Keep Notes Throughout the Adoption Journey

a photo of a notebook on a desk next to a computer and a mug.

The adoption journey will vary from person to person, so don’t expect your experience to mirror someone else’s. But the process is complex and there are lots of new things to learn. It can be easy to forget something or to overlook something. And that’s where note-taking was really helpful for me. You may have seen my other posts on adoption but if not there are here and here.

I work in academia, so note-taking comes second nature to me and I also kind of love stationery. So any excuse to buy a new notebook had me excited. I bought a new notebook from Moleskine and decided that this would be where I keep all my adoption stuff. I also set up a folder in my email so that I could file all adoption-related emails. In my job I am fairly organized, so this kind of came as second nature. Complexities later in the adoption journey meant that being this organized proved really useful. I was able to get my hands on information quickly and easily.

To be honest it doesn’t really matter what you make notes of. I noted dates, meetings and overall summaries of what the meetings involved, plus any actions or to-dos that come from the meetings. I also kept a list on the back page of websites, blogs, books etc all filled with information that can be helpful.

During meetings with the social worker, which are numerous and regular, the notebook was with me. I made key pointers on what was discussed, homework to be done – there’s tonnes – plus anything that was said that would stand out to me. I went into adoption with a clear idea of what I was getting into. That idea was quickly altered by facts and perspectives that discussions with the social worker unearthed. My notebook became a place I would regularly reflect, look back on what was talked about. And as the journey progressed it really helped me to think about adoption from a number of angles. The notebook was not a place to record what was said and to hold people accountable to their words. You cannot approach adoption in this manner as it’s vital and important to build a trusting relationship with your social worker. But, my notebook did become a place that I would look back on certain discussions with my social worker. I’d ask her to elaborate and perhaps recommend further reading.

When My Notes Were Handy

It wasn’t until I was matched with my son and interacting with the local authority that my notes really became extremely useful. Now more people were involved in making decisions. Some of these were open to preference which led to conflicting ideas. And sometimes people became inaccurate in what they were asking for or talking about. The situation is already rather stressful, and this only made things worse. I know what I am like and I know I need clarity, particularly when it comes to fully understand adopting a child. What are the child’s needs and can I meet these?

Meetings were full of toing and froing, and I was able to look at my notebook and provide details of what had been said, agreed and already completed. Whether this helped everyone or more likely, wound them up, didn’t matter. It helped me and it helped me to know what was happening and when and to feel organized.

Right towards the very end of the adoption process, there were real issues with communication. Being the control freak that I am, not getting answers ruffled my feathers. Once again, my notes stepped in to save the day and my sanity. I was able to liaise with the relevant people, provide dates, facts, and agreed details. This all helped progress the adoption where a lack of communication could have potentially slowed things down. My experience, as I mentioned above, is not standard and this doesn’t mean that your process will be fraught with tension at the end. More often than not, things do go smoother. But boy, was I glad that I am a prolific note-taker and a bit of a stationery addict. And, I now have these notes to show my son when, in the future, we talk in detail about how he came to be mine.

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