Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Post Placement Reports: An Honor or a Headache?

"Let's keep in touch, ok?"

One of the quirky things about being an adoptive parent in the Ethiopian program are the Yearly Post Placement Reports. (Capitalized because that is how many of us think of them... as a Big Thing We Need to Do Every Year.)  The Ethiopian government requests and files these, and makes them available for birth families (or so we are told by our agency). They are essentially a progress report on the children; and they should be done every year until the child is 18.

I just finished our first one. One down. 16 more to go. Sigh.  It was supposed to be mailed out in July, on our year anniversary.  I started it in July, well, I started thinking about in July, but it took me the whole summer to complete.  One down, 16 more to go.

There must be an easier way.

Since I'm sure the Ethiopian embassy has more important things to do, it is unlikely that a government representative will be knocking on our door next summer or any summer after that, demanding to know why our post placement report isn't done. The onus is completely on us. And if there is even the slimmest of chances that their Ethiopian father or their older siblings will read the reports and see the photos attached, we'll keep sending them.  But I've got to make it less of a summer long project, or we'll never make it through 16 more.

Here's a couple of ideas I thought of to make next year's Post Placement Report less onerous. If you have any suggestions, please comment and share!

1. I made a template of the report outline on our computer. That way, I don't have to go digging around for our agency's file every year.  I can also review what I wrote in previous reports. The report outline is pretty simple: height, weight, health issues, attachment, relationships, development, and cultural connection. The cultural connection is the tough one. I can't write "We eat injera once a week!" for the next 16 years. So this will push me to find ever more creative ways to teach them about their Ethiopian heritage.

2. Photo Organization! (This is project for my life in general- we have 10,000 photos on our computer right now, pretty loosely organized. I am overwhelmed.) We need to send 4 photos of each child with the reports.  The photos need to be good ones, of course and also: kids have to be fully dressed, no costumes, no silly faces, no animals or weird props, and no identifying markers (like a school t-shirt or a street sign in the background).  I set up a folder in our i-photo library for each child, and when we take a photo that fulfills the requirements, I'll just drop it in.  Hopefully by the end of the year, we've got at least 4 good ones ready to be printed.

3. Timing. Summer is a good time for me to have an extra project to complete, since I'm not working full time. But, April is when they have their annual birthday check-ups, so I'll have their latest measurements.  Next year I may complete their post placement reports around their birthdays.  Then I can get the photos developed (including some nice ones of them in their birthday finest) and there is a chance that the whole thing will actually be in the mail by July.

We'll see what next year brings.

Looking towards the future...

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