Programme set up to assess future adoptive parents
The programme was presented at an international academic conference on preventative action, detection of and protection from abuse of children needing to be adopted, by Aleksandr Makhnach, one of those responsible for it, and senior member of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He explained that a psychological assessment of potential parents is included in the basic course for future adoptive parents. It consists of an interview and several tests aimed at identifying and “sifting” candidates. There are four stages: an interview designed to identify people who are clearly unsuitable; tests to identify people with pathological characteristics such as alcoholism, drug addiction, violent tendencies etc; assessments to establish the general social and psychological health of the family; and tests to establish whether there are strong personality characteristics present. A decision on suitability for adoption is made on the basis of the results of all the tests. Families previously judged to be unsuitable for raising children (single parents, people on low incomes or lacking higher education) are now judged to be at least as stable as families who do not fit into these categories. The risk of rejection of a child rises when families are motivated by factors such as a desire to save their marriage, material gain, the need for self-justification or to attract attention, or the wish not to raise a child alone, and so on.
Unlike in Russia, in the US preparation of adoptive parents, including assessments of their suitability, is compulsory. The Director of the not-for-profit US United Council of International Children’s Clubs, Tomasam Defilipo, explained that people wishing to adopt are assessed according to criteria such as their family situation, health and disabilities, dependence on alcohol, drugs or tobacco, reproductive health, attitude of their biological children to an adopted child, religious convictions, criminal record, and willingness to cooperate with social services. Defilipo said that potential parents need to know where they can go for help if difficulties arise with the child, and have to undergo 20 hours of training, during which they learn about the role and responsibilities of adoptive parents, and the rights of the child and those of its biological parents. The child also undergoes preparation. By the end of 2010, it is intended that in Russia a programme will be developed, and later approved, to prepare people for adoption. The Director of the Department for Rearing and Socialising Children in the Ministry of Education and Science, Anna Levitskaya, says that as a result of this preparatory work, about 30% of people hoping to adopt change their minds, thus reducing the number of cases of a second rejection or cruelty to a child.