1) GAIN CHILD CARE EXPERIENCE
Prior to and during the adoption process, first-hand experience of child care is a must. When possible this should go beyond looking after children within the immediate family or friends and include nurseries, pre-schools or toddler groups. Advice and support from childcare experts is valuable and these connections could prove extremely helpful as an extension to your support network (for example, your adoptive children attending the nursery where you volunteered).
2) WAIT OUT THE WAITING GAME
Adopting can take a while -- sometimes, longer than you expected. Keep yourself busy by doing all the things you won't have time to do once your new baby or child comes home.
Louise Casey, a social worker, says, "Empty the job jar, and go on that vacation." Get your home as ready as you can. For example, stock the pantry and medicine cabinet. That will certainly come in handy once you bring your new child home.
3) FIND PROFESSIONALS AGENCIES, ATTORNEYS AND OTHER ADOPTION EXPERTS IN YOUR AREA.
Attend informational meetings held by public and private agencies. Ask for brochures and handouts. Talk with social workers, attorneys, facilitators, agency representatives. Screen any agency or attorney you think you might use. Check references.
4) BE HONEST
With yourselves, the workers and any other person you meet along the way. Being confident to share how you feel about your adoption journey will always enhance your skills as a prospective parent as well as reinforce your status within the process. Honesty in adoption is perceived as strength and not as a weakness.
5) FIND OUT WHAT YOUR CHILD LIFE WAS LIKE
If your adopted child is not a new born, he or she has had a life before you. Talk to foster parents, orphanage directors, or even your child's birth parents to learn what that life has been like.
Debra Harder, adoption information coordinator with Children's Home Society and Family Services, says, "You want to learn what your child's routines are, how he might have been soothed, how he likes to be held, his favourite toys and games."
She adds, "If you have the opportunity to meet your baby's or child's caregivers, this is a great opportunity to learn first-hand what he's used to so you can help him feel more comfortable in your home with familiar routines."
If you're adopting internationally or bringing home a baby from a state other than your own, it's likely that you'll have to travel and spend at least a week in your child's home state or country. That can be frustrating because you want to get home and start your new life together. But look at it as a great opportunity to build attachment between you and your new child.
"This is precious time," Harder says. "You can get to know each other and bond one on one. You have time when you don't have to share your child with anyone else -- it's just you together as a new family."
6) TRUST THE ADOPTION TEAM
There is a wealth of expertise in Kent and no shortcut or decision will be taken if it is going to compromise your potential as an adopter. They have your best interest at heart. It is particularly key that you develop a strong relationship with your social worker and when the time comes, with the foster parent.
7) COMPLETE A HOME STUDY
Gather multiple notarized copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical exams, financial statements (including the last three years' tax returns, photographs of you and your home, a written autobiography, employment records, criminal clearance documents, fingerprints, three letters of reference, a report on your home with deed, and (possibly) a psychological evaluation, and, in international adoptions, INS documents, passports, and copies of State Department laws in English and in the language of the country you have chosen to adopt from. Prepare for an interview by a social worker or agency.
8) GIVE IT TIME
By all means be proactive in finding ways forward, whatever the challenge you are facing. However, always allow yourself the time required for things to fall into place.