If you think it’s too personal…

In this, The Blog section of The Adoption Social, we welcome contributions either anonymous or named on any subject related to adoption. In the past we’ve published poetry, emotional pieces, rants and useful information, so if you’d like to contribute, then please do get in touch.

We acknowledge that lots of people who read The Adoption Social don’t necessarily have their own blogs to write on, so please do feel free to use this space to have your say.

Today’s post comes from an adoptive parent who has chosen to remain anonymous…

I’ve been there, through the process, and I have my kids as a result.
I wanted my kids more than anything.
I was desperate to become a mum, especially after spending so much time having IVF, and other fertility treatments. We spent 2 years getting approved, linked and matched and 8 years on I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what I don’t understand is why so many prospective adopters complain about the adoption process. I mean seriously – you want a kid don’t you? That’s why you’re doing it? If you find the questions too invasive, too personal, too probing then perhaps you’re not the right person to adopt, or perhaps you need to ask your social worker to explain why they’re asking you those questions.Questions for prospective adopters

You think it’s personal when they ask that you’re financially secure? Wait until you have to give up work because your child has so many issues that you need to be there 24/7. Yes even school age children.

You think they’re probing when they ask about your relationship with your partner? Wait until your child is using every trick up their sleeve to rip you away from your partner, trying to make you side with them, using you against each other.

You think they’re being nosy when they ask about your childhood? Wait until something your child does triggers a moment in your childhood and sends you spiralling.

You think they’re being over-the-top by asking you to be reflective? Just wait until you’re in family therapy and you have to reconsider your parenting style, your partner’s parenting style, your relationship, your family routines and everything else is under scrutiny.

You think it’s insignificant when they want to see a strong support network? Wait until all your friends have dropped away because they a) don’t understand the way you parent b) don’t agree with the way you parent c) can’t handle being around your children d) don’t like their children spending time with your ‘wild ones’ e) tell you ‘all children do that’ or f) don’t/can’t understand why you need their support.

There are reasons for every question you are asked in your homestudy. If you don’t understand them then ASK your social worker.
Your social worker wants to see that you can answer their questions honestly, and they want the right answers of course, but they will also want you to question them – no good being compliant just to get through the process.  Use the homestudy to ask questions, research, learn, speak to other adopters, and find out what post adoption support there is – that’s what you need to worry about, not whether the questions are too personal.

24 thoughts on “If you think it’s too personal…

  1. JanesPain

    all nice information but what they forgot to ask is why are you adopting? Why not help a struggling woman instead of being a part of a machine that destroys them to satisfy your infertility. The definition of an orphan is a child with NO living family or extended family to care for them. Evidently the adoption market exists to satisfy infertiles needs instead of the other way around. Otherwise, why would everyone want an infant when in the US alone- 155,000 children & teens go unadopted and age out of the system and are put out on the street. Laws need to change to stop this multi billion dollar scam.

    1. Sarah - The Puffin Diaries

      Whilst I truly believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, you are basing your views very much on the US adoption system. My own experience of the UK care system is that support and help is given to families before the decision to remove children is made. Unfortunately the decisions has to be made as some children are in serious danger if they remain with birth parents. I’m not saying mistakes aren’t made and I don’t even believe the system is perfect. However, as it stands, some children do require loving stable homes that are not with the family into which they were born and thankfully, for what ever reason, some people are prepared to offer this.
      Also my own experience of the adoption process was not one I found intrusive, I accepted the intensity of the study as preparation for adoption. However I’m really not sure what could be done at that stage to really show me the true possibilities of how hard it can be. But this is not everyone’s experience, it’s mine and many factors will affect each persons own experiences of adoption.

    2. Suddenly Mummy

      I must agree that your comment seems to be mainly informed by the US system. As a foster carer in the UK, I can assure you that enormous efforts are made to keep families together and if the birth parent can’t manage, other family members are approached and assessed. Adoption only happens after all that proves fruitless. I had one child stay with me for 18 months while numerous professionals attempted to help get family to a position to care for him safely again. For many reasons it didn’t work out. I think 18 months is long enough for a small child to wait while his future is decided. Now he is in a stable adoptive home where his safety is not constantly being put at risk.

      1. lindsay

        I agree. My son’s BP had 3 kids put I to care before him and the authority still waited over 2 years before deciding that he wasnt safe there. TWO YEARS of of giving him no medical attention, no doctors appointments, no attention and no stimulation. He was born deaf and everybody knew but his BP neglected all needs including this extra need for TWO YEARS. I think that is more than fair to give them a chance, especially given their past history with THREE other kids in care and in fact very unfair to him who now struggles to catch up.
        Also, every single person in our adoption classes wanted a child or teenager to raise. Not one person wanted a baby. Again, maybe this is different in the US than Canada but I dont think you can generalize your statements to all adoptioners.

