9. The Psychological Evaluation
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
India requires a psychological evaluation, but before enduring this procedure, you must survive the first step: finding the psychologist.
What is a psychological evaluation for a prospective adoptive parent?
Short answer: a requirement of India.
My dossier packet included a letter I would provide to the psychologist detailing how the psychologist was permitted to test myself and my spouse psychologically. Several tests were encouraged, the PAI, MCMI and MMPI2 (no, I did not know what these were) and yet, on a circumspect and critical read, I judged that they were not required. I comforted myself with this idea and found the psychologists within my insurance network. I felt uncomfortable asking for a psych eval, but might we not need a therapist after the kids arrived … or even before they arrived, someone to help us adjust to changing circumstances? Yes, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to narrow the search. I wanted a psychologist who …
1. Could provide a psychological evaluation for adoption
2. Would be available to work with either of us should we need some support while navigating the transition time
3. Would be able to help us with adopted kids after they arrived, possibly helping us understand any issues they might have
Yes, I reassured myself, as I wrote down and clarified my wish list. Though the psych eval seemed an exorbitant requirement given the background checks and the extensive time we would spend with social workers during the home visits, we would make the most of the situation. We would discover a new confidant and supporter.
I picked up the phone.
I felt nervous.
I soon realized that my nervousness was unjustified.
Have you ever tried to call psychologists?
First, expect voicemail.
Second, know that many will be booked up—at least they are in Seattle, home of the clouds and vitamin D deficits.
Of the few that answered my call or responded to my voicemail the next day, very few felt qualified to do a psychological evaluation. Most said that they were under-qualified. Two were highly qualified and willing.
One of these wanted to meet us for ten hours each, was charging $150 per hour, but was willing to consider less after seeing financial documents verifying our low-enough income. She no longer accepted our insurance but informed me that we would not want our insurance company to have our psych evals on permanent record. Really. That is what she said. I wonder which tests she would have selected.
The other qualified psychologist was a very young woman who was certain it would take over a month of personal sessions with each of us to complete her evaluation.
One man, Jeff, from Restoration Counseling, told me he could do it in two to four hours, though he was about to go on vacation and would not be able to start until a month had passed. 2-4 hours was the amount of time that Lacey, the representative for our home-study agency, Agape Adoptions, had quoted me.*
I kept calling.
Few psychologists available at all.
Fewer still for a psychological evaluation.
Philip had not started his autobiography yet, so I decided to make an appointment with Jeff. When I called his number, a jovial, kind voice answered.
“I want to help you, and I have done this before. What country are you adopting from?”
“Oh.” Jeff took a deep breath as he gathered his thoughts. “That might be more complicated. I will send you my quote by email. Is that okay?”
“Sure,” I said, heart sinking.
Later that day, he sent a quote requiring two psychological tests not covered by insurance that would cost $250 followed by multiple sessions with him.
That did it.
I was officially, unmistakably, and unabashedly certifiable. I emailed Jordyn at Nightlight and Lacey at Agape. I copy-pasted several emails, and wrote, please, tell me what this psych evaluation definitely has to entail. It seems that every person I talk to either does not know what it is, feels under-qualified, or feels over-qualified.
With their usual, commendable tenacity, they both responded within the hour with pledges to find out about other clients’ experiences.
Four hours later, I had the final results, with Lacey quoting 2-4 hours maximum, including paperwork time, in Washington state. Jordyn also provided data that clients had successfully adopted from India with as little as 1.5 hours of psychological evaluation time.
I quoted their texts to Jeff and added, maybe you had a bad experience before, but this is what my agency is saying. Do you think you can minimize your hours for us?
That evening, his response arrived. Yes, I did try to help a family and had a tough experience, but maybe times have changed. I will give you the minimum as well as I can.
It would be a month before I could find out if he was as honest as he sounded, but anyway, we had an appointment. Not necessarily with a psychologist who could fulfill all the points on my wish list—after leaving ten voicemails, I had given up on my list to save time—but with the one man in our city who was willing to help us adopt without robbing us blind.
The only qualified and honorable psychologist in Seattle.
At least, he was the only one who was not booked.
Erica Rosi Tham
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* We have had to work with two agencies, Agape Adoptions for our Home Study and Nightlight Christian Adoptions for the actual adoption. This is because there is no agency in Washington state, where we live, that has a program with India, and the home study must be done from an agency in one's state.