Self-Advocacy in the Adoption Process

Hopeful adoptive parents can take action to increase their chances of getting matched.

 

Tanya F., her husband, and their 8-year-old son began their adoption process of two years in June 2017 by attending a meeting/matching event to gather information about the process and available local children. 

“We'd been talking about adopting an older child from foster care for several years, and it finally felt like the right time in our lives to jump all in,” she said. “Little did we know what a long journey it would be.”

That journey was one, like so many others, spotted with waiting, hoping, and disappointments. Above those things, though, it was one of self-advocacy and action. The adoption world is filled with many interests: the state, the birth family, foster parents, the children themselves, and the professionals trying to assist each of these groups. The more proactive hopeful parents can be, the higher the chances of finding a successful match.

Submit on Children Frequently

After completing their training, paperwork, and home study, the family was approved to adopt one child aged 6-12 through the state in April 2018. Over the next few months, Tanya submitted on at least 40 children.

While she did not hear back on many of them, this is an important element for hopeful parents. The more times a family is considered, the higher the chance of meeting the right child.

Attend Matching Events

Tanya and her husband attended their second matching event in June of 2018. 

“We were both immediately drawn to the profile of a 16-year-old girl,” Tanya said. “We spent the next 3 hours talking to her adoption worker and her caseworker, watching videos of her, and looking at her artwork on the worker's tablet.”

Matching events not only allow hopeful parents to view potential adoptive children, but they provide an immediate opportunity to learn about them from their caseworker rather than waiting to hear on an online submission. They also allow caseworkers to gain an immediate impression of the potential match. 

The family expanded their age range to 7-17 and kept in weekly contact with the teen girl’s caseworker, but eventually heard back that they were not selected as a match.

Seek Support and New Connections

“Heartbroken, we pressed on,” Tanya said. “I joined several online foster/adopt support groups looking for more ways to advocate my family and make connections.” 

Part of that process was switching to a private adoption agency after realizing they wanted more support than the state could provide. 

In early 2019, they met a 9-year-old girl through a foster parent, babysat for her, and expressed their interest in adoption. Since their new agency required another home study, however, the state chose another family for her.

“Heartbroken, we pressed on. I joined several online foster/adopt support groups looking for more ways to advocate my family and make connections.”

Speak Up for Your Family

In addition to finding a new agency, the search for connections brought the family to A Family for Every Child’s (AFFEC) website. 

“It took some convincing to get our family worker to upload our home study. But once our family profile was up and running with AFFEC's MAP program, I was back to submitting our family for consideration on several children per week. Through AFFEC, I actually began to receive responses, and more importantly, found hope again that we'd find our future child.”

Keep Pushing Through

It was Tanya’s insistence that the family be linked with AFFEC that eventually led to a match with a 14-year-old girl. 

"[She had] the deepest, most soulful eyes... and her profile description listed all the same common interests that our family enjoyed.  I immediately forwarded the email to my husband, but he was still sad over our recent loss and wasn't sure he was ready to seriously look at new considerations. Knowing how long it usually took back to hear from children's caseworkers, if at all, I went ahead and sent an inquiry with a note about our new home study that had just become available through AFFEC.  The wait this time wasn't long, though, as we received news just days later.” 

In June 2019, nearly two years to the day they started their adoption journey, Tanya and her family found out they’d been matched. Within a few weeks, they had her full file and began the process of adopting their daughter. 

“The process of adopting from foster care is not for the faint of heart and among the many new things you'll learn about trauma, parenting, and even about yourself, lies a lesson in patience,” Tanya said. “Just when you think you've reached a milestone, you may find yourself continuing to wait. However, as parents, our waiting and our anxious feelings pale in comparison to that of the many children searching for a new family to call their own.  Our long road was more than worth it, and our adoption match has proven to be a great fit — we feel as if our daughter was always meant to be with us, and our family is complete.”