    3. Mrs Family of 5

      I agree with everyone else. My children were born on to the child protection register along with all their older siblings. My youngest was 2 when she was finally taken in to care along with all of her older siblings.
      They tried to help the family!

  2. Treemendouskids

    Great article. Couldn’t agree more. We’re going through the process and I’m honestly scared of the potential of our prospective damaged children to push my buttons, this is all good preparation.

    1. onroadtoadopt

      Yes at times we got frustrated with the process and wandered why we were being asked the same question (basically) again. However unlike some first time adopters we sort of had an idea of what was going on thanks to my sister being an adopter through same agency. Now at other end we can see the reasons behind a lot of what we were asked.

  3. Adoption Journey Blog

    Fantastic post. When reading the press reports on complaints about the adoption process I’ve also thought everything set out above. Yes it is a painful, invasive and timeconsuming process but in many ways it needs to be. All the questions have a reason and a good basis of fact. Given teh rewards of becomiong a parent and the rewards of adopting they ar ea very very small price to pay!

  4. Suddenly Mummy

    I have blogged on a similar topic myself in the past, with similar thoughts. I, too, get tired of ill-informed press reports claiming that it is the intrusive approvals process that puts people off adopting. They ignore the fact that adoption is about children, and not about potential adopters. If our own children were going to stay with someone else, we would be concerned to make sure that they would be safe, their needs would be catered for, and they were left with the right people. Even when choosing babysitters, we put effort into making sure we’re getting someone we can trust with the job. The State are temporarily these children’s parents and it is their duty to do right by the children, even if it means an intrusive, sometimes frustrating and sometimes painful approvals process – we shouldn’t expect anything less.

    On the other hand, when the frustration is caused purely by admin delays, lack of organisation and poor communications then, yes, I do get annoyed!

  5. Al Coates

    Good post well written.
    The process has to be intrusive, applicants reaction to the questions and the manner they approach them can reveal more about their ability to manage stress, consider difficult issues and respond to unforeseen events than the answers themselves. If a SW asks, “what if a child gets into your bed during the night” and you say “oh, I never thought of that it would be fine”then your better half gives a different answer discussed and resolved gives more of an insight than a textbook answer. That stuff may not make it’s way into the paperwork but it gives your SW an insight and that’s invaluable, it can build confidence, hopefully. Having sat on an adoption panel that confidence can be apparent in the PAR and it does help.
    As for the length of the process, the government push to reduce approval time smells of popularism, the process should take as long as it takes. My first one was long and the subsequent three got quicker and shorter. But to say that it will make a difference to children is nonsense. The process is a pipeline with approved adopters coming through at a steady pace. If you want to get children adopted sooner then place money into children’s social care, free up family court time and give SW the resources to do the work.

    1. Vicki

      It feels like the original poster was able to view the process differently from many. Most of the adopters I know have found aspects of the process challenging and frustrating – I did too at times, although found it more reflective than challenging. But I agree with you Al. I think how you handle the questions is as important as how you answer them. I think speeding up the process is a suggestion designed to appeal to those who have heard stories about how long it all takes in an attempt to recruit more prospective adopters.

      If the OP is reading, perhaps you’d like to come back and respond to some of these comments? I can tell by your writing that you feel strongly about this…

  6. Jen

    I found the article well written with interesting points in it and as someone who is going through the adoption process, it made me think more about why certain questions are being asked of us. However, I do think more support needs to be given by the social workers to the people trying to adopt. Why shouldn’t they explain to us why they want answers to the questions in the workbook? I will, without question, go into every detail of my life to date and wait to be judged and analysed because I know that’s what we’ve got to do to be considered as adopters and also to go someway to prepare, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need support from social workers along the way. Just for the record in response to an earlier point, if we are lucky enough to get that far, we are hoping for an older child.

  7. Smiling BM

    Interesting and thought provoking piece.
    I wonder every day how my children and there new parents are coping knowing that there hormones and ways are different but for all there faults in the UK there very good at speaking and assessing.
    The questions and intrusiveness works both ways. All the time parallel planning is happening with the upmost respect given to the ‘best interests of the child’.
    When it comes to the crunch its often a member of the Birth Family who requests…’ a church goer’ ‘ a mature couple’ ‘ someone who likes animals and long walks’.
    The adoption process is hard for everyone involved and its sad that the last person that gets the PROPER CARE and ATTENTION IS ‘THE CHILD’.

