“It takes a village to raise a child.” The origin of this popular saying, some believe, originated from an ancient African proverb; others believe it came from a Native American Tribe. It’s a proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child, where that child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role.
This can certainly be said of adopting a child. But instead of village, for now, I will use the term adoption team.
So, what is an adoption team and who’s on it? I’m so glad you asked!
An adoption team consists of experts, friends and family, who are going to guide and support you along your adoption journey – each with a very specific role. It is this team who are going to help you make the best decisions, lead you to the right match as quickly as possible and give you hugs when you need them along the way – and you’ll need them!
Everybody needs a team – it’s pertinent to the adoption process. Just like if you were to have surgery, you don’t just rely on the doctor. There are people there to do your intake, prep the room, get your stats, hand the doctor instruments, monitor your medication… get my drift?
So, who makes up your team?
- Home study agency & social worker -Your home study is done to make sure you are legally cleared to adopt, that you are who you say you are, and that you are prepared to bring a child into your lives. The social worker that does your home study will be spending a lot of time with your family prior to your adoption and even after you bring the baby home.
- Adoption Placement agency (ies) – Um, it goes without saying why your adoption agency is so important, but if you need me to spell it out for you, here it goes… This is the place that will likely facilitate the adoption of your baby! J If you’re curious about the reference to multiple agencies, check out my FAQ video for your answer.
- Adoption Attorney – You will definitely need an attorney to finalize your adoption. This typically happens 6 months after you bring your baby home and it makes the adoption legal and final. Attorneys can also be utilized to review agency contracts, and sometimes, adoption attorneys can act as an agency and facilitate matches. If you end up doing an independent adoption, where you find an expectant mother on your own, you will likely want to reach out to an attorney to help with that process as well.
- Doctor – Preferably an OBGYN or Pediatrician – This is one that not everyone thinks about and I think can be one of the most important people on your team. You have to feel comfortable with whatever situation you choose for you and your family. Most of us don’t know the effects to a baby when exposed to substances or the ramifications with a family background of physical and mental health issues. There is rarely a perfect situation, so it’s best to consult with an expert in order to make the most educated decisions you can, rather than unknowingly accept or pass up a situation. An educated, professional opinion and insight is super important.
- Counselor / Coach / Therapist who specializes in adoption – We all have thoughts and feelings around adoption. I hear them everyday, feelings of grief, FEAR, anxiety, depression, control (or lack of it), and the list goes on. Nobody is really immune. And it’s not only before starting out on our adoption journey, but after you are a parent as well. How and when do you begin to tell your child their story? When your child starts asking questions about his or her adoption, will you be prepared? Probably not, we never are! The point is, these are all things that you will experience at some point and it would be great to develop a relationship with an adoption counselor from the onset, so you know whom to call upon as these issues continue to surface? I’ve personally dealt with all of these thoughts and feelings, and I still do. I wish someone had suggested I work with an adoption coach who could have helped me through some of these feelings…I’m happy to have finally found someone. Because not only do we have to deal with our own feelings, but that of our child’s and our family’s as well.
- Adoption Consultant – So, let me toot my own horn for a second. I became an adoption consultant after using one myself. After my own personal journey, I felt so passionate that nobody should venture out on their adoption journey alone. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know – and how would you? You’re not an adoption expert. By the time you begin your adoption journey, you just want your baby in your arms already! Am I right? I cringe when people say they have been waiting years because I don’t think it has to take that long. But most people don’t know their options. Now, you do! That’s why you hire an adoption consultant. To help educate you, hold your hand through each step, help make the right connections for you and guide you to your baby in a quicker, smoother and safer manner.
- Family, support groups – While you may or may not feel comfortable sharing your adoption journey with all your friends and family (and if you are, great – you never know how you will find the right match for you), hopefully you have their support and if you do, embrace it! You will need cheerleaders in a world that can be so critical and opinionated, a shoulder to cry on when your roller coaster gets to the bottom of a hill and people to love you unconditionally. Support groups are also terrific and can fill that same space for you – I found a single mothers by choice group that I still remain active in today, and there are a ton of great adoption FB groups.
- YOU! – Maybe I should have started with the most obvious. You are the most important people/person on your team. So, stay out of your own way and allow your dream to come true! Stay positive, lead with an open mind and more importantly an open heart. Let your team guide you when you need to be led, let go (if you need to let go) and envision your baby in your arms. He or she is coming!!
It truly takes a village to be an adoptive family and certainly doesn’t end when you bring your baby home. I can’t stress enough the importance of being part of an adoptive family community. It’s important for you, the parents, but also for your child, to be surrounded by other children like them. If you don’t know where to go to connect, start with your home study agency and your consultant.
Whether you call it a team or a village, the community you build around you for support, guidance, education and love, can make all the difference in the world.
Embrace the journey!