As I mentioned the other day, we had our first home study appointment on Tuesday. It is exciting to have finally moved out of the paperwork phase of this journey and into something a bit more substantive. I was happy that our social worker scheduled that first visit just a few days after our initial phone call, and also to hear that she expects to be done with the home study within six weeks. With the slow pace of so many things related to adoption, I was happy to hear that this phase could move along in a reasonable amount of time.
The home study is the evaluation of us as prospective adoptive parents. Our social worker from our home study agency (The Barker Foundation) will review the paperwork we submitted, meet with us a total of four times, and ultimately prepare a document that describes who we are, why we want to adopt, and make any evaluations as to our fitness as parents. This document will go to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and will be used in that agency’s determination of whether we may bring an international orphan home. It will also be sent to Ethiopia, and that government will use it to determine whether we are fit to adopt a child from that country. The home study is a very important process and document, to say the least.
We met with the social worker for about two hours on Tuesday. We talked about our relationship – how we met, our decisions to get married and later to start a family, the traits in each other that drew us to one another, and so on. It was nice to talk through some important times in our relationship that we may not have reflected on in recent memory. We also talked about our struggles to build a family. I admit to crying a little bit during this discussion, even though I had told myself I wouldn’t. I cry way too easily! Thankfully the social worker understands that the pain of infertility and pregnancy loss is not something that goes away easily. We talked about how challenging and sad the past few years have been for us, but also how we are at peace with most of what we have endured. And of course we talked about how we chose to adopt and how we ended up looking into an Ethiopia adoption.
It was a nice, easy, informal conversation, and I surprised myself by not being nervous at all. I thought I might get a bit anxious over the fact that this stranger is going to tell us whether we will be fit parents or not. But really, I know that we are going to be great parents. I know that we will offer a loving environment, a good home, and a quality life to any child who finds his or her way to us. This is just the formal procedure that we have to go through to get to that point. I really do know in my heart that this will all work out.
In the middle of July, Craig and I will each meet with the social worker for a two-hour individual session with her, and then in early August she will come to our home for a two-hour visit. She will work on writing after each visit and by the middle of August, we should have a draft of the home study to review. The social worker is going to follow up with each of our four references between now and then, and I imagine at that point we’ll see our reference letters as well (we haven’t seen them yet).
On another note, we’ve had a great holiday weekend. The drywall and painting is complete in our basement, we went to a great 4th of July cook-out last night, and we have a tee time later today for our first round of golf this year. The weather has been absolutely delightful this weekend and so unlike typical 4th of July weather in Baltimore. I’m still in my pajamas (at noon) although I’ve already dusted and vacuumed the house and started laundry. I just can’t tear myself away from the men’s Wimbledon finals – what a match so far! (They’re just starting the 5th set as I post this.) Life is good.