The concept of a post-adoption visit can be overwhelming for families. Like the home study process, it is intimidating to have a social worker come into your home and evaluate your family. The goal of a home study is to approve your family to adopt. It’s important to share as much information as possible with the social worker so that the home study report can best reflect your family. When it comes time to complete post adoption reports, while the goal is different, it is equally important to be transparent with the social worker. Post-adoption visits are the best time to ask for resources, seek guidance and have questions answered!
MLJ Adoptions strives to have the same Home Study Assistant complete post-adoption visits who worked with families during the home study stage. This way there is some familiarity with one another and it allows for a greater level of comfort. As MLJ’s Social Services Manager, one of my job responsibilities is to oversee our social workers and conduct post adoption visits. My absolute favorite part of my job is going on post adoption visits. Because: I love seeing the fruits of this job. I love hearing our families’ stories; I love helping families succeed; I love getting down on the ground and playing with the kids; I love sharing my story with others who can benefit from it; I love watching the children grow up over the years; I love seeing happy family pictures; I love giving others community resources to find the help they need.
Most families share that the post adoption visits are less stressful than home study visits. A recent adoptive parent said, “Our post adoption visits have been very pleasant. Where home study visits can be a little bit intimidating, we have found that we feel much more relaxed about our post adoption visits.”
During the post-adoption visits, families share information about their child’s routines, adjustment and health. Additionally, the social worker may help families think through how to have certain conversations that may not have happened yet. Ashlie, an adoptive parent, said that their social worker “has asked us questions that have gotten us thinking about how we would discuss adoption with our children as they grow, which has led to more research and discussions with other families. They’ve kind of given us a heads up on things to work on/look for/ do as we progress as a family.” Strong support systems are important for families, especially with other adoptive families, but a social worker can help guide families through adoption related issues, too.
The social worker knows that your toddler will not sit still the whole time and be able to share his or her deepest feelings. Natalie said that during their post-adoption visit, “Our social worker came to our home at a time that was convenient for our family. She was relaxed and friendly, and she seemed comfortable to roll with whatever our kids were doing at the time — jumping on the trampoline, playing with toys, etc. She asked a few basic questions and allowed me to share additional information I thought was relevant for our post-adoption reports.” Before the social worker arrives, she sends a list of questions for families to begin preparing for, so even in the midst of children running around playing, the relevant information can be captured.
Each country requires a different number of post-adoption reports and therefore visits, but we hope each visit is helpful. Ashlie also shared, “I feel like all of the visits are beneficial. Our children have adjusted quite well to life in America. They’re quite healthy and happy. Even though we haven’t had a lot of the obstacles with attachment/discipline like some other families, we have gained knowledge from our social worker.” Different families have different needs, and post-adoption visits are vital for MLJ Adoptions to be able to come alongside each family to uniquely meet their needs.
It is our hope that post-adoption visits can be beneficial for families, not just in receiving additional support if necessary, but also in reflecting on a child’s progress. A family shared, “both of our visits have been beneficial. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day, sometimes survival mode. Touching base with our social worker has helped us to take a pause and see how much progress the boys have made since coming home.” Seeing progress can be more difficult in the trenches, but when a social worker visits and prompts questions, growth can be seen more easily.
MLJ Adoptions desires to support families before, during and after adoption. We want to see adoptive families thrive with their new family member(s) and post-adoption visits are one of the ways we are able to do that!