When did you start the adoption process?
We submitted the application in October 2020. However, before submitting the application, we already had an informational meeting in August, where the basics were explained to us – how the process works, what kind of applicants they typically look for, and we were also given documents to fill out.
What were your first steps and how did the first meeting and the subsequent home visit go?
Totally fine I must say. We applied in Kolín and the first and second meetings were absolutely fine, as well as the home visit that followed a few weeks after. Certainly no one has to worry about them checking the cleanliness of your shelves or even your fridge. The purpose of the inspection is for OSPOD (Child Protective Services) staff to see that the child will have a proper place and that the housing is in reasonable condition.
In any case, the first thing to do is always contact the OSPOD in the nearest city where you live. In our case it was Kolín. They will invite you for the first conversation about what your expectations and wishes are and what kind of children are usually placed for adoption and how the process goes. This is followed by an official application, where you have to prove good health condition, sufficient income, and you have to agree that they will make a complete extract from the criminal record, in which, unlike the classic one from CzechPoint, possible past offences are listed.
How did the training and psychological assessment go?
Psychological assessment was provided at the regional office of the Central Bohemian Region, we had two visits to a psychologist, which is typical. I heard that someone had three meetings. The psychologist also made an assessment and the regional office invited us to professional training. There, our ideas, wishes and the reality were discussed again. Lectures were given by a pediatrician, a lawyer, and then a temporary foster parent and an adoptive mother who already finished the adoption process. After accomplishing the training, you just wait for your regional office to approve your application. If there was something they would like to disccus with us, they would have invited us for a meeting but that didn’t happen.
How long did the process of assessing your application take and when were you registered in the list of future adoptive parents?
Our appplication was approved in November 2021. One more thing that needs to be mentioned is that we are a same-sex couple. Legally, these couples are disadvantaged in not being able to adopt a child as a couple. Only one of the couple can become the official parent. However, the other goes through the entire process with the partner listed as the applicant.
How do you reflect back on this process? What did you gain and in what way was it difficult for you?
I can’t complain about any negative comments from the social workers, some were a bit colder but no one gave us the impression that being a same-sex couple was a problem. So maybe the hardest part is that we don’t have the same rights. Although we have to go through the process together, only I will have the parental rights to the child. My partner cannot be listed in the birth certificate. If our son gets sick or ill, my partner cannot stay home with him and take a sick leave from his work, or get any tax benefits, or go on a paternity leave (14 days off for the other partner; typically a hudband of new mom).
What were your ideas about the adopted child at the beginning, and how (if) did they change after having your application approved?
We wanted a baby under three years old, reasonably healthy. We had no definite ideas about the baby’s ethnicity, we wouldn’t mind twins, and we were quite tolerant of pathologies on the part of the biological parents. It is important to realize that if someone gives up their baby, they have reasons for it. Mostly multiple reasons. For example, homelessness, addictions, gambling, serving a sentence, disability or a combination of these.
How did you spend the waiting period and what was this period like for you?
We wanted to enjoy it together as much as possible. We knew there wouldn’t be much time for that and it really is like that. In our case, however, everything took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we could not, for example, take a multi-day vacation. However, we went on trips. It is also important to try to create some financial savings because it is much harder when the child arrives.
After what time did the regional office contact you with the information that you were matched with a child? How did the phone call go, what emotions surprised you and what thoughts did you have?
The “magic phone” (that’s what it’s called when an employee from the regional office calls to say you’ve been matched with a specific child) was pretty quick. I must say that we experienced some trouble with the Ústí Region. In May 2022, we were selected for a two-year-old boy from Ústí but then (after we started visiting him), the social workers found out that he was not suitable for adoption. Well, it was clearly the fault of the regional office. It was quite terrible when they informed us that nothing would come of it. The region had no idea that the little boy was in touch with his biological mother, which precludes adoption.
Fortunately, the magic phone rang again quite quickly after that, this time from our Central Bohemia region. And so we started getting to know our (then 7-month-old) son. Feelings? With the first call, we were really euphoric and started to look forward to it. With our son, it was an even bigger surprise that after what we had experienced, they contacted us so quickly.
How was your first meeting and how long did it take until you could take him home? How did you experience this period?
The first meeting took place at a non-profit organization which guides temporary foster parents. I have to say that it was so slightly impersonal. However, further contacts already took place at the temporary foster parent’s home, and our son quickly began to get used to us. After about 3 weeks, we filed a request for a preliminary injunction which would allow us to take him home within the next week. We brought him home on July 1, 2022.
What was accepting the new parental role like and how did you bond during the first months?
For children in foster care or adoption, you have to realize that they experienced trauma very early in their lives and often two separations from their primary caregiver (their mother and their temporary foster mother). Building a new connection to the child might be therefore slower. At the beginning, our son did not show much of his emotions. Now he’s showing too much. Which is good. It’s his way of dealing with the trauma.
Otherwise, however, our son is really incredibly clever. He sleeps at night, likes to learn new things, likes other children. He is a half-Roma child born to a drug-addicted mother, yet his development is normal. So maybe a message for others, don’t judge children based on what their parents are like.
How long did the entire adoption court process take until it was finalized?
A preliminary injunction was granted on July 1, 2022. A pre-adoption care followed in September. My partner and I, the temporary foster parent and the social worker of our child attended the hearing. Exactly on the day in 6 months, the final adoption court was held. The law says that pre-adoption care must last at least 6 months. The whole adoption process took 9 months, which is nice. Then all you have to do is wait for a new birth certificate.
Do you have any recommendations/advice for others who are thinking about adoption or foster care or are currently in the “waiting” period?
Don’t be afraid of it at all. The authorities and courts are already used to couples like us. Don’t get annoyed by the longer process or the fact that the law discriminates us a bit. Waiting for a miracle is probably not worth it, and even if you adopt a baby under the current conditions, I believe that later it will change to equality.
© Všechny fotografie byly použity z webové stránky Pexels.com a z archivu Střediska náhradní rodinné péče, spolek.