For many families just beginning their international adoption journey, prospective adoptive families feel they are entering a complex world of paper shuffling and processes and procedures they just do not understand and may find extraordinarily confusing. While your adoption service provider (your adoption agency) is there to assist you and to help you navigate this process, it is also helpful to understand what is happening during each step of your adoption process and who is providing services to you as you walk down the path to being united with your adopted child. The more educated you are, the less stress you will experience during your adoption.
Your adoption service provider should provide you with a descriptive road map or service plan that outlines the steps in your process, and which informs you who, whether an entity or person, is providing services to you during each step of your adoption. This document is typically referred to as your “Adoption Service Plan” and at a minimum should provide you with information on the following six adoption services:
- Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption
Translation Who or what entity will be identifying the child you will be adopting?
2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption
Translation Who or what entity will be obtaining consents from birth parents terminating their parental rights?
3. Performing a background study on a child or a home study on prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such study
Translation Who or what entity will be providing information on the child you are matched with and who will be providing home study services to you the adoptive parents? And who will be reporting this information?
4. Making a non-judicial determination of best interest of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child.
Translation Who or what entity makes the decision that the adoption of the child you are matched with is in the best interest of the child?
5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption
Translation Who is overseeing your adoption case during the entire process until your adoption is finalized?
6. Assuming custody of a child and providing (including facilitating the provision of) childcare or any other social service when necessary because of a disruption before final adoption
Translation If the adoption is not successful, who takes custody and care of the child?
Particularly for countries signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (or Hague Adoption Convention), many of the above duties are assigned to a central adoption authority or a Hague Accredited agency, but this may also be true for countries not signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention.
Providing an Adoption Service Plan to families is an effort to put families at ease, to keep them informed and to be transparent. The more informed adoptive parents are the better able they are to manage the sometimes turbulent and stressful waters of the adoption process. If you have questions about your adoption process never hesitate to contact your agency and ask questions. Afterall, that is what they are there for!