Saturday, February 7, 2015

Homestudy Part 2

       
   The past 2 weeks have been filled with getting the various paperwork we needed for our second homestudy: doing our taxes for this year, collecting employment statements from work, and the oh-so-obnoxious process of having our doctors do health verification forms. Here's a tip: there is a good chance that your health insurance will not cover some of the labwork if your doctor indicates that they are for legal purposes and not out of a health concern (such as drug screenings and HIV/STI testing). Ours sure didn't! So, unless you want to be surprised with a pretty significant bill (a few hundred dollars, in our case), you would probably be better off getting your own tests done (you can get a voluntary drug screening, and of course HIV testing is readily accessible) rather than going to your doctor and them insisting on ordering those labs (CYA, you know) and then the lab going "Oh, sorry, we don't process insurance if this is for legal rather than medical purposes, because they won't take it, anyway." By the time I found that out, we were running out of time and I just had to fork over the money and do it, or take the chance of having to reschedule our second homestudy. And with my husband unavailable every weekend for the next 4-6 weeks or so, that just wasn't a great option for us. Hindsight is 20/20.
               Anyway, this is a post about what to expect during part 2 of the homestudy.


Confirmation of materials:

The first thing our social worker did was to sit down with our checklist of what we were still missing and make sure that the paperwork that we had for her today filled in all of those gaps. She updated us on where we stood with our background checks (nothing is back yet, surprise surprise), and took a few moments to look over our letters of support that we had for her from family and friends. After all of the hoopla with my labwork, it didn't end up being back on time, anyway. Thankfully, she was okay with this and said that since it was literally one piece of paper missing out of the small mountain of paperwork we had given her, she could work on getting everything else processed and I could just scan and send her the form when I got it back.

Joint interview:
The 3 of us sat down and reviewed some of the things we had talked about at our last meeting. She asked several questions specifically related to our preferences for an adoption situation. Some of her questions were:
  • What are your motivations for adopting? (infertility, health problems, etc)
  • Do you have a gender preference? What about a racial preference?
  • Would you be open to multiples if a bio mom was pregnant with twins?
  • Would it be a problem for you if the pregnancy was the result of a rape? What about if the bio mom doesn't know who the bio dad is? 
  • Are you willing to consider a bio mom who has used substances (alcohol, drugs, marijuana) during her pregnancy?
  • How would you feel about a special needs child if there was a condition that had been identified during pregnancy?
  • If the bio mom wanted to get to know you during pregnancy, would you be open to spending time with her? Would you be willing to go to doctor's appointments with her? Would it upset you if she didn't want you to go to doctor's appointments?
  • What level of openness are you comfortable with? 
  • Have you talked about how and when you will tell the child about the adoption? 
  • What have your families said about your plans to adopt? Is there anyone important to you who hasn't been supportive? 
  • Do you personally know anyone who has adopted or has been adopted? Have you talked to them about your plans and received insight or advice?
  • Have you read any books or taken any classes about adoption? 
  • Do you understand the risks of adoption? Are you comfortable with how our state handles issues of unknown paternity and the waiting period before the bio mom can legally sign the adoption paperwork after the baby is born?
 A note about stating preferences in your home study versus stating preferences to your adoption agency:
       Although there were a few areas where we did have a preference for situations that we would and would not be comfortable with, our social worker gave us a head's up that those preferences would likely not be included in our homestudy. Here's why: the situation that you are approved for in your homestudy report is the only situation you are approved for. Meaning, if you state that you want to adopt a healthy Caucasian newborn boy (this isn't what we said, just giving an example), and your casework puts in your homestudy report that she thinks that you would be a great fit for a healthy Caucasian newborn boy, but a situation comes along that feels right and is otherwise a great match but the baby will be a biracial girl, or they know that the baby will have a health problem, or the baby is 8 months old, you would have to get a homestudy update done (not cheap!) and wait for the courts to process the update paperwork (not quick!). So, the homestudy social worker may make a generic statement that you would be a good home for an infant of any race or gender, even if at the time of the interview you think that you are positive about any race or gender preference you may have. But, obviously they still have to make an objective evaluation about what would be a good fit for you. If you don't believe that you have the resources to care for a child with significant special needs, your social worker may put in your report that you are a good fit for a healthy or reasonably healthy child, but that at this time in your life, your family may not be a good fit for a child with a severe or ongoing medical condition. You can then specify with your adoption agency that although you have been approved for any situation, you do have some preferences that you would like to start out with. This gives you some freedom to modify your preferences as you go through the process without being out another several hundred dollars and being delayed another couple of months.

