize you, they just want to get the most accurate information possible for the home study report.

Be open.
2. Be open.

Always be open to the questions or topics the Social Worker may ask you for your home study. They will ask you about your medical background, finances, and criminal background. They will want to know about your home and neighborhood. They'll need to speak with references. They'll need to know about previous residences. This is not meant to be obtrusive or offensive, it is simply gathering the information required for the home study report.

Expect ethical practices.
3. Expect ethical practices.

It is expected that you are truthful to your assigned Social Worker. It is also an expectation that your Social Worker keeps your information and assessments fully confidential. You may ask your Social Worker early in the process on about the best way to communicate with them. If you feel that they don’t respond to you in a timely manner, or if they seem unprofessional in any way, contact their supervisor or someone else in the agency for advice or clarification.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If there is anything along the process that you don’t understand, feel free to ask your social worker. They are there to help you and be your advocate, so they should never be too busy to answer any questions you may have. In our personal adoption process, I wanted to know where we were in the process the entire time, so I asked a lot of questions. Be aware that some parts of the adoption process are simply beyond the social worker's control. Make sure to ask detailed questions if you feel something that is being asked is delaying (or will delay) the adoption process.

Don’t shoot the messenger.
5. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Your social worker is there to guide you through the entire adoption process, so don’t get offended if they tell you that there is another piece of paperwork to complete or something still missing or needed. They are just making sure they have everything that is needed legally for the adoption process. This information is required by state or federal law. Remember that laws will vary from state to state.

Be responsive.
6. Be responsive.

Families tend to be eager to keep the process moving, to minimize delay. Your social worker can only move as fast as they get the paperwork, information, assessments, etc. from you, so if they contact you asking for something, please respond to them in a timely manner.

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Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!

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