Adoption introductions is a wonderful period where adoptive parents to-be finally get to meet their child. It should be enjoyed for what it is, but make no mistake, it is exhausting.
This is a guide to advise what happens during introductions and hopefully provides a few tips on how to make the most out of it.
Before that, let me stick a caveat in here – the process of introductions will be different for each set of carers, and child. The goal is the same, and the process centres on the same structure, but the detail will be tweaked – this post is about the structure, and how to prepare. My son was a toddler when he moved in, so that is the basis for the detail within this post.
The period of introductions usually lasts around 10 days, depending on the child’s age and circumstances. A younger child may need a shorter introductions process, an older child longer.
What is the aim of introductions?
The introductions period will be designed to phase out the foster carer being the primary carer, and phase in the waiting adopters, whilst ensuring the child is moved as carefully as is humanly possible.
The following is a typical timeline for introductions.
If everyone involved is organised enough, a rough introductions plan will have been drawn up before introductions start. However the first thing to happen will be the introductions planning meeting. This is where everyone involved in the placement (barring the child) will meet to confirm the introductions time table. Ours was held at the local authority’s offices. Those involved include:
- The waiting adopters;
- The waiting adopter’s social worker;
- The child’s foster carer;
- The child’s social worker;
- The agency team manager;
- Possibly an agency health worker.
Once this meeting has taken place, the adopters will meet their child.
The first time is almost certainly at the foster carer’s home. The waiting adopters will spend time with the child under the supervision of the foster carer. The meeting will probably be quite short – one or two hours.
Days two and three will be similar, however, more time is spent at the foster carer’s home, and a trip out may be scheduled. (I.e. A trip to the park.)
Top Tip: At this stage, get as much rest as possible, and take some vitamins as it is very emotional, and draining.
During this stage of the introductions, the waiting adopters will start to interact in the child’s routine, for example feeding, and nappy changing.
It is likely that a review meeting will also be held at this point. This is to ensure that each party is happy with the progress on introductions, and to discuss any tweaks, if needed.
Towards the last few days, the new parents will also take the child out of the foster carer’s home without the supervision of the foster carer.
Top Tip: Now is the time to ask the foster carer any questions you have, and clarify anything you are unsure about. Also – prepare photographs of the child in your home, so they are there when the child comes home with you for the first time.
The last few days are very exhausting for the waiting adopters. They will now start to care for the child for the majority of the day, the foster carer effectively distances him or herself from any care duties whilst the adopters are present.
The child will be looked after by the waiting adopters for the whole day, and on the penultimate day (if appropriate, and geographically manageable) the child will be taken back to the adopter’s home. They will be woken up by the adopter’s, fed, bathed, napped, and put to bed.
The final day is where the child moves in with their new family. The child will be picked up by the adopters and taken home – for good!
Top Tip: Don’t prepare a big day on moving day, and don’t expect too much from the foster carer. Whilst they are aware the child is going to a permanent home, it can still be very painful – be wary, and be sensitive.
That will be that. The introductions phase is a very tiring part of the adoption process; mentally and physically challenging. You can read about my experience here. If you are about to embark on introductions – I wish you the best of luck. By all means leave me a comment about your introductions experience below.