Care plan


What is it

The care plan is aimed at starting to prepare for the arrival a the child.

It helps build a sense of entitlement, and ease the worry of the unknown.

When is it used

It is used in session 3: The impact of loss and separation, its relevance to adoption ; Identity, difference and belonging.

It is used in conjunction with the Time Pie Chart.


List what a child in general needs, what an adoptive child might need, and what an internationally adopted child would need.

Try and answer the following questions:

  • What arrangements will we make within the family home?
    • Sleeping arrangements: prepare bedroom, keeping it simple, sharing a room, sleeping in our bedroom
    • Safety precautions, from now: fencing, fencing/filling garden ponds, stair gates, cupboard locks, fire guards, remove ornaments, etc.
    • Equipment: Cot, pram, car seat, changing unit, high chair, sterilizing unit, clothes depending on child’s age, etc.
    • Pets: are they compatible, allergies, where is their litter/food?
  • What arrangements will we make at work? (Especially for the year that has to be taken off work)
    • How much notice to give to the employer of plans?
    • Career break, job share, notice?
    • How long will we need to be away?
    • How long can we afford?
    • Who will be staying home, at which periods?
    • Entitlements: adoption leave, parental leave, annual leave?
  • If we work outside the home, what are our plans for the child?
    • Which parent will stay at home for the first year, or more
    • Who will mind the child if we both return to work
    • Find a long term child minder
    • Think about getting a child minder who can connect with the child’s culture, maybe an au pair from the country of origin (make sure we have resolved trust issues, and sense of entitlement as a “real” parent)
    • WILL NOT use crèche care
  • Who do we need to prepare in the family, and how?
    • Other children
    • Extended family, especially grand-parents, siblings, nieces and nephews
    • Those who will be in touch with the child
    • Assess attitudes and reactions
  • How will we introduce the child to friends, family and children who are part of our network?
    • Provide information and educate
    • Prepare them to “funneling”: gradual introduction of the  child
    • Do not expose child too quickly
    • Short managed visits, be strict
    • Be sensitive the child’s reactions
    • Be aware that child may be sensitive to unfamiliar sounds
    • Channels all gifts, rewards and care through us
  • How much do we share of our child’s personal history and whom with?
    • Prepare them to not feel entitled to all the details of the child history
    • Determine  the “need to know” of each person
    • Medical history with GP
    • Medical history and previous (traumatic) experiences with therapist and other professionals providing support
    • Full details (age appropriate) of personal history for child only
    • Have short-hand story to avoid lengthy explanations
    • Avoid shortcuts and “liberality” with the truth
  • Have we prepared our own story book and how might this link with the child’s?
    • Start own story book now, significant events, our story as a couple, photos
    • Journey to adoption, preparation course, assessment, plans made, contacts, referral, preparing for the arrival
    • Travel to the country, diary of thoughts and experiences, meeting the child for the first time, photos
  • Who will travel to the child’s country of origin?
    • Usually both, even if unmarried
    • Friend/relative
  • How will we take part in preparing the child before they meet us?
    • Preparing child to our look, smell
    • Having stories told to the child, music played, household recordings etc., that will make them familiar with new environment
  • What preparation can we make prior to travelling to the child’s country to help his/her settling in?
    • Reproduce some of the existing setting the child is familiar with (bed/no bed, lights/no lights, etc.)
    • Stocking up on food the child may be familiar with
    • Engage a doctor to help with medical issues
    • Study what can be expected in the care of a child in that age bracket
    • Find people who have adopted in similar conditions (geographical location, special needs, sole adopters, same-gender adopters)
    • Find people who are familiar with the country of origin (e.g., what to wear, social conventions, …)
    • Learn about the country, culture, but also stereotypes to avoid importing home
    • Learn “babyese”, simple language that the child will be familiar with, especially comfort words
    • Ensure everything is ready before the child’s arrival: e.g., do not postpone child proofing the house
  • What will we need to take?
  • What will we do when we are there?
    • Keep a diary
    • Go to orphanage, foster home, birth family’s home or village
    • If possible connect with birth family, and get something like an object or letter to pass on, and if possible photos and anecdotes, etc.
    • If possible connect with orphanage staff
    • Learn child’s routine
    • Suggest alternative routines be started gradually if possible
    • Make local contacts/friends we can rely on
    • Spend as much time with child as possible
    • Study culture, history, language, food, hair-care
    • Visit important places. landmarks
    • Go to shops, restaurants, religious buildings
    • Go to the country side if safe
    • Keep tickets, vouchers, supermarket receipts, restaurant menues, etc.
    • Buy souvenirs, traditional items, music tapes, children books, local newspapers, school books
    • Take photos and videos of everything!
  • What will we plan to do when we  are overseas completing the adoption process?
  • What will we plan to hold in trust for our child when he or she is older, or even adult?
    • Clothes they wore
    • Information about background and family
    • Photographs
    • Documents relating to the adoption
    • Birth certificates, visa, passport, nationality
    • Letter/testimonial from birth parents, orphanage staff, etc.
    • Our diary
    • Keepsakes, mementos collected during visits
    • Life story book
  • How do we imagine we will change things to make our child’s transition as positive as possible?
    • Minimize changes
    • Phase out/in food, smell, sounds very gradually
    • Avoid over-stimulating environment (noise, lights, etc.)
    • Few toys
    • Ensure we gathered enough information from carers about child’s background, life to date, routine, likes, dislikes, soothing mechanisms
    • Spend as much time  with child in the country of origin as possible
    • Always have one parents available to meet the child’s need
    • Funnel introduction to family, friends
  • Who will we turn to for help and support in those first days/weeks/months as we get to know our child?
    • Family, friends
    • Other adoptive parents, support groups
    • Social workers, family doctor, local health center, public health nurse, experts
  • How will we organize time for ourselves?
    • When child sleeps
    • On week-ends, with child, do something different
    • Once a month first, then once a week, get someone the child trusts to mind the child for couple-time
    • Share responsibility and caring to allow individual time out, especially for the person who stays home the first year
    • Keep some key hobbies, interests no matter what


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