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Psychoanalysis needed. What does this entail??

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Friends of ours are attempting to adopt a child internationally for the second time. They received a referrel and attempted to adopt him, then changed their mind before the adoption was finalized. (lots of medical issues) Well, after coming back to the U.S., they changed their minds again, and want to go back and adopt the first referrel after all. Their agency and everyone else involved in the process is upset at them and are saying they need to have a psychoanalysis done in addition to everything else they've already done and been through. Their agency is telling them that the court will want to see that they have the "right state of mind".


Our friends are feeling very defensive about this because they take offense that their "state of mind" was ever in question. They had to make a very difficult decision in a stressful enviorment. Since being home they have been able to process everything more and gather resources to address the child's medical problems. They are heartbroken over the whole thing. It's been very hard for them and they've already been through the ringer. They see this extra step their agency is asking them to do as intrusive and unneccessary especially after all they have been through already.


They are of the mindframe that they will not get this psychoanalysis done and try to go back to adopt the child without it. I'm trying to help them understand this is just an extra piece of paperwork and not a big deal. I'm trying to find out what all is involved in a psychoanalysis so I can show them that it's not a big deal as they are making it out to be. Is it??? How long does something like this take? Is it just a simple test they have to take and then they'll have the piece of paperwork they need or is it a lot more involved like they are thinking?


I fear that if they try to go back without it, that they will not be allowed to adopt the child, and the turmoil they have been through once, they'll have to go through it all again.


Thanks for any help.

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The agency has to look out for the best interests of the child, not the best interests of the potentially adoptive parents. By backing out once, even under stress, the parents have thrown up a red flag that they may not be able to handle parenting this child because adopting internationally can involve YEARS of major stress. Now, if the adoption agency let them be "surprised" by previously undisclosed medical conditions, then they may be working with the wrong agency. It is vitally important that the parents know the full scope of what they may have to cope with and have had time to process it and cope ahead of time, to make an informed decision. Even without medical problems, older adoptive children (and they usually are older in international adoptions) can have attachment disorder. It is NOT pretty. The child can be extremely difficult while rejecting the parents, which hurts SO much if you just want a child to love.


Honestly, the best course of action might be to let go of this particular child.


Psychoanalysis is not what the parents need. Psychoanalysis is years of at least once a week, typically twice a week meeting with an psychoanalyst to interpret dreams, etc. The agency likely recommended a psychological evaluation, not psychoanalysis. It is the very minimum that they would ask in a case such as that you described. Many agencies would simply say no at this point. A psychological eval would involve psychological testing that could help the parents see some things about themselves that they may not realize. It can be a chance to talk with someone about the issues and get a fresh perspective. In other words, it could be a good thing for the parents as well as reassure the agency.


I know that they are your friends and that you feel for them and their point of view. But honestly, they have given a rational agency reason to be concerned about their ability to commit and to handle stress. There are children who are adopted and then given back because the parents truly couldn't handle it. Obviously, that is painful for the parents, but is worst-case-scenario for the child. There are parents of special needs kids born to them or adopted by them who divorce because of conflicts over the demands of special needs kids. That's also not great for the child.


It's possible that it would be best for the parents to accept that this particular child wasn't meant to be theirs and to go with another adoption agency (if this one created a situation in which they were surprised by extensive medical needs.) It's also much better to make a decision about one's decisions as to extensive medical needs before the "psychological pregnancy" takes place. Once the parents have been matched to a child (such as in this case), there is a bonding that takes place. They turned down the adoption for a reason, now have rethought the decision. The bonding/guilt may be driving them to rethink what was the right decision for them in the first place, when it truly might have been best to say no. In other words, their second change of mind could also be a mistake. The people making that decision HAVE to know which it is. It's just cleaner and clearer to make those kinds of decisions (how much medical stuff can we deal with) BEFORE there is any match made.


Bottom line: in this case, I think being a good friend might involve encouraging the psych eval not as "no big deal, just a piece of paperwork" but as a positive opportunity to double-check their decision. Being a good friend might involve helping them see the perspective of what their actions look like to others, and why there might be a need to convince a judge, agency, etc. And yes, taking either of those perspectives might cost you a friendship.

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If I am not mistaken they need a Psych Eval (psychological evaluation) done by a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist. This is much different than psychoanalysis. It is standard for most large agencies (such as Bethany) to require one for international adoptions. It is not a 'test," per se, it is an evalution. A good psych evaluator would take into account the couples nervous factor and not "hold that against" them. Basically the evaluator will be looking for areas that would indicate problems in their marraige or with their ability to parent or provide. It is actually intended to protect all parties.

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My dh and I went through a routine psych evaluation prior to adopting out ds. It was routine because the country we were adopting from required one for all international adoptions. For us it was a simple personality test and interview, though I remember the psychatrist digging into whether our desire to adopt was a reaction to my father's recent death or a true desire to adopt and raise a child.