  8. Threebecomefour

    I agree with the points you raise, although agree with Suddenly Mummy that admin errors that delay the process (as in our case) are not acceptable. I worry that the process is being too streamlined and things will get missed, particularly as many SWs have huge caseloads and the new system will add more pressure to their caseloads and mistakes may be made. I agree that you may not understand why you need to be so scrutinised as a prospective adopter. I appreciate that scrutiny more now than I did with our first adoption. I do think this post has been written in a way to be thought provoking. The tone of the post is challenging. Some may feel overly so but that will depend on your perspective. I’m not sure it is necessary to present a piece quite so overly challenging towards people who have already overcome a hurdle and made a decision that they want to be adopters. We should be supporting them. Many people pull put of the process because they feel daunted and anxious by the way the process is presented by SWs. Some might say that sorts the wheat from the chaff but I know of people who would make good parents who have pulled out due to the way the process is presented. I think there is a balance to be struck between realities and scaring people off and also in assessing and supporting people to look at training needs. We are a select bunch. Lets support each other not chide people for wondering why the process needs to know so much. Maybe the system needs to explain it better to prospective adopters. Maybe prospective adopters need to speak to more adopters to enable them to understand “why” more clearly. Maybe the media needs to get it’s facts right as well. Thank you for writing a piece that has made me think and want to stop and articulate my thoughts.

    1. Vicki

      I agree with you Gem that this piece is challenging, and I agree that for those just beginning the adoption process, having already made a decision to adopt it could be difficult to read, and perhaps even feel accusatory.
      I think for me, there are two main messages in this post – question more if you feel unsure, confused, unhappy, or uncomfortable with any aspect of the process, and I think the OP is trying todemonstrate, with hindsight and experience, why these questions are important. Despite the strength of tone and feeling in this post, I do think the OP is trying to offer support.

      I’d be interested to hear if the OP adopted her children together or separately and how she found the process/es. Did they differ if separately?

  9. @ivavnuk

    I think it’s a well written piece. I also think though it sounds to be written with specific people in mind.

    I have read views of people online who seem to say “what are they (the SW’s) messing about with !? These children need homes” – mistaking carefulness for procrastination. Also I’ve read views that seem to be based upon ‘we deserve children – how dare they!’ – a view which seems to reveal a lack of empathy for the children’s backgrounds and the mechanics of the system.

    Home study is stressful – but I never doubted the validity of it or wether it was necessary. I trusted the system. I knew that these children had been let down – and that the SW’s were trying to be sure it wouldn’t happen again.

    As soon as the situation isn’t seen in terms of yourself – but in terms of the children – it makes sense.

    1. Al Coates

      I think one of the complexities of adoption is that you are bringing together children who have experienced loss, separation and often trauma, and adults, who may have experienced the loss and grief of childessness and failed IVF treatment.
      Managing the needs of both parties is critical, there is a presumption that the adults may have a higher level of resiliance, however this may not be the case. SW have a duty of care for the applicants as their service users, the children have their own workers. Often applicants bring a measure of baggage to the process and the SW has to negotiate this and try and try to assess that it will not jeopardise their capacity to parent vulnerable and potentially challenging children.
      At times the process challenges and some find it too onerous and intrusive, perhaps for some this is an indication of an unwillingness to acknowledge or address these issues. I did say perhaps, for some they just don’t like it, for some it’s just ‘a road you must travel’ to get to your destination.
      Good post topic.

  10. LadyFaa

    Wow, I have just joined this forum and the insights are amazing. As someone who is involved in placing children (not assessing adopters although I have in the distant past) this original post I didn’t find challenging but very honest. I do wonder 2 things, one is it explained fully to adopters why these questions are asked and 2 if it is do adopters ‘really listen’ at the stage before the children are placed with them. I have the privilege to work with many adoptive families in my private work post adoption. I admire their tenacity and their honesty. Often we talk about were the warning signs about the children there before they were placed? and if they were did they as parents ignore some of them thinking SW were exaggerating? Many times adopters will say a mixture of both. At the stage before the children are placed adopters would walk through fire to get their children who even before they have met have connected with. I wish I knew the solution. What I do know is thank you one and all for coming forward to claim our children

  11. david

    I agree that most of the questions are needed, such as making sure you are financial situation. There are however limits to what you should be asked about. there are single people that were asked about their sex lives and applicants have been forced to discuss their rape with a social worker. I can understand some issues being discussed with a qualified professonal, but the idea that you are not fit to adopt because you will not discuss your rape is insulting. Social workers are notorious for making bad judgments and you only have to look at how many children are passed from bad foster placement to another to see how all these questions don’t work.


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