by Lauren Rudzis, Development & Communications Coordinator
Choosing to adopt is a big step for anyone, but even thinking about the process of adoption can be a daunting task. Prospective parents might be turned off by the sheer landslide of information available. There are numerous complicated steps to gain legal approval and suitability–not to mention the emotional factors of welcoming a child into your life.
I had a chance to sit down with Laura Kulick, LCSW, Jewish Family Service (JFS) Social Worker and Adoption Support Services Manager, to get some insight on how JFS can help prospective parents. JFS offers three adoption support services: Home Studies, Post-Placement Reports, and Adoption Support Groups. These services are available to everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
Nationally, adoption agencies require a Home Study to be submitted by a licensed clinical social worker. Home studies determine whether or not the adoption agency should move forward in the adoption process, based on the suitability of the prospective parent and the household in which the child will be living. Home studies require 5-6 sessions with the adoption applicant(s) plus a home inspection. The social worker will then submit an official legal document with a recommendation to the adoption agency on whether or not the organization should move forward with the adoption process. “The important thing about this process is that each JFS home study session is tailored to the prospective parent or parents,” Laura added, “No two experiences are alike, just as no two couples are alike. During the sessions, we take the time to get to know the adoption applicants and see how we can support them through this process in their own unique individualized way.”
A Post-Placement Report is similar to the Home Study, but occurs one month after the adoption. “Again, the report is done by a licensed clinical social worker, but is submitted to the court, who will then finalize the adoption,” said Laura. In collecting data for the report, the social worker does a follow-up interview with the parents. “The adoption only becomes 100% official after the court’s stamp of approval,” Laura added.
This is a lot to think about right? That’s where the JFS Adoption Support Group can help. Laura posits that no matter where someone might be in the adoption process, speaking with other families or individuals that are early, mid, or late stage in the process can be beneficial. She said, “The Adoption Support Group offered at JFS can help by allowing prospective applicants and adoptive parents connect on their shared experience. Those going through the process can discuss and pool resources with those couples or individuals who have already been through it themselves. Ultimately this creates a wholesome and empathetic support system.”
Looking to get some information yourself? Curious about what adoption entails? On August 30th, JFS will host a free event on the adoption process, Adoption 101. The event will be held at the Uptown Jewish Community Center (5342 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70115), from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Adoption 101 features an incredible panel of speakers from different areas of adoption services: panel moderator Debbie Regan, RNC, Director of Nursing at Audubon Fertility; Courtney Schroeder, JD, Adoption Attorney at Widmer & Schroeder; Laney French, adoptive parent; and more. Laura, who will also be a part of the panel to offer a Social Worker perspective, said “This is a wonderful way for families and parents going through the process to ask questions. Prospective parents may want to know more about the legal side of adoption or maybe even understand the emotional process through an adoptive parent and adoptee perspective.”
To register for the Adoption 101 panel, call Laura at (504) 831-8475 ext. 155 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about JFS adoption support services is available online HERE Whether you’re considering adoption, in the middle of your home study, or caring for an adopted child, JFS is here to provide compassionate and individualized support for everyone in the Greater New Orleans community.