Top 10 Tips to be a fabulous adopter (by adopters)
In 2018, the National Adoption Weeks focus was all about adopters, sharing adopter real life stories and looking at what skills and attributes are required to become an adopter. Here at Adoption Matters, we don’t believe that there are perfect families. All adopters and their families are unique in their own special way, just like the children in care who are waiting for their forever home right now.
What we look for in an adopter is commitment, stability and love to help these children be the very best they can be, everything else we can help with through guidance, training and on-going support.
So, we asked lots of our adopters and searched through many online adoption blogs to compile our very own ‘Top 10 Tips to be a fabulous adopter’ list.
Here, in no particular order is the list….
No. 1 – Patience
You need this by the truck load. During the assessment process (which takes around 6 months) when will be itching to just get approved right NOW, then the waiting period to be matched to a child or children (which can take any period from a month or so to over a year) and then of course, for the all-important bit, when you do become a parent. So, patience is a real must. For the full low down on the adoption process, click here.
No. 2 – Openness
You cannot be shy and retiring if you want to adopt. You can try, but those social workers will poke and pry into every aspect of your life during the assessment process. It sounds a little daunting, but really, when you think about it, it’s pretty necessary. The children who are placed for adoption are some of the most vulnerable children in our society and we adoption agencies need to be sure that the families we place them with are suitable, up for the job and exactly who they say they are. It sounds rather harsh but it’s that simple and we won’t shy away from being honest about that.
So be prepared to talk about your past relationships, your childhood, your bank balance, your job, your weight (don’t worry, there are no scales during visits), your friends and your family. It may not all be rosy but don’t worry about that, whose life is? What really matters is you have the time and patience to offer a child or children, stability and love to help them flourish into adulthood.
No. 3 – Adaptability / Flexibility
We’re not talking yoga but the emotional sense. During the adoption assessment and placement stages of adoption, you need to be very flexible and adapt to attend meetings with professionals, schools, your social worker etc.
Our children will then need you to adapt to their ever changing needs through their whole life. We will be there with you to offer support through every step of your journey from their first week with you, to their first day at school through to teens and beyond.
No. 4 – Don’t be shy to ask for help!
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness when it comes to parenting and that’s especially true in adoption. Help can be provided in lots of different ways, from a couple of hours off to hit the shops to an evening out to a parenting training course/webinar or even an support group to meet up with other adoptive parents. A chat over a cup of tea can work wonders!
As an adopter, you will have support available to you for as long as you need it, and you may not need or want it for sometime but it is there for you, so please do use it. Our Centre for Adoption Support offers lots of workshops and training, check out the full calendar of events here.
No. 5 – The ability to ignore people’s silly comments & questions
Adoptive parents get asked a lot of unhelpful questions. Often, very private and hurtful questions. Such gems may include: ‘Oh, you aren’t her real Mum/Dad?’ or, ‘Could you not have children of your own?’…why do they ask these questions ? We don’t know, people don’t often mean any harm and it’s a bit of a mystery why it still happens but we want to prepare you that it probably will happen at some stage and you may be surprised that the questions may come from people you didn’t expect.
No 6 – Resilience
Another great attribute for all parents, resilience. Being able to adapt well in the face of adversity and at times of stress isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s vital when you are looking to become a parent through adoption. Children who have had the early trauma of having to spend time in care really need parents with that ‘stickability’ factor, parents who just won’t give up on them during the challenging times. As mentioned above, our support services offer lots of workshops and training to develop your strategies and to build up resilience in our families. Adoption Matters will always be here to listen, support and help.
No. 7 – Being able to speak up (be THEIR voice)
You need to be a strong advocate for your child/ren. There is lots of support on offer and don’t be afraid of seeking out the very best for your child/ren. Your agency will also be key in this but ultimately, it’s down to you to be their voice.
No. 8 – Remembering the other relationships in your life
As with many of these tips, this isn’t exclusive to adoption. Parenting a child probably puts more of a strain on relationships with our partners and families than anything else.
It is most likely that each of you will be feeling different emotions at different stages and you must be able to listen and support the other without reservations or judgement. This can apply to our partners and our surrounding family and friends. Be open and honest and ask for help and support when you need it.
Talk to each other, talk to your family about their worries. We offer training and workshops for the whole family, as it’s not just you and your immediate family who need help and support, so remember to let your parents, siblings or even friends know what’s on offer to support them to support you!
No. 9 – Trust
Trust your adoption agency and your social worker. They want to find the very best family for a child or children and that is their utmost priority, but they will also have got to know you quite well throughout the 6 months assessment process and will know what you can and can’t do.
They will help guide you through the process to make sure that you can meet the needs of the children and that it’s right for you too. Here at Adoption Matters, we have been doing this for over 70 years and have one of the lowest adoption disruption rates in the country. Yes, disruption isn’t a nice word and it means that an adoption has ‘broken down’ or not worked. It does happen but thankfully, not very often.
No 10 – Sense of humour
As with all things child related, this is a great attribute. Not only does it make the playing, being silly, den making, lego building etc. etc. much more fun, but seeing the funny side of the destruction of your once tidy house, bank balance and sleep pattern is much easier with a good healthy sense of humour. Enjoy!
To download a no obligation adoption information pack, click here or call us on Freephone: 0300 123 1066.