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The homestudy report and family difficulties

Q: I haven’t spoken with anyone in my immediate family in over a year. Due to a family situation, breaking off contact was the best option at the time, but I’m worried that my lack of a relationship with any family members will negatively affect our impending homestudy report. Should I be concerned about this?

A: The homestudy is a document describing you and your family; it isn’t meant to judge you, your family members, or the decisions you have made. I recommend being truthful. The social worker will probably want to know how you arrived at the decision to cut off contact with your family, and will make sure you have considered the options and their possible impacts on your immediate family. You should think of the social worker as a resource in examining your decision. These aspects of your life should in no way interfere with your adopting a child.
—Ronny Diamond,
Adoption Resource Center
Spence-Chapin, New York City.

Transition to day care

Q: My husband and I adopted a toddler internationally six weeks ago. Although he seems to have bonded with us remarkably well, I am concerned that it is still too soon to enroll my son in day care, even on a part-time basis (20 hours a week). Do you have any recommendations?

A: Plenty of parents have no choice but to return to work fairly soon after an adoption. But remember, even if you are working, your child is clearly better off for having a family! Plan to spend most of your non-working hours with your child, putting other activities (volunteer work, some social events, etc.) on hold for a while.

Begin the transition period seven to 10 days before you have to spend the full day away. Start by introducing your child to the place/people who will be caring for her. Play there several times together, then start leaving for short intervals—half an hour, over lunch/nap time, then for an entire morning. Provide links to yourselves and to home—favorite blankie, pictures of parent(s), etc.—and work with your care provider to make sure that a consistent routine will be followed for drop-off times. Also, make sure the caregiver understands that this child’s transition needs may be greater than those of other children.
—Sarah Springer, M.D.,
International Adoption Health Services of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

Invasions of privacy

Q: We have emphasized that our kids should choose whether to share (or not) their adoptive status, but some of our friends don’t seem to get it and tell others. I’m disconcerted when complete strangers approach us to say, “Wow, your kids are adopted. Tell us about it.” What can I say to people who tell others about our adoption, and to those who have heard the story and ask us questions?

A: While the information about your children’s personal histories is private, the fact that you are an adoptive family isn’t. People talk, and you can’t stop them. Nor can you control what they say about your family. If the questions people are asking are innocent and well-intentioned, I’d advise you to “let it go” or treat it casually. You can always tell the questioner that adoption is wonderful, then change the subject.
—Ronny Diamond

Grandparent adoption

Q: I adopted my grandson eight years ago, and he has no idea that I’m his grandmother. As he gets older, I’m afraid someone else will tell him. Help!

A: You need to tell him now, before someone else does. He is old enough to hear it, and you need to unburden yourself from this secret. Tell him he was born to _______, who is your daughter, but that she couldn’t take care of him. (Emphasize that this was not because of anything that he did, but, rather, that she couldn’t take care of any child at the time.) So you both decided that you were the best person to raise him, because you are his grandmother and you already knew him and loved him.
—Susan Freivalds

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