Top 6 Things to Remember When Reviewing Child Files
By Beverly Clarke, PWNL Program Director
1. Remember that kids are more than their files. If anyone was to take every seemingly “bad” thing you had ever done & put it all into one document – minus the context of what was going on in your life at the time, very few people would seem like “good” people.
2. Be honest with yourself. Try to think carefully about your skills, strengths and weaknesses and be honest about your ability to meet the needs of the child you are considering. Many people talk about kids as being “bad” and very often it is not about a “bad” child, it is about an ill prepared or less than capable parent. Many kids that seem “bad” to one person prove to be the perfect son or daughter for someone else.
3. Talk to current care givers. This is a big one. If you have the opportunity, try to talk with the person that is currently taking care of the child to see what daily life with your child might look like. The day in and day out realities of living in the same home with a person can make all the difference in the world. If you find a child endearing or charming, the most difficult behaviors can seem manageable, whereas if a child’s daily habits are all of your trigger behaviors – even a relatively well behaved child can feel “un-manageable”. The caveat to this is that you need to filter all information received through your own lens. Some caretakers may find certain behaviors to be a much bigger deal than you would.
4. Look beyond the behaviors. Try your best to connect with the child’s history and their story. Behaviors are often just symptoms of a larger emotions that your child is learning to manage. Holding on to that reality will help you to parent “beyond the behavior”. Being in tune with the grief, trauma and sorrow your child has experienced will make you a much more compassionate and forgiving parent.
5. Assess your resources. Support is the key to successful parenting. When looking at the needs of a child, do a careful assessment of the resources you will need in order to make parenting as low-stress as possible. Will they need therapy, tutoring, child care? Will you have to have a backup plan for school suspensions or Summer care? Whatever the needs, do a careful assessment of the support systems you will need and do a COST analysis of those needs to be sure that you are going to be able to access support services as needed to help your child have a successful transition.
6. Be Realistic – Teenagers are teenagers. If you are looking at teen profiles, and don’t want to parent a child who is sometimes withdrawn, combative, verbally disagreeable, entitled, ungrateful, lies and has fights over rules and technology then chances are, this type of parenting is not for you. Talk to your (honest) friends who are parenting teenagers. They will tell you that (whether by adoption or through biology) parenting teenagers can be rewarding and wonderful in many ways but that there are some basic behavioral and parental struggles that just go with the territory.
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