Individual interviews:
She then wanted to talk to each of us one-on-one. From our discussions afterward, it seemed that she asked my husband and I pretty similar questions. None of them were difficult or controversial, more life-reflection type stuff. Each of us talked to her for a little under an hour. Some questions that I remember her asking were:
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your hobbies? 
  • How involved are you in your community? 
  • Describe your educational background.
  • Describe your employment background and career trajectory over the past 10 years.
  • Have you ever been in therapy for anything?
  • Have you ever had a problem abusing substances or with any other addictions?  
  • What significant losses have you experienced in your life?
  • How do you handle grief and sadness?
  • How do you handle conflicts? 
  • Tell me about your parents. How old are they, what do they do, how involved are they in your life right now?
  • How was your relationship with your parents growing up, and how is it now?
  • How did your parents discipline you, and how do you plan to discipline?
  • What was your parents marriage like, and what is your marriage like?
  • What was communication like with your parents as you were growing up? How do you and your spouse communicate now? 
  • Describe each of your parents in 3 words. 
  • What are some of your fondest memories of childhood?
  • How did you and your spouse meet?
  • When did you know and what made you realize that this was the person you wanted to marry?
  • What are the strengths of your marriage?
  • When you disagree or have an argument, what does that look like?
  • Do you have a fairly egalitarian marriage?
  • Tell me about your closest friends. 
  • How much experience do you have with children? 
  • Have you thought about how having a second child (since we already have 1) will change your routine and lifestyle?
  • Will there need to be any changes in your childcare plans after the adoption?
  • Do you have any concerns about how your child will react to having another baby in the house? 
  • Describe your child's personality. What is your day-to-day with him like? What are his interactions like with other children?
  • Should anything happen to you, who have you designated (or who do you plan to designate) as a guardian for your children?
Home inspection:
Since we don't have a pool or weapons, our home inspection was very quick and easy. She had us show her around the house and point out which bedroom we would turn into a second child's room. She wanted to see where we kept our fire extinguisher, cleaning chemicals, and medications. She didn't go through every cabinet and drawer, she just took our word for it. So, if you are worried that you need to reorganize all of your bathroom cabinets to make sure there isn't a stray pill bottle or anything embarrassing anywhere, just relax a bit-- it isn't that thorough! Then she had us test our smoke detectors to make sure they were all working.

Wrapping up:
After the home inspection, she let us know that she was officially approving us (yay!) and let us know what to expect from here. She said that she would write her approval report, which has to be sent to the court system along with all of the background check forms. This means that she can't submit anything to the courts until the background checks come back. Right now, there is a 4-6 week waiting period (I got online to do a status check and ours haven't even been entered into the system yet, nearly 2 weeks after submission), and then there is another 6-8 week waiting period for the court system. So, it will probably be 2-3.5 months before we will actually be eligible to be matched. But, she did say that their agency got a lot of young women who were later in their pregnancy (like 7 months along or later-- some due in just a couple of weeks!). She said that two of the couples that she did a homestudy for less than 8 months ago had a post-placement visit coming up this next week.

She told us to be working on our book (I'll do a post on that later), and said that she would check with the agency to see if we could go ahead and start working on our agency application since she had approved us-- yes, it is an entirely separate thing from our homestudy application-- while we were waiting on court approval. She also said that we would receive a copy of our homestudy report after she wrote it, just for our own records and so that we could send it to any other agencies we might also want to apply to.


So, now we wait! 

Are you worried that you might fail your homestudy? Read about the 7 most common reasons for denying a homestudy approval here: Could I fail my homestudy?

Do you have any questions about the homestudy that weren't addressed in this post? Leave me a question in the comments section and I will try to answer it for you! 

14 comments:

  1. Thank you! The information you have provided will allow me to sleep easier tonight. The anxiety is through the roof. I had been searching for answers on the home study process and finally found your blog. I wish you all the best:) and thanks again.

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  2. Thank you for the kind comment! I'm so glad that someone is actually finding this helpful! :) Best of luck with your homestudy!

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  3. My agency is doing things in a different order than yours, but we begin the first "official home study interview" tomorrow. I really appreciate you proc this information online!

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  4. great information, my homestudy is scheduled for Thurs so we are nervous! LOL

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    1. Good luck! I'm glad you found helpful information here :)

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  5. Thank you so much for writing your blogs. I would have never thought about a fire extinguisher....

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  6. Thank you so much for writing your blogs. I would have never thought about a fire extinguisher....

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  7. Thank you so much for writing your blogs. I would have never thought about a fire extinguisher....

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  8. Thank you so much for writing your blogs. I would have never thought about a fire extinguisher....

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    1. There's lots of little things that I wouldn't have thought of before we went through it, ourselves... that's why I thought that sharing the information might be useful in the first place! :) Glad you have enjoyed reading!

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  9. Hi Jess! Thank you so much for posting this for everyone, I know I appreciate it! How is the process going for you now?

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    1. I just found your update, so never mind...lol! I'm so happy for you and your family.

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  10. Thank you so much for all of the information on your blog. My husband and I are just starting the adoption process and your posts are so informative and helpful! Xo

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  11. this was very helpful! thank you... I'm just starting out the process myself and am very excited to get everything rolling! Thank you for all your tips, they were helpful!

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