Saturday, February 17, 2007

Step Three: Checking Out the Photolistings

I confess that I am a photolisting junkie and I admit that my husband and I decided to pursue older child adoption after our first evening of looking at pictures of darling children on internet photolistings. We fell in love with a couple of boys and when we inquired we found out we needed a homestudy. That was the beginning of our search.

The first principle to remember when dealing with photolistings is that they are more than just a matching tool. In fact, they probably fulfill a recruiting function to a greater extent than they do a matching function.

Secondly, regardless of how hard any one person tries, there are many children on photolistings who are no longer available. Often times the person who updates the website is two or three people away from the social worker with the child and so many things can happen to any of those people: medical leave, maternity leave, resignation, transfer, or just overwhelmed. The message that a family has been located may not go through the line of people and get to the person updating the website in a timely matter.

Third, the labels listed (mild, moderate, severe) are the opinion of one person. I have read thorough case files on children who I would rate as mild who are listed as severe and the other way around. There is no guarantee that those levels are a guarantee.

Children with no issues do not exist. There is not a child who has a history of abuse, neglect, and multiple moves that does not have any issues. The children who have "none" listed in every category may be stable right now, but they have issues.

And finally, a child who is mild now, won't be mild forever. An extremely small number of children adopted from the foster care make it through their entire lives without a few days, weeks, or months of "moderate" or "severe" behaviors.

So, photolistings are a great place to see the kinds of kids that are out there. If there are children that you are specifically drawn to, send your study. But don't be surprised if the child is no longer available or the level of care is inaccurate.

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