Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Case Worker Phone Call

     We had our first phone call with our caseworker this morning. The way that the agency we have matched through works is that we as the PAPs have a caseworker that is separate from Anne's caseworker. I talked to Anne's caseworker the day that we found out that we matched (she is the one who called me), and I have been emailing with her back and forth. So, today was the first real conversation we had with our caseworker. The phone call ended up being just over an hour, and focused on 4 main topics.

1) Preparing for our first phone call with Anne/ Questions we have about her
        We were given some additional information about Anne's personality and communication style. This was actually a very helpful conversation, because we were able to find out what topics were sensitive or triggering for her-- obviously topics that would be best for her to bring up rather than us asking questions that would venture into those areas. The caseworker also asked us if there were any subjects that we would like to make sure aren't discussed during this first conversation so that she could intervene if something came up that we weren't comfortable with. She gave us some great tips on ways to word questions and how to help the conversation have a more natural flow. One thing that she said that I really liked was to ask her "Would you like for us to tell you more about _____________?" rather than to just start talking about something about ourselves. She said that this takes the pressure off of Anne for having to come up with questions for us, but also opens the door for her to say "Well actually, I had kind of wondered about _________" if she isn't especially interested in the topic we had proposed.
        The plan right now is for us to have phone calls with Anne every other week, and those may increase to every week as we get closer to her due date. All phone calls will be conference style and our case workers will both be on the line. This provides a layer of safety for everyone-- if there is something that Anne is having a hard time with that she doesn't want to talk about on a specific day, she can let her case worker know so that the pressure is not on her to turn us down if we start to go towards that topic. Or, if either of us were to be confused or hurt by something that was said, there are two other objective parties who heard the conversation who can help diffuse the situation and help navigate how to clarify any misunderstandings.
         We also had the chance to ask some questions about Anne that would be significant to the situation but that we weren't sure if she would want us to bring up personally with her. One big topic in this area was the issue of naming the baby. We were curious if Anne had mentioned that it would be important to her to be involved in the naming process, or if she had anything that she wanted to incorporate. This was on our minds because in one of the other situations that we had applied to, it was incredibly important to the biomom that she be allowed to choose the name. Obviously, this is a topic that could be sensitive or that could make her feel put on the spot, so we thought it would be a good idea to ask the case worker if it had come up at all. We also had some questions about her current living situation, if she and the baby's father were together or broken up right now, if he would ever want to be involved in a phone call, and some other minor things.
        This was honestly the most helpful part of the entire phone call, because it helped us feel confident that we won't create an uncomfortable situation during that first conversation. We feel like we have some direction in what we should talk to her about and how to have a lighthearted conversation while still allowing her to get to know us better.

2) Various legal issues
           There wasn't too much in this category, as these issues have already been discussed both in the paperwork we received and in our emails. The biggest thing she went over was the laws about exchange of goods and money in Anne's state. Their state doesn't cap gifts, but no money or assistance with living expenses can change hands between us and her. This is significant in our situation because Anne has a birthday before her due date, and we had mentioned that we would like to send her some type of gift. Apparently, their state views any gift-card to a store that sells everyday essentials as "living expenses," so we wouldn't be able to give her a gift card for Target or Walmart, for example. But, we could give a gift card for a movie theater or restaurant or clothing store, or we could give an actual gift without having to get it approved. The agency asks that you tell them what you are giving, but it doesn't require court approval or anything.
          She also reviewed the laws about the waiting period before signing TPR and the revocation period in Anne's state. We talked a bit about the bio-dad and his involvement (he is totally supportive of the adoption), and where he fits into the whole thing legally in terms of the paperwork and TPR.

3) The chain of communication
            There isn't much of anything interesting to talk about here, it was mainly who to get in touch with for various questions. When do we call our caseworker, when do we call Anne's caseworker, etc.

4) What we need to know about placement and post-placement
           Finally, we talked about hospital stuff and ICPC issues.  Anne hasn't put together a hospital plan yet in terms of when she would like for us to get there, if she would like me in the delivery room, etc, so there wasn't much ground to cover there. But, we did talk a bit about hospital policy at the hospital where she is delivering, and her state's regulations about when we are legally considered to have "placement." This part of the conversation left us feeling a bit overwhelmed, because Anne's state is currently very backed up with adoption stuff. They have same court office processing all adoption and foster paperwork, and it is currently an understaffed office, so there has been a slow down recently. Usually, the whole ICPC process takes 10-14 business days, but her state has been taking 12-16 business days just for their half. And, she is due right around the holidays, so "business days" will not necessarily be Monday-Friday. The bottom line is that I may need to plan on being 1,700 miles away from home for a month. Both PAPs only need to be there for the first 72 hours for various paperwork and legal things, and hubby will have to get back to work (getting 3-4 days off on short notice around the holidays is going to be a big deal, as it is), so I will just plan on an extended vacation (thankfully she lives in a pretty cool area!) with a toddler and brand-new newborn, and hopefully a grandparent or two here and there so I can sleep at some point! :) It will certainly be an interesting winter!


  1. Hi, I just finished reading your entire blog and I'm so happy that I found it. I'm interested to know how you found the lawyer websites with the "situations" posted.

    1. Here is a post with a link to multiple sites that give available situations: