Let's Talk about Post Placement Reports

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Today I did something that has been on my “To Do” list for so long that I hardly notice it. Truth be told, I quit writing it on each new list because it made me feel sick to think about it. I won’t quite confess to how late our post placement reports were, but let’s just say, if it this a library fine, it would be large.

There are hard things brewing in the adoption world. The tragic death of Hana Williams, the article on disruptions/dissolutions, and other sad stories are winding their way through the internet. There is some negative sentiment toward adoptive parents, particularly those who struggle and stumble, and especially those who dissolve their adoptions. One of the criticisms I’ve read is that there is not enough oversight once children come home.

I don’t know if changes are going to develop, but I decided to get serious about the commitment I made to submit annual post placement reports. My attitude about them had soured over time. We adopted through two agencies. One had very laborious post-placement report expectations; they insisted these were legal requirements from Ethiopia. The other had a wonderful, streamlined process with far fewer hoops to jump through. This led us to believe (and rightly so) that our first agency (which no longer exists) was not being honest.

Secondly, I was afraid to write reports about the severe challenges we were experiencing. What would our agency think? What would a random official in Ethiopia who saw these reports think? It was all so hard and painful, and I was afraid.

I was still afraid when I sat down to write the reports, but in the end, it feels wonderful to have fulfilled this obligation. If our situation brings questions, so be it. It is better to have it all out in the light than to stay in the shadows and hope for the best.

Not only that, I get to cross this task off my “To Do” list for an entire year.

How about you? Have you kept up with your post placement reports? If not, what is the most difficult aspect of getting them done? Having only adopted from Ethiopia, I’m curious about the requirements of different countries. If you have children from multiple countries, do the requirements vary?

Let’s talk about it!

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

37 Comments

  1. Jessica Ward
    November 21, 2013

    Our agency has fines for late reports. I dread doing them every year, but I have a file on my computer where I keep them all and they are fairly cookie-cutter, I just update height/weight and activities. Now my daughter is getting older and starts helping me out by telling me the important things she'd like to include.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca
      November 21, 2013

      I do the same "boilerplate" sort of idea. I have to admit that I really enjoy pulling the last one up on my computer and making changes because it is a process that reminds me how far we've come. Right now, though, I have only a little one to do that on, so no really hard stuff. I've even decided since I am far more delinquent at things like baby books, I will try to do them on each of my kids and keep them as a sort of annual reminder of their progress. My template is on the professional side, but includes photos, so it's fun to go through and find my favorite photos from the year for each child. I hope I am able to keep them up for each child so they have them as a sort of keepsake and reminder of how much we like each one of them. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Luann Yarrow Doman
    November 21, 2013

    There is such a sense of satisfaction when you get to cross a hard thing off your To Do list. Good for you for getting it done!

    Reply
  3. Sue
    November 21, 2013

    We adopted from Kazakhstan 7 years ago. We've filed five reports. Then, The agency closed down and was corrupt – the country closed to adoptions – and we had no idea how to even submit one, even though they are required annually. We also have no idea if our reports made it there with our former agency being such a mess. So last year we didn't file one. Now, I have learned via facebook that I can send them to the embassy in Washington D.C., but I am unclear about translation requirements. We will attempt one.
    I have a list that it is on too!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 21, 2013

      Sue, I'm glad you've found a solution. I emailed our girls' agency to ask if we could submit our boys' reports to them since their agency is gone. I'm waiting to hear back.

      Reply
  4. Shannon
    November 21, 2013

    PLEASE, PLEASE, everyone keep doing them! Some foreign governments, though they may never actually read them, do want to keep track of every single child that exited their borders. We are in a 5 1/2 year battle to free our daughter from Kyrgyzstan and I can't tell how many times this has come up over the years. The Kyrgyz government has said that US adopted children were "missing" or "unaccounted for." Post-adoption reports are critical even though they are laborious and might seem intrusive. These reports are so important to keeping adoptions transparent, keeping communicaiton open and keeping it possible for children to find their forever families.

    Reply
    1. sarahmbwali
      November 22, 2013

      I agree that these reports are essential to keeping adoptions transparent and keeping communication open. If you choose to adopt internationally you HAVE TO be willing to abide by the laws of that country, that is the choice you make. Even though it might feel strange to think what a 'random official' makes of the reports, the governments of these countries give you their children to parent on condition that they still know how they're doing. And disclosing some of the hard things is the ONLY way for governments, agencies, parents to learn. It might not be a welcome thought but if a government finds the extent of the pain that intercountry, inter-racial adoption can cause, it might stop being the 'go to', or seemingly best option for thousands of children, when it rarely is.

      Reply
    2. Dee
      November 24, 2013

      APs promised in court to provide post placement reports — many, actually most, who adopted from Ukraine have NOT done so.

      Ukraines considering stopping adoptions by Americans as a result! I know several people whose Russian adoptions (this is before the ban imposed in 2012) were delayed or fell apart altogether because their adoption agency was put on the infamous Blacklist — bc APs who'd adopted Russian kids with that agency failed to submit post placement reports!).
      http://www.familyhelper.net/news/ukraine.html http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles.php?aid=

      Reply
  5. Jeannette
    November 21, 2013

    This is so timely because, theoretically, we are at the 4 year mark for bringing our son home (from Ethiopia). I did file post placement reports for the first 3 years. I think only the ones the case worker sent in and one of ours were received. Our agency had us send in 2 copies, presumably one for their files and one to get translated and be sent to the country. Now our agency is closed and I have no idea how to file them.

    Reply
  6. AmyE
    November 21, 2013

    Totally understand not wanting to report the negative stuff. I hesitate every year, and we're only in 3 years. But yes, I keep doing them. Our agency says that the birth family gets updates based on these, as well. And I love the idea of them getting pictures of him. Great job getting them done.

    Reply
    1. sarahmbwali
      November 22, 2013

      Wonderful to hear that the birth family receive updates too! I believe they absolutely have a right to know how their child is doing. The pain of not hearing must be worsened through the promises which are often made of regular updates, photos, even possible visits – which then don't materialise.

      Reply
  7. Janice Hilleary
    November 21, 2013

    In the world of adoption from foster care….nothing is required…or offered as far as support ….

    Reply
    1. angela
      November 21, 2013

      Isn't that the truth!

      The system sighed with relief and washed their hands clean….

      Reply
      1. Sarah
        November 24, 2013

        The more I learn about the American system of foster care and adoption the more broken the whole thing seems!

        Reply
  8. Alyssa
    November 21, 2013

    Interesting topic. We adopted through state foster care. Once our adoption finalized after 9 months there is no follow-up, but I wonder if it might be helpful to have something. Both to help those caseworkers who teach the classes at the beginning of the process and match children. As well as to inform families of resources available as their children grow and new needs become evident. I don't know if it would "flag" abusive situations because I wouldn't expect honesty from the parent.

    Reply
  9. Julie
    November 21, 2013

    No post placement reports were required for us. But kudos to you for checking it off your list! I think I'm going to send our very first therapist an email with a small update and picture because I bet she always wondered whatever happened to Cupcake. Also, our lawyer in Guatemala keeps up with us on facebook.

    Reply
  10. Donna
    November 21, 2013

    we also adopted from an agency that is no longer. We have not done post placement reports for many years because I have no where to send them.

    Reply
  11. Lori
    November 21, 2013

    We adopted from India two separate times (three children) and the requirements were different with each one. I don't know if the government changed their requirements, but I also think it has to do with the agency. We did agree with our last adoption that we would send a periodic report straight to the orphanage because they wanted to see how our son was doing and watch him grow up. (They had him from birth to 6 1/2 y/o.) I was thrilled that they would want that contact. I send photos and a brief report of what is going on with him – emphasizing the positive.

    As I was typing I do remember that our official paperwork from India said different things both times. And, it seems I remember conversations with people who adopted from India about the same time who had different requirements in their paperwork. Once final adoption was completed here we were not required (by India) to do any other post placement reports, however, we complied with what our agency required.

    I do agree that as things became difficult I wasn't sure how much to share. I ended up being a bit vague and saying that we were seeking help for our troubles – which we were.

    Reply
  12. Kate Sumpter
    November 21, 2013

    There is no requirement from our domestic agency for post placement after the initial state requirements are met and the legal side of the adoption is complete. However, I would encourage you, Lisa, to write down a report especially if it's just for yourself. You will remember these years are hard and busy, but in 25 years from now it will be a joy to remember all the various moments that were conquered.

    Reply
  13. Rebecca
    November 21, 2013

    We adopted from Kazakhstan 6 years ago. Our agency is still around. I feel strongly committed to filing the reports each year, for the reasons some folks mention — to help keep or get adoptions flowing. But I don't at all feel like I have to tell the "truth." I write bland, general things — "he enjoys playing with his friends" — and leave it at that. My form doesn't have nitty-gritty questions. But even if it did, I don't think I'd answer truthfully and fully. My son is entitled to some privacy.

    Reply
  14. sleepyknitter
    November 21, 2013

    We have adopted four times and have done all the post placement requirements. For the most recent one, we did it under significant stress — we had just come out of a year of unemployment and had been living off my retirement, and finances were/are painfully tight; our placement agency had folded; we had moved to a new state (that was the biggest issue); and we had a couple other significant stressors involved, making it very difficult to find an agency to work with us. It was hugely tempting to just not do the post placement. But we are concerned about the well-being of the adoption world in general and were aware of the Reuters report and other current issues going on with adoption, and we felt it was a matter of "good citizenship," so to speak, to pay for this expensive report to assure China that all four children who have been a part of our family are thriving.

    Reply
  15. Sharon
    November 21, 2013

    I know everyone doesn't think they are important, but I said I would complete the reports, so I do. We adopted through two different agencies and their requirements seem pretty similar, though I do appreciate that one of our agencies sends out a reminder email when it's getting close to the due date.

    Reply
  16. Nancy
    November 21, 2013

    We have adopted twice from Korea and once from the Philippines. Both countries require 3 reports and pictures within the first 6 months the child is home. You must complete these to get the documents you need to finalize the adoption. With both countries, the children come home under your guardianship. They are not legally your children. (This is changing with Korea). So the big motivator here is finalization=adoption tax credit! 🙂 After 6 months, there are no other reports required. I do think, especially with older child adoption, in the first 6 months, you may still be in the "honeymoon" phase and not fully know what challenges you child has.

    Reply
  17. dorothy
    November 21, 2013

    Oh my ….the bane of my existence. 8 adoptions…post placement reports annually until three are 18 and for five years on the others. It's so hard to write and tell the truth…and even worse to write and leave the hard things out. Great job getting it done – I have two to do in December and will fight the same internal battle for both. LOVE YOU!

    Reply
  18. Karen Twombly
    November 21, 2013

    Adopting from Nicaragua, you have to have a post placement visit from a social worker every year until the child is 19 years old!!! Crazy right? We just had our first one. Even the social worker was questioning if Nicaragua would hold us to such a crazy and expensive (sib group of 4 so big ole fee) requirement. But I guess we have a friendly visit and then the social worker gets to write up the paperwork!! 😉 She asked questions like: What are your fav American foods? What are your favorite things to play? She asked the first born of sib group if she liked having an older brother (3 kids were already in our fam, all older).

    Reply
  19. Margaret
    November 21, 2013

    Lisa, our children are from Ethiopia through AAI, one home 11 years, the other 5 this January. Fortunately, they came close to the same time so I always write them around the same time as Christmas cards. And it seems to me that AAI recently suggested that they be more bland and less in detail about difficult stuff, so I keep them pretty basic, use the formula I used the first year…physical, school, family, church and community, Ethiopian ties. I try to send some letter or photos to birth families at this time too but addresses are hard to keep for these folks…I wish I could be sure they would hear from me? I don't know if AAI gets all the reports where they need to go in ET, but I feel like the commitment to write the letters was for my children, their families, Ethiopia generally and other adoptive families, so I do it? Mostly we have been blessed with feeling like things are moving in a good direction. When things are not so good, writing the letters is one more moment to grieve about how difficult things can be for our kids, so you have my sympathy and appreciation for writing yours.

    Reply
    1. Sarah
      November 25, 2013

      Wasn't AAI the agency who placed Hana and Immanuel Williams? If so, I'm shocked that they're asking for bland reports that leave out difficulties, after Hana's murder at the hands of her adoptive parents.

      I love that you include letters and photos to the birth family! I do hope AAI gets your letters to them. I'm happy for you and your family that things are going positively, blessings to you all!

      Reply
  20. Dana
    November 21, 2013

    Lisa, Are you going to write anything about Hana Williams' death? I want write something, but it is so emotional and overwhelming for me.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 21, 2013

      I've thought about it Dana, but it is so close to home. Hana was adopted through our agency and was at an orphanage where some of our friends' children also lived. She lived in WA state, which is where we are originally from. It is so heartbreaking; I grieve for everyone in that family. During the trial I couldn't stop reading the news reports. I was once given a copy of the book that, tragically, led her parents down an abusive road resulting in her death. I tossed that book years ago, but I can still picture it and I'm so thankful that we weren't held captive by it. So many people have already written about Hana's death, or at least it seems so to me, I'm not sure I have anything of value to add.

      Reply
      1. sarahmbwali
        November 23, 2013

        I for one would like to read what you think / feel about such a tragedy, Lisa! You have a beautiful way with words and often make perceptive and insightful observations. And I also think the more we talk about and engage with what went on the more powerful we make Hana's legacy and the better we can protect adopted children and better support adoptive parents (though the cruel and inhumane treatment meted out by Hana's adoptive parents certainly can't be attributed to just a lack of support). Maureen Evans at http://lightofdaystories.com/ covered the case extensively and is also an adoptive mother to two Ethiopian children. I definitely recommend her blog! 🙂

        Reply
  21. Anita
    November 21, 2013

    We adopted from Ethiopia and find great joy in sending our post placement reports. We imagine what it must feel like to have relinquished a child not knowing what their life might be like and imagine birth family finding the report and seeing how our son has grown. Our overall message is always that our son is growing, happy, healthy, and loved. We also like to add how we are continuing to honor Ethiopia because we want him to know and love where he has come from. We have no idea if anyone reads his reports, but if they do, we hope the information we share brings them comfort.

    Reply
  22. Debbie Vaters Lister
    November 22, 2013

    Can you tell me who wrote the article on disruptions and dissolutions, I would like to read it. I also struggle with the post adoption reports, I try to include some positive and some of the struggles to keep some integrity in the report. I am often late, but get it done.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 22, 2013

      Debbie, the series of articles was published online by Reuters. I think if you google a little, you will find them.

      Reply
      1. sarahmbwali
        November 23, 2013

        Hi Debbie, the report is called 'The Child Exchange' and comes in 5 parts – this is the link to the 1st, and I definitely recommend reading them all, though it makes for very upsetting reading:
        http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption/#art

        Reply
  23. Paula Miles Spears
    November 24, 2013

    I have sent every single one of ours for our three Ethiopian adopted children. Sometimes, they are a month late, but they have all been dutifully sent. If your agency is out of business and they didn't provide information on what to do with your reports, you can (for Ethiopia) send them directly to MOYCA. Here is a website that has an email address and other contact information:

    http://www.gcao.gov.et/index.php?option=com_qcont

    For anyone who just decides not to do them because they have decided adoption is corrupt, the agency isn't sending them, the ministry doesn't take them to the families or whatever, I offer this: what if you gave up a beloved child for international adoption and were told that at the very least, one brief little report with four or five pictures would be submitted every year and that you could go to your local MOYCA office or the orphanage and see this report. What if you went, and it wasn't there? What if the reason it wasn't there was because the American family that adopted your child just didn't want to do the report… for WHATEVER reason. How would you feel as the relinquishing family? For me, I never want the reason that the report wasn't there to be on my conscience. If other involved agencies/parties don't do their part, that makes me angry. But we will continue to do ours; out of gratitude for the birth family. What goes into the report doesn't have to be that specific… they just want to know that their child is healthy and loved and see the child's face. Please, please, please parents… do the reports. It's such a small thing that could mean the world to someone important in your child's life.

    Reply
    1. Sarah
      November 26, 2013

      Amen, amen and amen!

      Reply
  24. Tammy Smith
    June 12, 2015

    As a mother of 5 adopted children,our 2 oldest daughters come form China,which has no post placement reports until they are 18 years old.And our 3 Ethiopian children[2 sons and a daughter].I have observed something that I don't think many adoptive parents are talking about,whether out of fear they will lose their children for doing so,or embarrassment at the thought….I have noticed that I feel different towards my relationship with my children from Ethiopia,then I do with my children from China.I know why and it wouldn't please the Ethiopian government very much.Our daughters from China are ours! We don't have to 'report back' to Chinese government.But with Ethiopia,every year we get a call from our 'agency' and then more reminders what Ethiopia wants in our report. I feel more like my children from Ethiopia are foster care children,than my very own children.This has made it difficult to bond with them.I believe they have bonded with me,but I have had a harder time and I really believe this is the reason why. The reports are so 'business like' and as for paving the way for other prospective adoptive couples to Ethiopia,since we've been back with our 2 sons,adoption to Ethiopian children under the age of 7 has stopped,it's a 4-6 year wait list and the money has doubled.We were told by our agency that the reports would help keep Ethiopian adoption open.2003,there were 165 adoptions from Ethiopia.2010=2511 adoptions,2011=1732,2012=1567,2013=993[this was the year we received our sons,it was a 3 year wait] 2014=716[only 28 to the U.S.] These numbers are telling us something.We cannot deny that the Ethiopian government doesn't honor the same contracts we do.For that,I feel such sadness for families who want to help children and add to their families.These reports are not helping,the numbers don't lie.And I want to get on with our lives as a family instead of wondering throughout the year,if I will pass muster in the photos I send to strangers and all my children's lists of hobbies,foods they like,school reports.I'm just beginning to rethink these reports.

    Reply

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