I’m a researcher and an organizer, so what wasn’t daunting to me in the adoption process was getting paperwork completed, checking things off a list, and finding an adoption agency that worked best for my husband and I. What scared me the most was the home study.
When we began writing our story for individuals making an adoption plan, I felt more self-assured than I did when we began to fill out documents about our childhood, our family, our relationship with each other, etc.
I read every article (take my word for it, there are a LOT) on home studies and quizzed everyone I knew who had completed one. I cleaned my house from top to bottom. My husband spoke to the fire department and got (probably one too many) professional-grade fire extinguishers. We planned ahead with the social worker who was traveling from afar to ensure we had lunch for her. I even baked so that my house would smell cozy while I stress ate brownies and worried.
It is incredibly humbling to have someone look closely at your life and your home, but when you’ve already been through a lengthy and emotional process to adopt, it can also cause anxiety that you don’t expect to feel. Though I’m typically very confident, I was nervous. (Like the sweaty kind of nervous).
When our social worker arrived, she interviewed my husband and me together and then separately. The questions we were asked separately were so specific but so eye-opening about parenting. Though I was expecting critical questions, they were more about asking why I loved my own childhood. In fact, I became quite emotional talking about time I spent with my grandparents, and the social worker talked about ways I could facilitate a relationship like that with my child and my own parents.
After a quick tour of our house to assess if we had met the requirements (fire extinguishers, check!), our social worker left. Though still a little apprehensive until the final approval came through, we felt much better.
In all honesty, this is one of the experiences I remember the most fondly from the adoption process. I was pushed to think more about what makes a great parent than what I was doing. It’s not just a clean house, meeting requirements on a checklist, and being able to bake brownies. It’s facilitating relationships to ensure your child has other people in his or her corner, reflecting on who you are and what experiences in your childhood made you a better adult, and doing the best you can to provide for a child.
At our follow up visit, this time with a baby in the house, I told the social worker about my initial apprehension to which she replied, “We don’t want anyone to fail. We are here to help you succeed. We want children to be placed in homes.”
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