Adoption Practice Goes Virtual

Adoption Practice Goes Virtual

As with many services during Covid 19, a move to online service has become a part of adoption practice.  Historically the use of online interviewing has been viewed with skepticism and concern that a lack of face to face encounters would be too impersonal and simply not work well for conducting an appropriate adoption assessment.   In my experience over the past four months I have found that virtual interviews through online videoconferencing have worked very well.  I feel very connected to applicants and they have been very ready to engage in the various topics and discussions that are part of an adoption home study.  In fact, these sessions seem much more efficient and focused while still personal, in depth and even intimate.  Work that was already started was able to continue.  So long as the internet service is reliable the process of working online, in my experience, is VERY effective.  It removes the time and stresses of travelling for clients and practitioner alike.   Clients can attend an interview in the comfort of their own home.  For myself as a practitioner, it is very easy to conduct interviews after a few short steps to my home office and a few clicks on my computer.  Practice seems much simpler to manage.

In spite of these advantages, adoption assessments still require a home visit and home safety check.  There is no substitute for these as one needs to be on site.  However, a virtual review and tour prior to the actual home visit can give a lot of information and then the visit itself can generally be a quick visit with masks and social distancing in place.  When there are children in the family who need to be interviewed, when I do the home visit, I meet with the children outside whenever possible observing social distancing requirements.  Summer makes this work well but for wintertime I will likely do more children’s interviews through videoconferencing.

Adoption Practice goes beyond assessments.  Once a placement occurs there is the requirement of supervision and post placement visits with the child and parents in order to support the family integration and development.  Nothing can work as well as face to face sessions in the home.  A lot can be achieved through virtual meetings but observing interactions, seeing the family together, experiencing the home environment and atmosphere first-hand requires being there at least for some period of time.

Given that adoption is a lifelong process, there is often a need for continuing support or counselling beyond finalization as part of normal adoptive family development occurs.  This, too, can readily be accomplished through virtual sessions.

For virtual practice, of course, a stable Internet connection is required.  This can sometimes be a challenge in more rural areas.  And one needs to be vigilant about security.  None of my clients have expressed any concern about their privacy or the security of our online discussions.  However, as professionals ensuring their confidentiality and privacy is important.  So, encryption and locked meetings are standard procedures.  Clients have all been very willing and have shown no hesitation to work online as many of them are using the Internet for working from home so it is a familiar mode of communication.  From their perspective it is an easy way to work toward their important goals of building a family, responding to their child’s needs and fostering healthy adoptive family functioning.  A further bonus for them is that the availability of online services enables them to readily reach beyond their immediate geographical area to obtain the services they need.

Until Covid 19, Ontario has limited the use of virtual interviews for our work as Adoption Practitioners.  It is my hope that with the ‘new normal’ that adoption professionals will be able to incorporate more online work into day to day practice.

  • by Patricia Fenton, MSW, RSW