Q: We’re adopting from Mexico and they’re requiring a psychological evaluation of the parents and children in the family (if any). Do you happen to know what this is for? I’m very skeptical about, well, pretty much everything and this one raised a red flag right from the start. We have a pretty normal marriage and family, in my opinion, but I’m scared of what they psychologist might think, or find. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but we’ve been working so hard and so long to get our little angel from Mexico that I’m terrified that this person will say ‘no, you can’t adopt. You’re all nuts!’.
A: The psychological evaluation is common in many countries and becoming more so. Countries want to make sure that the people adopting their children are not “nuts” and are capable of parenting. I’m not really convinced that the psychological evaluation is all that effective at determining this and doubt that it is more effective than the home study, but I understand the desire of the country. Also, quite frankly, the psychological evaluation allows blame sharing when things go wrong. “Hey, even the psychologist couldn’t tell that this would happen” or “We did all we could to make sure that pedophiles or child abusers didn’t adopt. It’s not our fault one slipped through.” The evaluation is usually fairly standard and is nothing to worry about. Adoption agencies and foreign countries are not looking for perfection. They are simply trying to weed out obviously inappropriate families. We all have idiosyncrasies and quirks that we worry about, but these seldom interfere with parenting. If you are working with a local agency, they will usually have a psychologist or therapist they recommend and who is familiar with what is required. If not, you need to find out from your agency as much information as possible about what type of evaluation is required and what the country is looking for. This is important information for the psychologist to have before the evaluation.
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