"You are definitely ready to adopt. Now you are going to be parents."
This meeting was the Home Study Consultation appointment, and it kick-started our home study process. Which, we found out, is the whole kit and kaboodle of paperwork, education, AND the actual home study visits to our home (I always thought that home study JUST meant the visits). So now, we are not just applicants, but we are prospective parents in the home study process, and once that process is done, we are WAITING ADOPTIVE PARENTS!!! It does not seem quite as overwhelming now that we have the timeline, the to-do lists, the full view of what it takes to get to the point where we are being viewed and hopefully selected by expectant or birth parents.
For us, at our agency, the meeting looked like this:
- Any questions before we get started?
- Tell me about your decisions to adopt -- The Infertility part of the story comes up
- Here is the process -- the handing over of the manila folder filled with forms
- Homestudy checklist (all paper and documents needed before an appointment can be scheduled with the separate social worker to do the actual home study visits and report)
- Adoption Agreement (6 pages) read and signed
- Nope, we have no criminal convictions sworn statement
- Nope, we have no firearms in the house sworn statement and if for some reason we build an arsenal, we understand what must be done for children to be safe (yeah, so never building an arsenal)
- drivers licenses and insurance cards copied
- Pay Home Study Fee (first big chunk of dough, but equivalent to what I spent on injectibles in January, so not quite as painful to part with)
- Explanation of the Education component and the 40 credits we must complete
- Five required Home Study Classes, offered as a weekend cluster in Buffalo or Albany, count as 20 credits for both of us.
- 20 additional credits to be obtained by each of us, separately (or together if we attend classes together), including credit for books, for talking with other adoptive parents who have completed the process, for watching videos, for taking infant CPR and baby care classes (thankfully they offer these for adoptive parents, so you're not listening to all the pregos on breaks). Sadly there is a cap on reading books, as at this point I've read 5 1/2. :)
- Handing over of the giant Adoptive Parent Education Manual, with the explanation that the first five tabs are related to the classes and we will need to bring it to our class grouping.
- Any further questions?
- Handshakes, hugs, general admiring of all the pictures of babies and families on the wall and the placement board in the lobby, and then back out into the frigid cold to discuss everything on the hour and fifteen minute drive home.
|There it is, our actual manual for being a parent. Pardon the glare,|
but it worked out fabulously as I wanted to blur out the agency
name and the faces of the adoptive parents on the cover but lack
the know-how to do it. Thank you, snow-sun glare!
Whew! It was about an hour and a half. But the time flew. It felt hopeful. It felt exciting. It also felt overwhelming, as I do not enjoy paperwork in jumbles in a folder. I immediately started brainstorming how to organize all this stuff and make it a process.
Luckily I am a special education teacher, and organizing scads of paperwork into neat systems is my specialty -- especially now, at this time of IEP Annual Reviews. My Annual Review Binder is a thing of beauty, and I wanted to corral everything pretty similarly for this process.
I did some research on Pinterest, and asked one of my friends what she did, binder or file box/accordion. I decided on binder.
And here it is:
|Pretty binder. Even Lucky thinks so. (Little does he know what it means...)|
|Dividers with pockets! Haven't written on the tabs yet,|
because I haven't 100% committed to how all those
glorious sections will be truly organized.
|My pride and joy... they gave me a checklist, but I made|
my own more detailed checklist and LAMINATED it.
Now we can use a wet erase marker to update what's done!
Ahhhhh. I feel SO much better when things are organized. The dividers hold signed copies of paperwork, paperwork to do (such as the daunting background check papers requiring addresses for 28 years!!!), education credit information, copies of receipts, original documents as we corral them and get them ready to be mailed (oh the joys of both being previously married...).
That handy dandy checklist makes me feel better, because I made spaces for when we ordered paperwork, when we filled out forms, what appointments we've made, when things are received, and when things are mailed. Don't be too impressed by all the ink on there, this is a two-sided checklist. I am a firm believer in making to-do lists that already have things on them that you've accomplished--so all the paperwork we signed at the consult meeting is at the top. It is a lightening of the load to put a date next to another piece of the puzzle that must be completed!
Other than this stack of paperwork, we have the classes. Unfortunately, the March classes were full. That was a bummer, as I would love nothing more than to plow through all the requirements to get to the home study visits and ultimately approval to be profiled. The April classes are in Albany, not Buffalo, which is a difference of a few hours and means taking time off of work for both of us, plus potentially driving in the crap weather for longer, plus April is a month with a lot going on. So we're doing the May classes in Buffalo. It sounds so, so far away but in actuality it's less than 3 months. And, we can get all this paperwork done ahead of time so that the classes are the last thing we need in our file before scheduling home study visits. There's just so much information in the classes that I wish we could do them earlier in our process. Oh well, just another reminder that there is still so much out of our control and that we must have peace with the process and any delays/bumps/issues that may come up. I'm sure a delay in taking classes is going to be the least of our bumps in the road, but it sure would be nice if that was it! Har har har.
So, the first meeting is done and wasn't scary at all -- very warm and welcoming. The paperwork is in hand and we are methodically (obsessively) collecting everything and getting a good chunk of it done during February break. So grateful for this space to run around to county and town offices! We are officially IN THE PROCESS, and that is truly exciting.