Mike Watkins, Chief Executive Officer of Big Bend Community Based Care once stated that “Adoption success begins with a commitment to support adoptive families. Successful adoption programmes require the recognition that adoption is a lifelong process and the understanding that there will be lifelong challenges associated with adoption. Adopted children often have experienced significant trauma as a result of some type of mistreatment.”
We at ‘Compassion for Orphans’ are committed to supporting adoptive families and below we detail the support that we are able to provide to adoptive families.
Our support programme is based on the following principles:
1. THE COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT ADOPTIVE FAMILIES
2. THERE NEEDS TO BE A CONNECTION AND CONTINUITY BETWEEN PRE-ADOPTION EDUCATION AND POST-ADOPTION SUPPORT
We address this by connecting pre-adoption education with post-adoption support through a co-ordinated approach. This involves making adoptive parents familiar early on with the services that are available and consistency, as far as possible, of the personnel involved (e.g. involvement of our social workers pre and post-adoption) so that adoptive parents have someone known to them that they can feel comfortable to approach, if the need arises.
We recognise the important role that the adoptive parents play as central partners in the protection of children and will be encouraged to seek support if it is required. Adoptive parents need to feel safe to seek support and that they can be given informed advice from professionals who have the skills and experience treating post institutionalised children.
3. EARLY INTERVENTION
Concerns regarding the child or the parent-child relationship need to be addressed early to help avoid the matter potentially escalating. Our social workers are available to discuss any concerns, provide support and to recommend, if required, the involvement of specialists.
4. SUPPORT SERVICES NEED TO BE INEXPENSIVE
Adoptive parents are more likely to avail themselves of support if the support is inexpensive. For this reason, ‘Compassion for Orphans’ provides access to our social workers at no charge to prospective and adoptive families. Should a matter become quite involved our social worker will provide recommendations for further support for the families.
5. ADEQUATE PREPARATION AND SUPPORT
Research suggests that adequate preparation and having realistic expectations of the adoption are also identified as significant family factors influencing the success of adoptions; families who utilise particular parenting strategies and attitudes report better outcomes with children, the type and degree of support received by the adoptive family in the form of pre and post placement services and broader community and family support are also key predictors of success.
(New Zealand Central Authority)
‘Compassion for Orphans’ provides the following preparation and support:
PRE-ADOPTION EDUCATION AND SUPPORT SERVICES:
Provision of Information Pack;
Personal Visits/Face to Face Meetings;
Compassion for Orphans’ social worker will visit (or phone if this is not practical) the prospective adoptive parents at a minimum of 6 monthly intervals after they have been approved to offer advice and support and to offer access to family mentoring and parenting skills service to families;
The staff of Compassion for Orphans will contact the prospective and adoptive parents on a regular basis including personal visits.
The Compassion for Orphans’ social worker will develop a support plan for all families that are registered in the overseas country. The support plan will identify what support is needed e.g. initial home visits, monthly follow up phone calls etc. and who will provide the support.
Conferences and Special Interest Items
Applicants will be invited to conferences (held online) covering important topics relating to intercountry adoption.
Speakers will include adoption professionals (worldwide) and authors of books on intercountry adoption.
Education and Preparation Seminar
Applicants that have been approved to adopt by the New Zealand Central Authority will be required to attend an Education and Preparation Seminar. The seminar will cover all aspects of adopting from the particular overseas country including: all steps in the process; documents required; people that will be involved in the process etc.
Family Mentoring and Parenting Skills
Surveys have shown that one of the main areas that is a pressing requirement is support with parenting.
Much of what applicants are provided with is a good theoretical grounding for their journey ahead. For many applicants who have not already parented, gaining practical experience caring for, supporting and working with children is an area that they can learn more about themselves, and in so doing, add another aspect to ‘preparedness’.
Compassion for Orphans will offer access to family mentoring and parenting skills service to families.
During the “Waiting Time”
The time between the approval by the New Zealand Central Authority and the travel to the overseas country is often referred to as the waiting time. Our preference is to call this time part of the preparation time. Applicants can use this time to learn the basic language of the overseas country (to assist with communicating with the child) and to further educate themselves on factors that affect adopted children.
Compassion for Orphans will support and assist to educate applicants during this period by:
being in regular telephone contact providing encouragement, offers of support and details of any updates;
providing relevant articles and access to resources;
providing details of support groups or adoptive parents;
providing details of upcoming conferences and items of special interest;
monitoring any changes to personal circumstances that may require updates to documentation and also that the documents have not expired;
stressing the importance of learning the language;
organise workshops with appropriate professionals
On return to New Zealand with the adopted child, Compassion for Orphans assists the family and the child’s adjustment to their new home or environment by:
contacting the family with offers of support to assist the child to adjust, advise on factors that can assist towards a successful outcome, details of adoption professionals with experience in intercountry adoption and information regarding community resources;
offering the availability of a family mentoring and parenting skills person to visit the family;
provision of contact details of others who have adopted and are willing to be contacted;
provision of details of support for adoptive parents who may be struggling with the child’s reactions, problems that are too difficult for them to manage etc;
organising ‘get togethers’ for adoptive parents, providing the opportunity to network with others who have adopted;
Providing advice on measures to assist adopted children preserve their cultural links with Chile and assist adoptive parents to recognise the value and importance of such links for the child’s future development.
Access to Adoption Specialists
The importance of professional expertise in Intercountry Adoption is recognised by Compassion for Orphans as being of high importance.
Compassion for Orphans can arrange access to a team of professionals in the areas of Medical and Developmental Assessment of the Child on Arrival, Early Intervention, Long Term Paediatric Care, Post Adoption Consultations, Reactive Attachment Disorder) who are proficient in each of their fields including:
Psychologists that have worked in the area of intercountry adoption;
Reactive Attachment Disorder therapists.