I receive quite a number of calls every week asking for help in adopting a child. I give out as much information as I possibly could but there is nothing more important to get pre-adoption counselling especially from someone who may have been through the journey of adoption and also who is in the area of adoption currently.
I qualify in those two areas and I have been counselling the prospective adoptive parents for the past 15+ years and I want to share a few thoughts to help you understand why it is so important to get this counselling.
If you’ve read the adoption regulations from front to back and vice versa and believe that you’re ready to adopt, you couldn’t be more far from the truth. What is given in the regulations document is the legal aspects but this journey of adoption includes emotions, ethics and morals which are not covered.
My suggestion to the prospective adoptive parents is this: Get yourself pre-adoption counselling from someone who qualified in the two criterion that I have stated above (preferably not from a specialized adoption agency as there is a conflict of interest), even before you do the registration. On the contrary CARA regulations require you to get the counselling after registration but my argument is this: When you physically register on the CARA portal, you have taken the first step and you become emotionally attached to the journey of adoption. You might find it difficult to detach yourself from this journey if you find out something that you do not want to proceed with. Hence, get the pre-adoption counselling before the registration with an open mind to drop out if you need to and you might find it much easier to do as there is no emotional attachment to this journey.
If I may share my experience of attending the pre-adoption counselling for our first child (we have adopted two girls from India while living in the US) in Houston, TX and I remember going in there with a rigid Indian male chauvinistic mindset. I went in their believing that I will not share the fact about adoption to my daughter but when the female adult adoptee of Korean origin made the presentation, my decision was made by end of her session that I will share the fact to my adoptive child. It was a powerful presentation.
Likwise, there are so many other items (like meeting adoptive families along with their children over for lunch on that day) made a whole of difference to see children and to be able to interact with parents and to know the best practices to follow.
There are many families that get into the journey of adoption without pre-adoption counselling but it is like driving a vehicle blindfolded. You’re making a life-long commitment to have a relationship and you better know what you’re getting into. Otherwise, there could be a lifetime of pain that is waiting to strike you when you’re totally unprepared.