The Home Study: Wrapping Up
Control. It’s gone when you adopt. You have no say really in how slowly or quickly all the different agencies process your paperwork or what they decide is or is not good enough. All paperwork has to be filled out a specific way. Each organization has a specific way that they want their paperwork done and their own individual quirks. We’ve heard of some organizations sending back paperwork because “n/a” was not written in every single blank space. Some organizations take weeks and some take months to review, approve, and send back paperwork so not having something filled out properly can literally add months to the process. It makes filling out paperwork quite stressful.
There was one form we filled seven different times because we had heard that the organization we were sending it off to for their approval had a tendency to send things back. So we would go over and over the form making sure everything was legible and there were no mistakes. If something looked the least bit sloppy on that particular form, we’d trash it and start once again. Even though it was tedious filling out the form so many times, we are thankful for our adoption agency’s knowledge of the preferences/quirks of all the different organizations we send things to and, so far, we have not run into any major issues with our paperwork.
In fact, we just found out this week that our FBI checks are all set! Yay! The FBI background check is one of the longer processes to complete. Once you go to get your fingerprints done with a good ol’fashioned ink pad, fill out the paperwork and send it all in to the FBI, it takes on average 15 weeks to get the results back in the mail. So, we are quite relieved to have that particular step of the process done.
Our home study is winding down and it went great. I (Grace) will meet with our social worker one last time next week and then we wait for our social worker to write everything up and get it to our adoption agency. From there, we have…you guessed it…more paperwork! But, what’s exciting is that this is the paperwork for our dossier, the packet that gets sent to Uganda, AND we have been working on as much of the dossier as we could during our home study so we only have a few more things to do!
We will have had a total of four visits with our social worker. The Lord blessed us greatly with a Christian social worker and it was wonderful to be able to connect with her in that way. When people hear the words “home study”, they often think it is like an interrogation. While it is true that you do answer a LOT of questions about yourself, your family and life in general, it is also a time to learn about issues that could come up during and after the adoption in your family and also in your adopted child/ren’s life. Adoption will be a major change for our family and our social worker was such a valuable resource and helped us work through some of the questions we had about bringing another child/ren in our home who is from a different culture and background.
Some of the topics we discussed were what type of child/ren we were interested in adopting, such as what age, sex, and whether or not we were open to adopting a child/ren with special needs. She asked why we were interested in adopting from Uganda and what types of things we were doing to prepare our children for the adoption. She wanted to know about our marriage, how we handle conflict and what our most difficult experience has been as a married couple. She also wanted to know about our parenting style, including the way(s) we discipline our children. Other topics she asked about included our involvement in the community, ways we were raised, and what our relatives and friends think about the adoption. She also talked to our little ladies about their lives and what they thought about adopting. It was so sweet to hear our girls talk to her about adopting and all the things they have done to help out what they call “the girlies in Africa”, such as filling up Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes each year and making dresses for the “girlies”.
Going into the process, we were most anxious because we were not sure what questions to expect and whether or not our answers were going to be sufficient. Over the nine years we have been married, we’ve figured out the way we do things in our marriage and family, but it was a bit nerve-wracking to invite someone into our lives to examine us. We had several misgivings initially, but once we had a meeting or two with our social worker we realized she is an excellent listener so if we did not have a “set” answer to her question, she was happy to listen to us talk through a topic. She did ask us a lot of questions, but it was more like a conversation with a friend as opposed to an interrogation session, which helped put us at ease too.
At the end of the last meeting with our social worker, she told us she thought we were going to be awesome adoptive parents. After all the training, paperwork and questions, we were starting to feel incredibly weighed down by all the things to consider when adopting and so her words were such an encouragement. So, dear friends, we press on. One more meeting with our social worker and then…on to completing our dossier!
p.s. just in case you were wondering…our FBI background checks found that we are NOT on any most wanted lists…phew!