This is where you discuss things like cultural differences between Ireland and other countries and potential problems your child may have with attachment, bonding and other issues.
The preparation process provided by Tusla is great, but there is only so much preparation that can be done for a theoretical child, especially one with special needs. The reality is quite different, which is why post-adoption support is essential.
It is often a more complicated road than other parenting experiences.
It took Rosemary and Robert Walshe from Enniscorthy 12 years to become parents to Anna and Jarun.
“We started in 2002 and the process was pretty gruelling,” says Rosemary, 51. “Anyone hoping to adopt needs to be prepared to answer questions that will stir up deep-rooted emotions and be challenging to answer.” However, it was not the questioning she found most difficult; it was the waiting. Having started the process in 2002, the Walshes were finally matched with Anna in 2007, when she was two years old.
By the time they tried to adopt again, waiting times for China were too long. They tried Vietnam but Ireland temporarily ceased its adoptions from Vietnam during the process, so they had to start again, this time choosing Thailand. Their waiting finally came to an end in 2013 when they adopted then three-year-old Jarun from there.
The Walshes were prepared for possible medical issues. “You have to fill out a form listing the health issues you would be willing to accept in a child,” says Rosemary.
That was emotional because we had to be honest about what we could realistically cope with.
Both Anna and Jarun required speech and language therapy, and one of them has hearing loss and now wears hearing aids.
“Waiting lists are long so it took time to get them into the health system, but once they were in, they got great support,” says Walshe.
She and her family have also found support groups to be invaluable. “We’ve attended workshops and events over the years organised by the Irish China Contact Group and the Thai Adoption Group (TAG), both of which support families, pre and post adoption,” she says.
“These groups of parents share information and recommendations and have helped me so much. That’s why I now volunteer with TAG.” She urges prospective adoptive parents not to have any illusions about adoption.
“Don’t go in with rose-tinted glasses like some celebrities seem to do,” she says. “It’s a tough road with lots of twists and turns and sometimes heartache but it can bring such joy and fulfilment.”