I have no doubt that the psychatrist in your friends' case will focus on determining if your friends are truly commited for the long term. And given their initial rejection, the psychiatrist will wonder what will they do if the child has other, undetectable problems. Unless they are commited for better or worse, it's best for the child's sake that they do not receive it. But what would your friends have done had she given birth to a child with birth defects?


If your friends go to the country without following the agency's request, they may find themselves in even worse repute. The agency *will* contact the foreign courts about your friends refusing an evaluation, and probably won't be willing to work with them again. They might even pull their homestudy and recommendation that your friends adopt the child. I don't know if they would spread word about about your friends with other local agencies.


Unfortunately your friends weren't properly prepared for the unexpected. An adoption class I took warned us that we should have the phone number of a pediatrician (and others) to call for info for the unexpected that *will* crop up, and misinformation on known health issues happens (both positive and negative). Our agency didn't warn us. Yes, it's a stressful situation and your friends may feel like they were betrayed, but how would they respond if they found problems after they brought the child home? Not all problems are obvious. Would they return the child? I do think that had they rejected the child as being misrepresented to them and then hadn't changed their mind, they might have come off better with their local agency.


I agree with Laurie4B. It's not easy to raise a child with problems. And many problems aren't uncovered for years after the adoption. So it's vitally important to place a child with a couple that can make a long term commitment to a child even when things go wrong. When their first reaction is to reject a child, the people responsible for finding a good, permanent home for that child have to wonder. The psychatrist may be able to reassure them.


PS I just asked my dh about our psych eval. His thoughts were that even the combination of home study and psych evaluation gave very little info on whether we would make good parents. But he had another comment. The adoption is low stress compared to actually raising a child. (and our agency called our adoption "the adoption from h*ll", so we know adoption stress!) If they can't handle the adoption stress, can they handle the stress of raising a child?

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family wants to go back to adopt their same child with whom they were initially matched but rejected. I'm not sure, to be honest, why an agency would not be doing its best to match this child with another family or why this child would not already have been matched. My own experience is that these agencies and the home countries want to get these children home to their families. You didn't mention which country this was, but it seems to me that the adoption authorities in the country may be the ones demanding a psych eval and that they will not allow the adoption to proceed without it. I seems to me that it would be counter-productive to try to go ahead and adopt without jumping through this extra hoop.



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Now, if the adoption agency let them be "surprised" by previously undisclosed medical conditions, then they may be working with the wrong agency. /QUOTE]



Yes, they were surprised by undisclosed medical conditions. The child was already a disabled child, so before they went over, they armed themselves with resources, etc. to address that specific major disability. Once over there they recieved info that the child had a lot more going on on top of it. For them it was a lot to digest in such a short amount of time and they felt if they weren't 100% certain, they shouldn't go ahead with it at that time.


They've adopted an older chid before so they are not new to problems arising/stress, etc. Since being home they have gathered more resources and have thought about the extra needs and if they can handle them. Being their friend and knowing what they have been through and their ability of what they can handle, I *do* want to help them in adopting this child. I think that they would be wonderful parents to a special needs child and know they are ready to take it on.


Anyway, I must be confused about psychanalysis vs. psych evaluation. It must be the latter they need. I think they are just feeling a bit defensive like their state of mind is being questioned, when stopping something they weren't 100% sure about showed a mark of maturity and a stable state of mind. Wouldn't it be worse to just make a decision based on pure emotion? Anyway, I just want to encourage them to listen to their agency just so that they cover their bases. I hope they do so they don't waste a bunch of money and time going there again for nothing. Thanks for the replies.

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I understand that as their friend, this is the way you view it. However, if as you posted above, they actually changed their minds (as opposed to asked for more time) everyone else involved will view it as a rejection of the child. This combined with the second change of mind does raise issues of their mental stability. I totally *get* that you see them as mentally stable. But you're their friend. To the agency employees, foreign judges, etc. they are strangers whom they have reason to be concerned about in terms of commitment.


My response isn't about whether or not your friends are stable. It's about the perception that others will have. It is rational for others to now have questions.


Allowing them to submit a psych eval to help assure the agency, court, etc. sounds like a major concession to me. (Agency: We now have reason to worry about your commitment, to worry about whether you are stable. However, if a professional psychologist will assure us that you're okay, we're willing to consider that.) If your friends reject that option, they will look like they have something to hide, thereby adding to the perception that they aren't a stable couple. Again, I'm just trying to help you see it the way others are going to be interpreting that info because that's what they need to understand if they want to proceed. It may feel very unfair that they are in this position and they may see it as the agency's fault. This may be their way of processing things and you and they may feel that they've behaved maturely and rationally. However, if they want THAT child, they will need to understand how their behavior looks to others and comply with the request. As a friend, you might be able to help them take that other perspective.

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