Our Thoughts on Re-Homing Children

Friends in Adoption Staff Shares Thoughts on Re-Homing Children

Those who follow adoption news may have read the recent Reuters Investigative Report that exposes the topic of “re-homing”young girl looking sad children who were adopted from other countries. The report focuses on a population of unprepared adoptive parents who have sought to place their adopted children in other U.S. homes via the Internet. The staff at Friends in Adoption, like many, read the horrific report with heartbreak, and we echo the sentiments of a thought-provoking blog post on the USAdopt blog entitled, “Children Are Not Disposable.”  The post shares this powerful statement: “Adopting a child is permanent. It is for life. They are yours forever.  Just as if you had given birth to them. They are your child! Are children difficult? Yes! Is raising children ever easy?  No! Adopting a child with special needs due to prior institutionalization, family trauma, cultural relocation, language barriers, behavioral or physical challenges requires a parent or parents who are willing to work with the child in ways above and beyond the needs of children who have not had these experiences or challenges.” Further, it discusses the need for ongoing education and preparation of adoptive parents.

When Friends in Adoption is faced with a child adopted internationally whose original adoptive parent(s) are looking to “re-home” him with a family through Friends in Adoption, in the spirit of USAdopt’s posting we must ask ourselves, “Do we believe that that Friends in Adoption adoptive family is educated appropriately and truly prepared for the adoption of that child?”  Hague home studies for international adoption require several hours of education and training that go well beyond the exhaustive home study.  Families receive certificates that make them attest to the fact that their eyes are “wide open” to the complicated issues of pre and post international adoption and the very real challenges inherent in those placements — challenges that are different from those of many families who have experienced a domestic infant placement.

Friends in Adoption Social Work Supervisor Kate Kaufman Burns, MSW, LCSW, shares her thoughts, below: “Friends in Adoption families are not routinely prepared for a ‘re-homing’ situation for the simple fact that Friends in Adoption has historically focused on domestic infant adoptions.  And, consequently, many of Friends in Adoption’s affiliated social workers use a domestic infant adoption clinical lens during the home study process for those families.  Friends in Adoption families are typically not prepared through the home study in the same way that a family traveling overseas or preparing for an international adoptive placement is prepared. As much as so many of the issues are the same — so many of the issues are also different.” Openness is not exhausted as a topic in an international adoption home study the way it would be with a domestic infant adoption.  Issues of early childhood trauma, institutionalization, abandonment and re-abandonment, attachment disorder / reactive ad/o — all of these very real and serious issues that have touched most children adopted internationally — aren’t covered the same way, if at all, in domestic infant adoption home studies.  The majority of our families — those who have no history of international adoption or international adoption home study / or have not been foster-certified – are not prepared to handle what a child who was 2 or 3 and adopted from Russia, for example, who is re-homed at the age of 4 or 5 will ultimately bring.

Kaufman Burns suggests that if Friends in Adoption as an agency would like to be a resource to these children — adopted internationally, then re-placed for adoption by their adoptive parent(s) — then we must put together a home study process that parallels an international home study process with proper and extensive education and mentoring as a pre-requisite to that child’s re-placement.  Otherwise, Friends in Adoption would not be doing this “re-abandoned child” (as USAdopt describes him) any real service, justice, or compassion.

Kaufman Burns further states, “Those who have done international home study work might want to look at the educational components and programs available to families and consider bringing these to Friends in Adoption so that we might offer families open to this kind of re-placement the relevant education and preparation and counseling they will need to make an informed decision.”

The waiting periods for adoptive families can be long and hard, and a child in need of permanence will pull at the heart strings of any family.  It’s Friends in Adoption’s job to make sure that they are pulling on the heart strings of the RIGHT family. Preparing and educating families properly and extensively is the first step to making it right.