POST-PLACEMENT SUPERVISION: A NECESSARY LAST STEP IN YOUR
WHAT IS POST-PLACEMENT SUPERVISION?
Post-placement supervision for an Ethiopian adoption is a series of meetings one of which is conducted in your home with the entire family and the social worker. Other in-person meetings may take place in the offices of the adoption agency. Reports, based on the interviews, are then filed with your adoption placement agency, adoption home study agency and the appropriate Ethiopian officials. These reports by the social worker usually include 3-6 photographs of your child, some of which are of the child alone and others with you and your family, and a current medical report or statement.
WHY IS AGREEING TO POST-PLACEMENT SUPERVISION IMPORTANT BEFORE I ADOPT FROM ETHIOPIA?
Ethiopia requires this commitment and all agencies dealing with Ethiopia must comply with this requirement. Also the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services will only grant approval for an adoption if the family agrees to participate in this process. This commitment is therefore duly noted by your social worker in your Adoption Home Study for Ethiopia. Citizenship and Immigration Services, CIS, will only grant approval to families who agree to participate in post-placement supervision. It is therefore mandatory if you wish to adopt a child from Ethiopia.
Your home study will include a section:
SUMMARY OF THE COUNSELING GIVEN AND PLANS FOR POST-PLACEMENT COUNSELING AND SUPERVISION.
The your name family agrees to comply with all requirements for post-placement counseling and supervision.
WHAT ARE THE FEES FOR THIS SERVICE?
Your agency will outline the fee structure. Due to the importance of maintaining close contact with the adoptive family some agencies require this fee along with other adoption charges be paid prior to placement of your Ethiopian child to ensure the visits are conducted as per governmental regulations. The fees vary based on number of visits and location of in-person meetings.
NOW THAT I HAVE CUSTODY OF MY CHILD FROM ETHIOPIA WHY IS SUPERVISION NECESSARY?
Many adoptive parents think this but few venture to ask in part because they have become accustomed to the many regulations they must follow. It is a very good question and the answer recalls rumors of baby selling, trafficking in baby parts and anti-adoption sentiments in other parts of the world. Thus to assure the courts and government of Ethiopia and America that the child was placed in a home meeting international standards, agreements for post placement supervision were instituted.
It is absolutely imperative these reports be filed on time and that all appointments scheduled with the social worker are conducted in a timely fashion. I can personally attest that in at least 3 instances when reports were not filed promptly agencies were told lack of adherence to the agreement would result in the adoption program being shut down. Under these circumstances it is important full responsibility be maintained for keeping all appointments.
There are also other reasons why post-placement supervision is essential for adoptive parents. It provides the documentation to your state court that your family is recommended as the adoptive home of your child. This is a particularly important step for those families who wish to adopt in America thereby insuring their child will be heir to all the rights and privileges of an American citizen.
GENERALLY HOW MANY REPORTS ARE NEEDED?
The number of reports varies according to your state and Ethiopia. Your social worker will provide you with a timetable for appointments. Ethiopia requires 2 Post-Placement Supervisory Visits with your social worker.
Post-placement supervisory visits may range from 1-3 hours depending on the focus and the issues brought to discussion by the family and social worker.
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE FIRST POST-PLACEMENT SUPERVISORY INTERVIEW?
The challenges facing first time parents are overwhelming. It is because of the evolving questions that deal with child rearing, personal development, and family dynamics that post-placement supervision comes at this most opportune time, for with the post-placement period marks the onset of family and the transition to parenthood.
Mindful of the pressures you face this is also one of the few times you will have the luxury to reflect on your own feelings, the progress of your child and the adjustment of your family. While adoption can be a joyous time it brings with it the awakening that child rearing under any circumstances is neither simple no easy. For parents adopting from Ethiopia there are issues of the child’s age at adoption; genetic predispositions; past experiences; medical history and the duration of institutionalization which contribute to making your child what s/he is like at the time of adoption. With this in mind we can view the post-placement supervisory experience as a time of learning, support and enlightenment and about what happens when a family with love in its heart shares its love with a new child. So read through this material, understand how these meetings will be helpful to you, have pictures available for your social worker and then relax.
