Often times, families who adopt a child may do so because they “recently met a birth mother through a ‘friend of a friend.’” The family will then get with their attorney to finalize the adoption. The attorney will then tell the family they need a home study completed. That’s when I get a phone call. In the process of explaining about the home study, I explain the process of a birth parent interview. I often gets looks of confusion from the adoptive parents when I explain the need for the birth parent interview. It has been asked, “ Is this needed or required on many occasions?” Sometimes I get the question, “You are saying I need to pay you to go ask the birth mother questions?” I have known adoptive couples to be reluctant to allow me to talk to the birth mother. Some people have worried the birth parents might “change their minds.” Adoptive couples even worry about how birth parents might react to this interview process or if they will be reluctant to the interviews all together. Most of these fears are derived from an inaccurate perception and understanding of the birth parent interview process. The birth parent interview allows the adoptive family the opportunity to know more about their child they are adopting and the hereditary (bio-psycho-social) nature from which their child was born. This also allows the birth mother a “piece of mind” and understanding about the whole process. Through a birth parent interview, the social worker is able to answer the birth parents’ questions about hospital planning, pre/post-birth interaction with the adoptive couple and other factors related to the adoption. Oh, and if that’s not enough, it’s part of Alabama Law (http://www.legislature.state.al.us/codeofAlabama/1975/26-10A-31.htm)
The adoptive parents begin to understand the value of the birth parent interview when the social worker informs them their child comes from a family who is prone to heart disease or that diabetes is prevalent within their child’s immediate biological family. In this section, I feel I should disclose I am an adoptive parent. I will say it’s often hard to not be able to complete medical questionnaires at my son’s pediatrician’s office due to a minimal knowledge about his birth family. I would love to know questions like, “ has my son had chicken pox during the previous five years before he came to live with us” or “does his biological family have a history of cancer?” These questions cannot be determined without a good solid birth parent interview completed by an adoption agency or a licensed social worker. I have had families make an entire decision about whether to proceed with an adoption soley based on information determined in my birth parent interview. It is that important, and often times that helpful to adoptive parents.
The birth parent interview is also helpful to the birth mother. After all, she and/or the birth father are the ones placing their child for adoption. Shouldn’t they be allowed to know about the details concerning the adoption and be able to discuss with the social worker about questions they have? My message to all adoptive couples is this, “when good dialogue happens between the social worker and the birth parents, the adoptive process has a much better chance of running smoothly.” I have found that this interview process really helps take out the apprehension and anxiety surrounding the adoption process.
Finally, according to Alabama Code 26-10A-31 the social worker assigned to “investigate the adoption” is asked to submit a summary of identifying and non-identifying information to the Alabama State Department of Human Resources Office of Permanency. This information is held for approximately 75 years and is made available to adult adoptees if requested. Many times adult adoptees want to know information on their birth family. Adoptive families may forget this information about their child’s birth family or they may not have access to this information due to various circumstances. There are many reasons why a good birth parent interview is often beneficial to the child being adopted. I always take this part of the job seriously and try to draft the summary reports as if the adoptee is reading this information years later. It is that important…..
If you still have questions about this process, just call me. (205) 535-2161