Adoption provides an incredible opportunity to give a loving home to a child in need and to grow your family. But you are ready to take on this adventure, there can be a lot of hoops to jump through first. And on top of all the red tape, international adoptions often require a psychological evaluation for the adoptive parents. Here I outline the purpose of the evaluation and what you can expect in order to make the process easier and less anxiety provoking.
Why Do I Need This before I can Adopt?
The ultimate goal of the evaluation is to make sure that every child is matched with a home that will be warm and nurturing. Unfortunately, some adoptions have resulted in placements where children have been neglected or abused because parents did not have the capacity for appropriate care. The psychological evaluation is one way to screen parents to make sure that they are ready to take on the challenges of parenting for the first time or to add another member to their family. If mental health concerns are present in the family, the evaluation can help ensure that these concerns are caught early and that parents have the support they need to be successful.
The Process of the Adoption Evaluation
Pre-adoption evaluations usually consist of a clinical interview and one or more psychological tests that help determine mental health concerns. The clinical interview will be conducted both with the parents together and separately. The interview is a necessary part of the evaluation so that your psychologist understands your context and story when they interpret test results. This enables them to provide accurate feedback and give recommendations tailored to your needs.
Psychological tests may include the MMPI, which is a standard personality test, though other tests may be used instead of or in addition to the MMPI. The MMPI is a true/false questionnaire that will ask all kinds of questions, many of which seem irrelevant. It is designed to identify mental health concerns and will be interpreted by your psychologist to determine any issues that need to be addressed.
This is not a test for which you can study or prepare. All questions ask about your preferences and experience. Trying to decipher what the test questions could mean will only cause unnecessary anxiety and possibly unhelpful results. Do your best to give accurate and honest answers without worrying about what each question is getting after.
Results Help Your Adoption Succeed
After the interview and tests are completed, your psychologist will create a report that meets the requirements of the country from which you are planning to adopt. We may request written permission from you to speak with your adoption agency to make sure that we are meeting all requirements.
After the report is completed, your psychologist will schedule a follow up appointment to give you feedback on your results. This will include discussion of any concerns that may have come up and recommendations for what will help you be successful in your adoption. We want to make sure that you understand the information being provided and have time to ask any questions you may have about the results.
At Here, our psychologists understand that it can be stressful completing these evaluations. It may seem like just another “to-do” before you can be a blessing to a child. Our goal is to make this as stress-free as possible by letting you know up front what to expect. Our recommendations are created to help you be proactive in addressing needs that you may have now and anticipate any challenges. This support will help make your transition to welcoming a new child into your home a smoother experience.