Domestic Assessment or Home Study.
What is a Domestic Assessment or Home Study?
An assessment is an opportunity to discuss adoption and what it means to you. It is designed to help you learn and think about what you have to offer a child in need of an adoptive home. It facilitates you to identify your own strengths and skills which will help you to care for an adopted child. In domestic adoption some children may have a pre- birth or genetic history which is of concern and you will have to decide if you could parent a child under these circumstances.
It is also important that you feel you have the confidence to parent a child who has experienced the loss of their birth parents, and who may continue to have contact with them as they grow up.
Interviews are conducted in your home and/or at our offices. If you already are a parent we will also want to meet with your children where this is appropriate. Your social worker will decide suitable times and dates with you. This may require that you take some time off work. A letter can be written to your employer giving details of the interviews you are required to attend so that you do not have to take these days as annual leave.
As with Intercountry adoption, interviews will cover a number of topics which will impact on your suitability to become an adopted parent. For example we will explore your own childhood experiences and how these have influenced you. As many of our early experiences affect how we respond to situations as adults we will reflect on these with you and how they may impact on your parenting and the additional demands of an adopted child. We will also discuss with you and your partner how you relate to one another and how you resolve difficulties when they arise. If you are a sole applicant we will explore your significant relationships and the support networks in your life. The interviews will also look at why you have decided that adoption is right for you at this time.
Other important areas that will be explored with you will include the complex range of issues associated with domestic adoption, such as identity development and the importance of the family of origin. Adopted children have a need to know about their origins and need to be encouraged to ask questions and helped to understand difficult issues. With most domestic adoptions there is now some degree of openness. You will be asked for your views on open adoption and whether you would be prepared to consider some level of ongoing contact. Open adoption is widely acknowledged as being very positive for adopted children and can take a number of forms. Birth parents are encouraged to send regular updates, including photographs, to our office which are then forwarded to the adoptive parents. We also encourage adopters to write letters and exchange information about their child and their progress. One or two face to face meetings may also take place each year between the child, birth parents and adoptive parents. Initially these are supervised by a social worker from our office but as time goes on there may no longer be any need for a social worker to be present. In some situations members of the extended family may continue to be involved. Some of these arrangements can change over time and may not be long term.
Children placed for domestic adoption are generally babies up to 12 months and have lived in foster care since birth. It is important that you understand the need to carefully plan the baby’s transition to your home. You will be asked to think about how you might handle this so he/she experiences the minimum of upset.
These children will have a range of different backgrounds and health needs. They often have short term health issues which require medical intervention. Occasionally a child will have an intellectual or physical disability and will need long term medical services and emotional support. There is the possibility that there will be long term effects on the child if there has been substance abuse during pregnancy such as alcohol or if the birth parents have had serious mental health issues. We will ask you to research these and we will discuss them with you so that it can be decided which children you would be in the best position to parent. Pact has a small library of books and resources which you may find useful and you are encouraged to access these.
Should you wish to be considered for a child who will have long term difficulties you will need to research the services and supports that are available to you and how they can be accessed. Some of these services are only available privately and you will have to be able to finance them if they are needed.
What happens Next?
When your assessment has been completed your social worker will write a report. This is discussed with the Principal Social worker of Pact before a recommendation is made about your eligibility and suitability.
Your report is then forwarded to a Local Adoption Committee (LAC) of Tusla Child and Family Agency which considers it and also makes a recommendation. An application form, along with your assessment report and supporting documentation are then submitted to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI). Your documentation is reviewed by the administration team and your assessment by the Social work team at the AAI and, if satisfactory, a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability to Adopt is granted.
For further information on Declarations of Eligibility and Suitability and on matching please refer to www.aai.gov.ie.