So we were 12 months into the declaration (which has a 24 month limit before needing a 12 month extension) when we had a discussion with the adoption agency about changing country. We decided to change. This meant that we ended up compiling 2 dossiers in 12 months. That brings us up to now. The dossier should be with the agency in another week or 2 we hope. We have changed country to adopt from Vietnam. The first thing I did when we decided to change was to buy some books on Vietnam as I like to get an image of the country in my head and build an association with it.
Getting the dossier together can be pretty exhausting. This brings me to the thoughts of how we cope with the times we are overloaded with thoughts and information and how we process this.
At many times throughout the journey of getting our paperwork lodged in the first country we needed to take breathers. Like during the preparation course when they are giving you the whole “It’s not a walk in the park spiel”, make you watch videos of orphanages from 1990 in Romania and discuss the horror stories about attachment issues. We would spend the evenings zoning out on the couch watching T.V. after dinner or do nice things at the weekends but the main thing was we wouldn’t talk about “the thing we were processing” (for want of a better term) for a week or 2. We’ve kind-of carried that on. There’s just not enough energy and headspace for everything. Just know, it’s ok to not be in full-on adoption mode all the time. Take it in stages and deal with what you have to and try and take time off when you can. I would always try and get any paperwork that was waiting on us out of the way before we crashed out but sometimes it won’t matter if it’s done today or tomorrow so take the time as you need it. Everyone copes differently and processes in different ways but make sure you and your OH come back to each other at the end of the week or 2 weeks, acknowledge the difficult period, discuss it as needed and move on, into the next stage.
The following is inspired by a recent chat with someone on their own adoption journey. I mentioned previously about the preparation course and kept it vague. As I mentioned above, some of the information can be pretty heavy. First off I’d like to mention the video we are made to watch is harrowing BUT it is almost 30 years old as far as I can remember. What I kept in mind during the whole course is The Hague Convention is actively in operation in the countries that Ireland has an adoption agreement with. Therefore they have standards that need to be met within orphanages and Tusla don’t seem to have amended their course to accommodate this update. It is not always optimum care like if they were cared from birth in your home however it should be nothing like what is in the video. On that note, yes, attachment should be at the forefront of your mind when you meet your child and everything you do in the first year or more should have their attachment needs considered however, many many orphanages operate a keyworker system or foster care placements, therefore they should have built a primary attachment and although they may grieve the loss of this caregiver, it is usually a good sign that they had a healthy attachment and as time goes on, will build that bonding and attachment with you, their parents.
I feel like this post is a bit scattered but I’d also like to mention, the feedback we got during our preparation course about adopting a child over 3 years old. As mention we didn’t do our prep course in our region and the region we did do it in expressed that they wouldn’t approve a homestudy for children over 3 years old / 36 months. I think this narrow age range is limiting prospects for Potential Adoptive Parents (PAP’s). We have approval up to 72 months. As you can see from the ‘reading list’, I read a lot. I also read a lot of American blogs. I read about families that have very successful adoptions of ‘older children’ and books written specifically for parenting an adopted older child. I am qualified, and work with children up to 6 years of age and so I felt very comfortable with an adoption up to 72 months/6 years old. I wouldn’t be afraid to push it a little with your social worker as there are successful outcomes with older children (We didn’t have to push anything, our SW accepted our age range from the get-go). I have spoken to families in my region that have adopted 4 and 5 year olds and they are coming on splendidly. With any adopted child issues will likely arise at some point in the future. There are many therapies available, Play Therapy in particular being very beneficial for an adoptive family.
I think the hardest part of adopting an older child is knowing you have missed out on so much time with them, however, if everyone thought this way we’d all only adopt newborns.
*Process for changing country on existing declaration
-Discuss with Adoption Agency
-Contact your SW, probably arrange meeting to discuss it with them
-SW writes an Addendum Report for the Homestudy and makes a recommendation, sends to AAI (Shouldn’t need to go to LAC)
-Approval from AAI – Newly issued Article 15 – Declaration for new country of choice
-Compile Dossier, Notary, Apostilled, and sent to Adoption Agency