We will now turn our attention to the format of a Post-Placement
POST-PLACEMENT SUPERVISORY VISIT
1-ADJUSTMENT AND GROWTH OF YOUR ETHIOPIAN CHILD
The specific purpose of these contacts is to visit with the child and adoptive family to monitor the child’s adjustment and development and to review family life. If this is your first meeting with the social worker, have a current medical report available as well as copy of your child’s inoculation booklet. If you are working with a pediatrician who specializes in international adoptions you will want to have your child’s current height and weight available for comparison to the discharge medical your child received from Ethiopia.
Likewise always ask the doctor how your child rates in terms of height and weight with other children of the same age. For instance if you child is in the 50th percentile for weight that means most children are at that weight. If your child is above the 50th percentile in height that is a sign of being taller and if the number is in the 30th percentile in weight it may mean your child needs to gain more weight or is just simply small boned. What is of prime importance is your child’s healthful development and the physician who is mindful of medical problems specific to Ethiopia and their course of treatment. After all we as Americans are blessed to have some of the best pediatric care in the entire world and we are urged to use preventive and intervention services for our children.
Your child’s skin is of importance to your social worker and a visual body check of an infant during diaper change is required by certain states to ascertain the skin is clear and well maintained. This is particularly significant when a child has a history of diaper rash or fungus as I witnessed during a recent trip to an orphanage in Ethiopia.
Likewise all issues pertaining to your child will be discussed including diet and favorite foods, digestion, naps, sleeping and bath time. Too this is the time to share your exuberance over your child’s emerging personality. Whether it is his smile; or her joy at listening to music or the welcome given to family when they step through the door all of this is important to share.
For the Supervisory Visit some families like to share their child’s baby book or Life Book with the social worker because it offers so graphically your child’s progress since placement. Here pictures of your child at home, at play or with relatives at family occasions can be displayed and perfectly document “a day in the life” of your child, in addition to being kept as forever memories of your child’s earliest experiences with you.
Your social worker is just as interested as you in your child’s developmental skills. So for young children you will be able to describe how you child is attracted to light, turns to the direction of sound, enjoys being cuddled and grasps at objects. For slightly older children there is the excitement of the first steps and hearing their first words. All of this brings with it the observing nature of the parent who is attuned to her child’s interests, ability to focus and motivation. It is these observations which the family will share with the social worker and which indicate growth and maturation. Be open to discuss bonding and attachment and how the child has responded to the new environment.
Too, please discuss behaviors which you do not understand such as chronic crying even though you child is fed and dry; the hoarding of food; lying, fears and bad dreams. You may find it helpful to maintain a diary listing the date of the event; description of what occurred and what you did to remedy the situation. Then when the social worker visits you can confer on how to deal with this predicament. Use this likewise as a model with your pediatrician.
You may want to use the Behavior Journal to clearly define your concerns.
YOUR CHILD’S NAME
DATE OF BIRTH
COUNTRY OF BIRTH; ETHIOPIA
DATE OF PLACEMENT
LIST INDIVIDUALLY THE BEHAVIORS THAT CONCERN YOU
FEAR OF STRANGERS (for example)
DATE: WHEN DID THIS BEHAVIOR FIRST APPEAR?
WHERE DID IT OCCUR?
WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES?
WHAT DID YOU DO?
HOW DID THE SITUATION RESOLVE AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?
HOW DOES THIS BEHAVIOR MAKE YOU FEEL
NOTE ALL DATES THE SITUATION HAS REOCCURRED
WRITE DOWN THE CIRCUMSTANCES
LIST YOUR INTERVENTIONS
RECORD IF THE BEHAVIORS HAVE ESCALATED
**You may use this format or design your own. What is important
is to carefully document these behaviors, separately, for discussion with your pediatrician, social worker and/or child’s teacher.
1-ADJUSTMENT AND GROWTH OF YOUR ETHIOPIAN CHILD (continued)
The reassuring news is the American government realizes young children, including those adopted from Ethiopia, have developmental delays which are on a continuum. Free Early Childhood Intervention programs are thus available in your community to provide a range of in-home therapeutic services including fine motor coordination, speech therapy and bonding strategies. All are geared to supporting the family and introducing them to ways to foster their child’s developmental milestones and cognitive abilities. For a listing of your local services you can contact your local education department. A few words of advice: always interview with the agencies before finalizing your decision and remember although intervention is provided till age 3 an informed parent can have these services extended with proper documentation.
In concluding this discussion on the new child’s adjustment also include her/his reactions to other children in the household as well as their feelings to the newest addition.
We now turn our attention to the adoptive parents’ response to parenthood and part II of the Post-Placement Supervisory Meeting