May 18, 2015

Our Home Study Experience

Wow, that was quick and painless! ....Did I miss something? Wasn't that supposed to be intimidating, invasive, and take forever? M and I might have gotten extremely lucky and had just about the best (and fastest!) experience possible with our home study!

Admittedly, there is probably great variation from state to state and even agency to agency within the same state. A home study is very much a "Your mileage may vary" kind of experience. Ours was a veritable cake walk. Mmmm...cake....

I had planned on not going crazy with cleaning because I knew there wouldn't be any white glove test. I thought, let's clean the bathrooms well and the kitchen, but other than that just vacuum, pick up clutter, maybe dust if there is time (haha, no, there wasn't time). But then I started breaking out with my second poison ivy rash in a month and so instead of cleaning like Jesus is coming because of the home study, we did it to try to wipe out any lingering trace of poison ivy oil that might be on the dog, furniture, carpet, *wherever*! I was very pleased with the state of our home by the time the social worker arrived - not like she was going to disapprove us from a lack of dusting, right??

I am so proud of how M handled the home study, there aren't sufficient words for how well he did. He is such an introvert, like not socially awkward just not a joiner in any way - he is a watcher and a listener, not a talker. In my family, we call him a cat because that is seriously the way he behaves. But with the social worker he was relaxed, spoke easily, didn't give weirdly vague or too short responses, and he even came up with some really clever ideas for handling discipline and for handling a closed adoption situation - completely on the fly! It was pretty much how M acts around me when it is just us, so I'm not saying he behaved totally unlike himself, just unlike himself when around strangers or large groups. I know he had to put a lot of conscious effort into it, so I made sure to acknowledge it with him later.

The questions were pretty straight forward and I didn't feel like they were overly probing. I answered the very long question of how we came to adoption over the past 4 years. M fielded the question of how we met and ended up together (an oddly long story, actually). There were general questions about our families, our relationships with them, our experiences growing up. Then there were adoption/parenting questions such as "How do you plan on handling discipline?"; "What level of openness are you comfortable with?"; "What if an expectant mother chooses you, but says she wants no contact?". None of the questions took us by surprise or were anything we hadn't already discussed at length with each other. Our answers came easily and honestly and we were able to provide some amount of detail to the more hypothetical questions, proving we'd thought things through.

The walk-through of the house had me nervous because we live in an almost 100 year old American Four Square. It was pretty much gutted to studs and remodeled in the late 90's, but the owners maintained the original aesthetics and craftsmanship of the house as much as possible. All that is to say: we have an old, quirky, and definitely NOT standard kind of home. Child-proofing will take thought, trial and error, and some creativity. We tried to demonstrate we are already thinking about those concerns, even if we haven't actually installed much in the way of child-proofing (and honestly, that comes down to me refusing to put anything in my home that is baby exclusive when we could wait 2 years to match). But apparently, it is a good thing that our old door knobs don't lock and that the original, double hung windows are a pain in the ass for an adult to open. We didn't get dinged on a single thing - whew!

Our social worker was with us for just under 3 hours and at the end of it all, pronounced she had everything she needed and saw no need to schedule a second visit! Wow! I felt like we were getting away with something, like cheating! She has all my contact info of course, so she said if any other questions come up while she is writing the report, she will just email me. The feeling of relief as she left our house was amazing. We passed! Someone thinks we could be safe, decent parents and will make that recommendation to the state for us! Not all couples can say they are state-certified parents ;-)

So now I need to really start working on the Profile book, writing out drafts of each section, researching layout options on Shutterfly. I guarantee the home study report will be submitted and our infant care classes completed before I finish the profile. I want to be very methodical and purposeful about the content because I want us to match with someone who feels a connection with us - the real us, not a stripped down/sanitized version of us. This is so exciting! We are SO close to be approved and waiting!!

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