Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Home Study vs Home Study Update

Preparing for your initial home study visits can be stressful. For us, we knew sort of what to expect, in theory...having read a lot about it and pinned tons of things to Pinterest and done practice runs of typical home study interview questions. We did not, however, know who our social worker would be or in what direction the conversation would go. Would it matter that we were both previously married? Would it matter that our infertility journey was crazy? Would we be seen as "good enough?" Did we need fire extinguishers everywhere and proof of a fire evacuation plan? How clean did our house really have to be? We read over and over that it didn't have to be a "white glove test," that really they were just looking at safety and health and reasonable space for a baby and the purely necessary things that accompany one, but how do you not scour your house in case hairs on the floor of your bathroom could tip the scales towards an unfavorable report?

None of those turned out to be logical worries, not really. We had our original visits, and after the first individual meetings (first me, then Bryce) we felt SO MUCH MORE at ease with the process. Our social worker was super low-key and genuinely interested in our lives and our aspirations to parent. It was a non-judgy atmosphere. She loved our home and our story. It was a positive experience.

Going into our joint visit we were more at ease, and so it felt more like a conversation, which is really what a home study visit turns out to be -- talking about your history, your childhood and how you were parented, your marriage, your attempts thus far to become parents, your vision for parenthood. Your expectations (realistic or not) for adoption. Your awareness of all the complex issues inherent in adoption, from fostering a healthy open adoption to working through grief and loss in your child of their first family, even if that loss occurred within minutes to hours of birth.

We left our first home study experience feeling like even though you would never ever believe anyone that it is not a big deal before experiencing it yourself, that it truly was almost a pleasant experience. We got to talk about our origins as people, as a couple, and as parents. It made us have tough conversations to prep but then to know where we are completely on the same page and where we have differences that aren't huge at all, just different. It's a process I firmly believe to be beneficial for any waiting parent, no matter what the means of family building, but one that's only legally required for adoption.

Fast forward a year...and we needed to update our home study. Which meant redoing all of the scads of paperwork (still not a convict, check! still no TB, check! still gainfully employed, check! still spending more money on books than clothes, check check check!), but also having another home visit, with the same social worker.

I wanted to be chill about it all, since we knew what to expect, but I still spent all of today cleaning like crazy, using up a zillion joules of electricity vacuuming everything from the carpets to the couch to the walls where pesky cobwebs had been giving me the side-eye for weeks... scrubbing down toilets and sinks and dusting baseboards. I did NOT, however, clear all surfaces. I left piles of books on the coffee table and files on my desk, and one tiny pile of mail and magazines on the dining room table. It had to look like people (okay fine, ME, Bryce would eradicate piles entirely given the chance) actually lived here, too.

I dusted the tiny rocking chair in our nursery, and felt a little sad.

Because no one actually WANTS to do a home study update. It means you weren't placed in that first year. It's common, but still disappointing. You hope to do your home study and then have the next visit from a social worker be your first post-placement visit. It lies on the side of bittersweet.

We are lucky, though. We love our social worker. She made this visit like a conversation with an old friend, where we explained how our profile opportunities went and how we've continued educating ourselves and what new things have been accomplished/explored/discussed in the past year with regards to adoption. our careers, our home, and our health. We showed her our profile book, and our nursery -- both things that weren't completed the last time she was here. It lasted a little over an hour, and then was done.

Now we wait for our report to come in, and to be recertified for another year of being eligible adoptive parents just waiting for that Just-Right Call to come in. We hope not to be doing another update in a year...we hope that this is the last visit that doesn't involve checking in on how we're adjusting to parenting a newborn with very little notice comparatively speaking. But if it does...we know how it goes, and it will be fine.

May the cobwebs have a chance to thrive because we're too busy caring for our infant to vacuum the walls before our post-placement visits.

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad the update went well. Even though it is bittersweet to be doing this. But you sound relaxed about the process and the meeting sounded very good. So lots of good things.

    May those cobwebs be accumulating next year.

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    1. Thank you so much -- I hope the cobwebs stare me down again. It is good to have it done, to have another thing checked off the list.

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  2. Sounds like it went well. Praying this is your last home study and that you will soon be presented with a wonderful opportunity. :)

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    1. Thank you, that is our hope, too! Somewhere, there is a very special baby waiting for just the right moment to make him or herself known.

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  3. Glad the update went well! Sounds like you have a great social worker. Hopefully this will indeed be the last update and the cobwebs will be ignored in favor of caring for a little one.

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    1. We really, really do! I enjoy her personality and laid-back-ness so much, because it really sets a relaxed tone. Thank you for your thoughts and your hopes...those are my hopes too. :)

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  4. Of course it went well. I wonder how many couples have a pile maker and a pile eliminator? I hate piles, we would have nothing BUT piles if it was up to Mr Turtle.

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    1. Thank you! I felt that way too, that it would go well, but it's such a stressful thing. Someone wished us luck and I was like, "but luck has so little to do with it, and if you're a basically responsible good human not living in squalor you'll do fine," but it's hard to put into words I guess. And yes -- I bet that's a common dichotomy, the piler and the clear-surface person. It's actually in my wedding vows. Although I was sneaky and called it "making pile management a priority" -- which doesn't mean ELIMINATING them per se, just MANAGING them, having fewer in fewer places. HA. :)

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  5. I was laughing about your still not being a convict nor having TB. I remember bristling having to be fingerprinted again, as if my fingerprint had changed.

    You know, Jess, your ability to take this all in stride, to feel things deeply and to still find the lightness to it -- that's really special. I'm sure that comes through loud and clear not only to your case worker but also to the readers of your profile <3.

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    1. We hope that our take on all this comes through... if you can't laugh, well then the other options just aren't as fun. We fortunately did not have to be fingerprinted again, but that TB test kills me every time. I WORK IN A SCHOOL, for heaven's sakes! I can't have or be any of those things ANYWAY! :)

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