I want to clarify that I am writing this article based on experiences of a domestic or foster care adoption first visit with a child. I will seek out helpful tips and information for those visiting with a child through an international adoption.
As prospective adoptive parents, meeting the child with whom you have been recently matched is both exciting and intimidating. You may be worried that the child may not like you, but just think if you are nervous, imagine how the child is feeling.
Most new adoptive parents will want to know what to expect of the child's behaviors, the amount of information about the child, and the location of the visit. Here are a few thoughts.
What to Expect from the Child's Behaviors
It is difficult to say how a child will react to such a meeting. Some children are more outgoing than others. Don’t be surprised if you see both extremes. Some children may be shy and skittish when meeting new people. Other children may be overly friendly, giving lots of hugs.
Some children may not be told the purpose of the meeting. This largely depends on the social worker, the agency’s policy, and if you are allowed to meet the child before officially being matched.
If the child is told the purpose of the meeting, that you may be their new forever family, some children may react in a hyperactive, nervous way hoping to impress you. Keep all of this in mind when first meeting a child.
If possible, try to meet the child before being officially matched. If that is not allowed, it may seem very awkward to most hopeful adoptive parents.
What to Expect in Terms of Information
Once matched -meaning you have agreed to adopt the child - you should be allowed to read the child's file. This may be very difficult, making such a huge decision before meeting the child.
Try to gain as much information as possible to help with your concerns. Read the child’s file carefully and make notes along the way of important information.
Read the child’s profile, the short blurb that is included on the website. See not only what is plainly written, but what’s being hinted too in the child's profile. Use the information to formulate more questions to gain a clearer picture of the child and his needs.
What to Expect in the Location of the First Meeting
The first meeting could be located in an adoptive agency’s conference room. It will be up to you as the prospective adoptive parents to provide activities and snacks. It would be better to first meet at a park, but due to weather and location, that may not always be an option.
Try to bring plenty of options for activities. Consider things you can do together with the child and brings about the need for interaction and conversation.
- Coloring books and crayons,
- Board games
- Avoid options that take away from interacting with each other, like movies or most video games.
Ask the child's social worker or foster parent for suggestions on what the child likes.
Don’t forget snacks too. Ask the worker or foster parent about any possible food allergies.
Hopefully being prepared for the first meeting with your matched child will help alleviate some nerves. However, it is normal to be nervous. This is a big step for the child and your whole family.
Now comes the hard part - deciding if this child is the best adoption match for your home and family.
- How to Know When an Adoption Match Is Right for Your Family
- How to Know When a Child Is Not a Good Adoption Match for Your Family