By two Adopt4Life Community Members
When we began our adoption journey, we decided that we would become Adopt-Ready privately. That is, we were willing to pay for PRIDE Training and a private adoption practitioner to complete our SAFE Home Study. PRIDE Training cost around $1,500 and the SAFE Home Study was approximately $2,000—both costs are tax expenses the year our adoption becomes final.
There are benefits and drawbacks of going through the private system, especially when you know you’d like to adopt through a Children’s Aid Society (i.e. public system). In our case, we initially wanted to adopt a baby or toddler but throughout our PRIDE Training and SAFE Home Study, and by attending Adoption Resource Exchange Conferences, we became more and more wedded to the idea of adopting an older child. This was something we toyed with initially but, did not fully decide until near the end of our Home Study completion.
Usually in life, every benefit has an equal negative. Let’s review some pros and cons of becoming Adopt-Ready privately when you seek to adopt publicly.
Two-Pronged Approach vs. Tailored Information
One of the main benefits of undergoing your PRIDE Training and SAFE Home Study privately is that you have the option of adopting through the private and public streams. You do not have to decide before you are Adopt-Ready which gives you more time to learn about your skills and competencies to decide on the type of children that your family would be best for.
The tendency with a private SAFE Home Study is for your private adoption practitioner to focus more on the skills you’ll need to adopt a baby or very young child (0 to 3 years old). Getting a baby is often the reason prospective parents seek a private adoption.
On the public adoption side, while it is not our aim to discourage someone seeking a baby from doing it through a public adoption, if you speak to a local CAS you may not be very surprised to learn that the majority of youth in need of a home are often over 3 years old. Unless you are mindful when working on your “two-pronged” Home Study, you may significantly hurt your chances when you are seeking a update to your private Home-Study from your local Children’s Aid Society. Some societies won’t speak to prospective parents unless they are open to a child over 3 years old because this is where the need lies.
Therefore, it is important that you express to your private adoption practitioner your openness to adopting an older child—note an older child is often any child over the age of 3 years old. The Home-Study must be able to show that you can deal with issues that older children typically face through adoption. These include: attachment disorder, dealing with grief and trauma, and working with a child’s care team to help the child through developmental milestones. Meanwhile, you must also address the concerns of a private adoption licensee who is looking to place a child (0-3) privately with a family who can potentially have one parent at home and who understand the development needs of a baby and importance of attachment.
*Process Timeline: 1 + 2 May Not Always Be 3
The journey to your child(ren) may be faster through the private system. Your PRIDE Training can be completed in 4 days (consisting of two weekends and 27 hours of in-class training). A private practitioner, who is hired to complete your Home Study, is often available soon after your initial inquiry; whereas, you often wait 6 to 12 months for a CAS caseworker to be available to start working with you. Since public adoption caseworkers may wear different hats, and may be involved in apprehensions and creating safety plans for such children on a priority basis, this could be a lengthy waiting process.
We started our PRIDE Training in May 2017 and also began working with a private practitioner around the same time. Though it was not easy to meet all the requirements involved in the SAFE Home Study (one of our parents had to bring a birth certificate from a foreign country!), we became Adopt-Ready in early January 2018.
While we did become Adopt-Ready in 9 months (which may be half the time expected when working with a CAS), you should also note that when you are Adopt-Ready through a private practitioner and approach a Children’s Aid Society, there will most likely be a need for a caseworker to update your Home Study. That is, being Adopt Ready privately does not automatically mean you’re Adopt Ready publicly.
In some instances, and we may be in this situation now, when you approach a CAS to make an inquiry you may wait the typical 6 to 12 months for an update! Why? There is an order to working through the paperwork and some Children’s Aid Societies operate on a first-come, first-serve basis when doing intake of prospective parents regardless of the work they’ve done to become Adopt-Ready previously.
The key here is that if you plan to adopt publicly and wish to go through private PRIDE Training and work with a private adoption practitioner to complete your SAFE Home Study, you should inform your local CAS of your intentions to adopt publicly before you begin the process. Making an initial inquiry through your local CAS will not only put you in line but it also allows the CAS team to help inform you on what they need from your Home Study. This is a good way to bridge the gap between the private and public adoption routes and is a place where we made a significant error due to lack of insight into the process.
Your Adoption Training
While we absolutely loved our private PRIDE trainers and guest speakers, we did notice a disconnect between our intentions to adopt publicly and the main focus of the training. Our trainers gave excellent examples about public adoptions and considerations for those who wanted to work with a CAS; however, the vast majority of the prospective parents were interested in either private or international adoptions. This meant that questions were often out of scope for us, and although we cherished every second of the training, we now know that a more tailored PRIDE would’ve helped us in our public adoption.
Perhaps had we pursued PRIDE training through our local CAS, we would’ve had the opportunity to ask and hear others asking more tailored questions about public adoption. Though, we cannot say for certain and want to emphasize the high-quality training we received.
One further point, in terms of our training, is that we made connections with other prospective parents, which was great for community building. We, however, did not have the opportunity to make connections with our local CAS which meant starting fresh when we made our initial inquiry.
Although we would not change our training and the path we took, knowing now what we did not know then, we would have made an inquiry sooner with our local CAS. That seems to be our one big “Ah Ha!” moment, as covered in item #2 above.
In fact, it was our private PRIDE Trainer who gave us the sage advice to make sure our private adoption practitioner put in enough information in our Home Study to make us an appealing family for both private and public adoption, as covered in item #1 above. This was excellent advice!
So, why go through private PRIDE Training and Complete a SAFE Home Study Through A Private Practitioner When You’re Looking to Adopt Publicly?
We think the best answer to this is because you think it’s the best option for you. That is, you aren’t sure if you want to adopt privately or publicly. You are too anxious to wait for the initial process to begin with a CAS caseworker. Or, you have the means to do it and your local CAS has informed you that it would help them greatly by reducing workload on their staff. In the end, seeking private PRIDE Training and a SAFE Home Study does give you the right to change your mind and seek adoption privately without starting all over.
Best of luck with your journey no matter what you choose!