Local adoption and permanent care in Australia is like a maze. There is plenty of information available however, brick walls galore! Because I’ve spent time on the ‘inside’, I feel I have some tips to share if you’re about to embark on this journey. Here are my top 10 tips if you’re just starting out.
1. MAKING THAT FIRST CALL CAN BE DIFFICULT
Make contact with your relevant state organisation. For us, it was as simple as making a call to our local Department of Human Services office. I was very nervous and concerned… ‘What if we wouldn’t make the cut?’ I couldn’t have handled a ‘no’ as we were desperate to have a second child join our family.
2. ASK MANY QUESTIONS
Request more information and ask as many questions as you can. I guarantee you’ll come away from your initial call with a lot of your concerns not addressed. Do not not be shy, no question is off limits and it won’t impact your future chances of raising an adopted or permanent care child. This entire process is destined to change your life so it’s best you’re fully informed of all relevant information that you need to know.
3. INFORMATION SESSIONS ARE BRIEF BUT NECESSARY
Once you are armed with a general outline of information about both adoption and permanent care, attend information sessions in your state. There you will meet other couples/individuals in your situation and you’ll also gain a broader understanding of the process.
4. DO NOT RULE OUT PERMANENT CARE!
The concept of this may alarm you to begin with however, I really felt that I didn’t fully understand it enough until we reached training. It’s just another way of bringing a child into your loving family.
5. TRAINING IS NOT AS DAUNTING AS YOU THINK
If you’re still interested after your information sessions, go forth and make a commitment to training. We attended local infant adoption training and permanent care training. Both were incredibly comprehensive and we learned so much. What I found particularly interesting was it broadened my knowledge of why people relinquish or lose custody of their children. It’s not always for the reasons you first imagine.
6. KEEP A JOURNAL
Throughout your entire journey I suggest you keep a diary of some kind. Talk about the process, how you feel and where you’re at. There are so many things you’ll forget along the way (if you’re anything like us!) I wish I had kept some kind of record of our process.
7. BE PREPARED TO WAIT
It took us three years in total to go through our application process, approval and wait time. Although we did not end up adopting due to my surprise pregnancy, we were still offered the chance to consider a child. However, the rules say we could not adopt at that time due to my pregnancy. We didn’t expect to have another baby naturally.
8. DON’T DISCRIMINATE AGAINST YOURSELF
Whether you’re in your 40′s trying to adopt or whether you’ve already got children and wanting to add to your family, do not feel that you are not worthy. Many of us, including my husband and I, felt discriminated against during training. However, on closer inspection I realised it was actually me doing all of the discriminating. You see, we would sit in a room full of childless couples and here we were, already with one biological child, trying to adopt a second. I felt so selfish for sometime however, those feelings were not right. There are children out there who would have been better suited to us due to the fact that we had already established a family and their a little ones out there who would have been the perfect fit for a childless couple.
Another common discrimination that people put upon themselves is their health status. Ask the necessary questions before making your own judgement as you might be surprised.
9. BE OPEN
Imagine this. You’re desperate for a baby however, have you considered a four year old? Or, you’re dreaming of having a little girl, have you considered giving all that love to an equally deserving little boy? If you come into the adoption and permanent care world with one objective and with no wiggle room, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. Chances are you’d make an awesome parent in any of these situations because you’re considering providing a forever home to a child that hasn’t quite found that yet.
10. MORE ON THAT DREADED WAIT...
There’s no ‘list’ like some imagine where you’re ticked of as they work down the list of prospective parents. A child is matched to potential parents and potential parents are matched with the child. That’s why the worker assigned to you will ask you so many questions. What I remember most is with every comment I made, it swiftly was accompanied with ‘why?’
‘Why do you feel that way?’
‘Why do you think that is your view?’
‘Why, why, why, WHY?!’
So be prepared to answer their questions. Be confident with your answers and most of all, be honest. You’re getting matched remember, you’re not trying to seek approval.
Good luck to all who decide to embark on the local adoption and permanent care journey. Stay tuned as I’m going to talk more about this topic if that is what you want. I have a ton of information and advice!