Many may believe that international adoption is complete once the child is in the home of the adoptive family, yet this is often not the case. International adoptions often require additional documentation once the child has arrived home such as post-adoption reports; the parental responsibility necessary varies. But, why should we care? Once our child is home, they’re home. It’s legal. It’s binding. Their birth country can’t come and take them back or destroy the adoption in any way. Why do we need to do paperwork that is required by a country we don’t even live in? 

Because future adoptions depend on it.

What are Post-Adoption Reports?

Post-adoption reports (PARs) are an integral part of the international adoption process. PARs occur once your child has come home, and their length depends on the birth country of your child. These reports can often come at difficult times post-adoption, such as when you’re thick in the trenches of figuring out medical complexities, language barriers, cocooning, or family adjustments. They aren’t something many of us look forward to and are often easily forgotten.

Depending on the agency you worked with to complete your adoption, they may help you walk through your post-adoption reports. Agencies can help by keeping track of the timeline, the requirements, the translations, and the documentation needs, which is so helpful; in this case, it is something that you already paid for when paying for services before the adoption was completed. If your agency does not cover PARs, you will need to make sure that you keep track of everything you need to file. That means knowing when PARs are due (making sure that you take into account how long it takes to mail), knowing what to file and what to include, and effectively preparing for the next due date.

Although not overly difficult to manage independently (if you choose to do it that way), PARs do require a little bit of forethought. They need photos–some countries require a specific grouping of photos (i.e. two individual photos of the child and three with the family). They also require specific information to be listed, marked, and made note of. This information can include the sleeping arrangements of the new child, their behavior since coming home, their struggles, their medical needs and complexities, and their overall health (i.e. food intake, bathroom output, etc). Some post-adoption reports may want you to list your child’s favorite toys, favorite movies, or what they enjoy doing. They may want to know what triggers them, what they struggle with daily, and what you as a family are doing to help them succeed in those areas. PARs are not meant to be intrusive; instead, they are meant to be an all-inclusive report of how the child is acclimating to a new family, new culture, new country, and new life.

Why Do I Need to Complete PARs?

To be honest, I struggled originally with the thought of post-adoption reports. I didn’t understand their function, and I didn’t understand why my child’s birth country seemed to care about all of that information once my son was home. He was so mistreated while in the orphanage; why did they want to know how he was now? But that narrow-minded viewpoint changed slowly over time as I learned the value of PARs and the complexity of governmental overreach. 

Post-adoption reports are not meant to hurt the parents in any way. They aren’t meant to unearth flaws or shine a light on difficulties being faced while parenting. They are there to ensure that the child is in a safe environment and that the adoption process has served that child well. This helps governments better pave the way for future adoptions so that more children can be blessed in the long run. Doing your post-adoption reports in a timely manner helps your child’s birth country gather information about the process they have set forth: is it doing its job in taking care of their children? If the children are growing–thriving even–in their new environment, then the process they have set forth to find families for the children in need is doing well. Making sure that your post-adoption reports are completed is a gift to adoptions in the future. It allows other children to experience an even better process than you did because you helped strengthen the trust of your child’s birth country. 

If adoptive parents miss the importance of completing their PARs in a timely fashion (as most likely stated in their original contract), then countries will start changing their requirements to ensure good homes are being found for their children. They may start making parental requirements lengthier and travel requirements more rigorous or limiting how many adoptions happen altogether. 

Though PARs can come at difficult times, they are unbelievably necessary. My son’s birth country required five PARs spread out within the first two years he was home. When we did that fifth report, it felt like such a relief. We had finally completed all of our necessary adoption requirements, and it felt good to be done with all the paperwork. Our son was home, healthy, and doing really well. We had friends adopting, and it was nice to know that our PARs only improved their experience. 

Do your PARs.

Future adoptions depend on it.