Can you believe it?? All those days/months/years of waiting and riding the wave of emotions and wondering if you would ever end up making this family officially permanent have actually come and GONE. Adoption day has been planned and executed and, much like a wedding, went by so quickly you are probably glad for cell phones that take great photos!
So … now what?
Well, post-adoption days sort of look a lot like pre-adoption days, minus the caseworker visits and the need to file a report with every bump and bruise. For some, this might mean it is a little easier; for others, it might also feel a little lonely and scary. There is no one always checking in, or assisting with doctor’s office issues, or attending IEP meetings and helping decipher all the legal terminology. Your caseworker isn’t on call when your child starts develop behavior issues or you find yourself at a loss with how to help them transition from “foster kid” to your son/daughter.
Good news- you are not alone!! People are still out there to help!
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are post-adoption services through SWAN (Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network). With a simple phone call, you can be set up with a caseworker through an affiliated agency who is there to help connect you to therapists, support groups (for you and your child!), financial assistance, and really just help with any questions you may have. It’s a great resource and can be called upon at any point in your post-adoption journey.
The county you adopted through is also a good place to go to for technical questions. Before you say your final goodbyes, I encourage you to ask who should be the contact person should something like insurance questions come up. Sometimes even calling the lawyer you worked with is helpful. We have found that no one really “quits” your case, and many are willing to at least point you in the right direction to get the help you need.
We also have stayed connected to our local KidsPeace office. The beauty of working with an agency like KidsPeace, and not just directly with the county, is that they continue to be a resource for us for literally anything. Though we do not have a caseworker assigned to us anymore, we make a simple phone call to the office and they provide us with the support and advice we need.
Adopting from foster care allows you to become deeply connected to the caseworkers working alongside the case for however long it takes to resolve it. Sometimes that means several caseworkers are involved and many professionals become invested in your family through the process. Adoption resources are out there, it’s just a matter of finding them. Contact your former caseworkers or your old agency, even if it’s been years! Adoption for some children can send their emotions and sense of security for a spin and, as your child grows, issues change. It’s important to know how to find the help you need.
Megan Craig is a foster parent in Doylestown, PA