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The Basics of Adoption Practice
Series: Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2006|
3. Child Assessment
In adoptions involving children or youth adopted from the foster care system, an adoption worker may be able to conduct an assessment of the child. (This worker may be a different person from the worker who assesses the family.) Gathering and giving full consideration to all available information about the child allows the agency to make the most appropriate selection of a permanent family and enables a prospective parent to make an informed decision about accepting a child. Assessing the child should involve:
- Knowing the whereabouts and legal status of the child's siblings and the pros and cons for seeking an adoptive family who could keep the siblings together or reunite them if they have been temporarily separated from each other
- Developing an understanding of the child's history, including involvement with the child welfare system
- Assessing current functioning and needs
- Identifying potential future needs
- Recognizing the long-term impact of abuse, neglect, or sexual victimization on the child's development
- Evaluating strengths and limitations
- Assessing the desire or readiness for adoption
- Identifying the knowledge and skills that will be required to parent the child to adulthood effectively
- Identifying the extent of contact with birth relatives, including siblings (if they have not been placed together), and the level of openness that may be desired
- Developing a sense of the type of family in which the child will best live and thrive
Sources of assessment information may include official records, medical reports, and interviews with people who know the child, developmental and personal information, and the child's own interests. Older children and youth may be able to provide a great deal of information on their own interests, history, and resources within their family network.
Workers can learn more about obtaining background information on children through the Information Gateway factsheet Obtaining Background Information on Your Prospective Adopted Child.
For children assessed as not yet ready for adoption, specific activities can be used to involve and prepare them to join permanent families. Adoption workers or adoption-competent therapists may engage children in such activities as being photographed, preparing life books, and sorting out feelings. For many older youth, involving them in their own permanency planning can be key to overcoming their resistance to adoption.
For more information on preparation and transition activities, see the Information Gateway factsheet Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child.
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