By the time you get to take your new child home, you will likely be excited and relieved to finally be finished with the adoption process. However, your adoption journey is not truly over until you satisfy the necessary post-placement requirements.
Between an adoptive placement and the finalization of your adoption, you will be required to complete post-placement visits according to your state’s adoption laws. Below, learn more about post-placement requirements and what to expect during post-placement visits.
What is a Post-Placement Visit?
Following an adoption placement, adoptive families will undergo a post-placement supervision period, during which time a social worker will make visits to the adoptive home and develop a report detailing the child’s and parents’ adjustment to the placement.
These visits are usually conducted by your home study provider and are very similar to the home study visits you completed prior to adopting. Your social worker will observe you and your child and discuss a variety of topics, from developmental milestones to pediatrician visits. The primary purpose of the post-placement visit is to ensure the adoptive placement is a good fit for the adoptive parents and the child and that everyone’s needs are being met.
What to Expect During Your Post-Placement Visit
Adoptive families often choose to work with their home study providers to perform the necessary post-placement visits. The social worker who completed your home study is already familiar with your home and family, which can simplify the post-placement study and make it easy to determine how the new child and other family members are responding to each other.
The exact requirements, process and number of post-placement visits you will need to complete will vary based on your state’s laws, but an average of three post-placement visits is usually required. You will be required to comply with all post-placement laws and requirements for the state where your adoption will be finalized, not necessarily where you live. The type of adoption you have completed (domestic, foster care, international, etc.) and the licensing agency you work with may also impact your post-placement visit requirements.
In domestic adoptions, post-placement visits usually begin two to four weeks after placement, and some form of contact (whether in-home visits or telephone calls) is usually required at least once per month.
Just as state laws impact post-placement requirements for domestic adoptions, the country from which you adopt also plays a role in post-placement requirements. In international adoption, the first post-placement visit will usually occur sometime between the first and sixth month of the family arriving home with the child. Some states require adoptive families to “readopt,” or finalize the adoption according to state laws as well as the laws for the country in which the child was born. The readoption process may involve additional post-placement visits and requirements.
Aside from the in-home visits and any other contact required by state laws, the only additional post-placement requirement may be to provide certain documentation. In most cases, you will only need to provide your child’s post-placement checkup information and medical records; however, you may want to reach out to your social worker to find out if any other documentation is needed for finalization.
Your adoption professional will help you understand the post-placement requirements, process and costs based on your state’s laws and your individual circumstances. Additional information about state post-placement adoption requirements and international adoption finalization may be found on our state adoption pages.
Once the visits have been completed and all post-placement requirements have been met, the social worker’s report will be reviewed as part of the finalization process, and you will be one step closer to officially being a family.
Tips for Successful Post-Placement Visits
Some adoptive families become nervous when it is time to complete the post-placement study. However, much like the pre-placement home study, these visits are not designed to scrutinize parents. Instead, they simply evaluate how all members of the family are responding to the placement and provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions and ensure they have all the resources and services they need.
If you are concerned about meeting post-placement requirements, here are some suggestions for ensuring successful visits with your social worker:
- Answer questions honestly. Your social worker will likely ask you about your child’s growth and development, as well as any concerns you may have. If there are areas in which you are struggling, it is okay to let your social worker know. He or she will be able to help you address any challenges you are facing and find any additional services or resources you need.
- Think back to your home study. At this point in the adoption process, you have already successfully completed the home study — which means a social worker has already determined that your home is safe and suitable for a child. When in doubt, try to maintain the same level of safety and tidiness as you did for your approved home study.
- Think of questions you would like to ask. Especially as first-time parents, it can be difficult to know if you are doing the “right” thing or if your child is behaving and developing “normally.” Your social worker can likely answer many of your questions and shed light on some of the unique joys and challenges of adoptive parenting.
- Ask yourself whether your child’s needs are being met. If the answer is yes, and if you are developing a loving bond with your child, then you likely have nothing else to worry about.
For eager adoptive parents, post-placement study requirements may seem like an unwelcomed obstacle in the midst of adjusting to life with your new child. However, the post-placement supervision period is the home stretch that puts you well on your way to finalization.