Communication is one of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect, of a relationship. The relationship between an adoption agency and an adopting family is no different, and good communication is key. A frequent topic of discussion among our team members is “How can we best communicate efficiently and effectively with our families?” On our journey to continued improvement of the services we provide, we have discovered that there are many obstacles to effective communication. Below are a few we’ve noticed over the years:
- Expectation – Each party comes to a relationship with a certain expectation of communication standards. Our team strives to meet and exceed our families’ communication expectations, though sometimes that can be a challenge because every person’s needs are so different. Some of us prefer short written communications because our goal is to efficiently get a question answered, while others prefer to chat by phone as a way to both get a question answered and to simultaneously build a relationship. Those who like quick short emails or text messages may be frustrated by an out-of-the-blue call to connect. Those who like to chat over the phone may be frustrated by a short email, because it can feel impersonal.
- Communicating Important and Sensitive Information – With so much of our communication coming and going electronically, nuances in a communication can get lost. It has taken some trial and error to learn to communicate our intent along with content in an email format. The majority of the time we are successful, though sometimes we are not; there is always room for improvement in communicating intention through emails. Some topics and concerns are simply better addressed in-person or by phone.
- Timeliness – With increases in technology, we have all become accustomed to instant information and communication. We understand that our families want information as soon as possible, and we want to give information to them as well. We understand that our team is likely a family’s only link to their child throughout the adoption process. However, we also must gather information to share with families from cultures with differing expectations of communication that may be halfway around the world. Consequently, response time frames may not be as short as we would like.
While these obstacles show areas for improvement, we are pleased that despite these obstacles, families feel that communication is one of MLJ Adoptions’ strengths. Our past and current families complete surveys as a quality improvement measure, and below are just a few of the comments regarding communication that we received from surveys completed this year:
- “MLJ’s greatest strength from our perspective is communication and timely feedback.”
- “Everyone was SO SPEEDY in replying to my emails.”
- “So appreciative of monthly (country-specific) newsletters.”
- “The office staff was attentive to our questions, requests and needs. Keep up the great work!”
- “Everyone we worked with was accommodating – quick to answer questions or concerns that we had.”
- “We were pleased with the honesty and candor of replies. We know international adoption usually takes much longer than anyone likes – but we don’t feel that we were ever given false hopes based on dates, etc.”
We understand efficient, effective and compassionate communication is essential for a family to manage the stress of adoption. We are thankful our families feel that we are serving them well in such an important area.