Well. First things first, I have done a TERRIBLE job of finishing my home study class Part II and Part III posts. I will get them up, but in the meantime, there have been some developments.
So on Monday, I mentioned that we'd been assigned to our social worker. I've been keeping a timeline of sorts to keep track of all these exciting milestones, so we have our trajectory through this process for ourselves and also to help us tell the story to our beautiful, materializing-from-the-ether FutureBaby.
I have had to add a LOT to the timeline in the past two weeks.
Last Thursday, we received the call that we had been assigned to a social worker. We were told to expect a call by the end of the following week to start scheduling the visits. Based on what I know can happen with scheduling from other people and just life in general, I expected to have the visits scheduled by July, and to have our homestudy report completed by August. We haven't started our profile book because this was our expectation -- that maybe we could be lucky and be homestudy approved by July, but more likely it would be by August or even September.
We received our call from our social worker on Tuesday, June 9. And our visits were scheduled starting TODAY, Saturday, 6/13. She is speedy, she is personable, and I have this feeling that our report will be done A LOT sooner than we had anticipated.
Which means some really, really great things -- we can be approved and waiting sooner! We don't have to torture ourselves for weeks gearing up for the "scary" visits! We can get this over and done with! We will most likely be waiting parents before the summer is even remotely out!
But also, some very, very stressful things -- we felt initially that we didn't have enough time to adequately ready the house... we felt a little underprepared in general...and this new timeline is downright terrifying. Our profile book needs to get started. Our little room needs to be completely revamped so that, you know, there's an uncovered heat/AC vent that provides a somewhat necessary supply of climate-controlled air, which means the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves Bryce built need to come out, which means that ginormous number of books needs a place to go, and the walls need fixing and repainting and the floor is damaged from the cat water that apparently overflowed while the kitchen was being done and sat under the rug that protected the floor from our gross cat's butt scooting and the cat hair needs to be vacuumed up and we need new windows because our second greyhound ate the windowsill of one and it doesn't stay open anymore and I can't breathe because there's just so much to do all of a sudden in a very short period of time.
STOP. Breathe in, breathe out, slow it down, just...BREATHE.
It's a little more than a little daunting. Good practice for letting go and letting things happen as they may and not holding too tightly to imaginary timelines, right? I just really wanted to have that profile book done simultaneously with the home study report being done. And THAT is a topic for a whole other post... I have a process in mind for designing it and I don't think it will take too terribly long, but it's kind of an important piece of things to rush through just for the sake of meeting a deadline that I, in my infinite wisdom, MADE UP.
Our first home study visit was today. There are three-- me by myself, Bryce by himself, and then us together and the home tour combined.
Here are things the social worker told us we absolutely did NOT have to worry about:
- the house does not have to be spotless
- the fact that our dining room isn't painted and the wall is peeling from the water damage is of absolutely no consequence.
- she just has to see the bedrooms, check for safety issues, and make sure we have indoor plumbing that is functional.
- she is just making sure that we are who we said we were in our paperwork and our extensive autobiographies, clarifying a few things, asking a few additional questions.
Here is what we absolutely DID worry about:
- We had very little notice, so we spent Thursday and Friday nights cleaning like mad. Because even though that's apparently not important, and there's no getting all the drywall dust up that keeps surfacing even though the kitchen is done, it made US feel better to have a nice clean house. We didn't go crazy though.
- We did light candles, because with the kitties being cooped up in the little room during the kitchen fiasco during the day, it did smell a bit like cat in the house. And this incessant monsoon season also has the house smelling a bit musty and camp-like. We really didn't want her to walk in and think, "Is that eau de mold-and-cat-shit I smell?"
- We did put our adoption binder and Adoptive Parent Education Manual on the table, as well as a couple of adoption books (and my People magazine, so it didn't seem utterly staged). Not so much to kiss ass, but in case we needed any of those things. Lori, if you're out there, I chose The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption as my book of choice, because it was so awesome and would be a great example of us using our resources.
- We did NOT hide our bar. We have a lot of good-quality spirits and bitters and liqueurs, because we like a good cocktail every now again. And, as my best friend has said, "You even DRINK in the nerdiest of ways." So I was a little worried about the breadth of booze sitting on our buffet, but felt it would be dishonest to replace it with a bowl of oranges or something. We have not a whole lot of responsibilities right now, and so mixing drinks on occasion for ourselves or with friends should not be an issue. And it wasn't. I don't think. See? It's impossible to not worry about all the things that are open to scrutiny, but I feel as long as we're honest and explain our enjoyment vs a means to voiding out life, then we're good.
- We did have WXXI classical playing, because that's what we'd normally have on on a Saturday. That or Kat Edmondson/Madeleine Peyroux/Frank Sinatra, not sure which one makes us sound more old and dusty!
- We did offer her coffee.
- We did vacuum the cat hair off the couch, which is good because a) she sat on it and b) she's allergic.
She implored us not to be nervous on the phone and again in person when she arrived, but how can you not be? However, it really wasn't that nerve-wracking at all. As someone who has utilized therapy to get through a variety of crises, it didn't seem all that different from a first meeting with a counselor who wants to get your context. A lot of questions relating to family of origin, coping mechanisms, first marriage, and general grace-in-crisis and are-you-able-to-persevere type things. What has shaped you as a person? And so on. We talk more about our "courtship" when we have our second visit, and our relationship, and our journey to adoption, and our thoughts on parenthood and discipline. That should be a fun conversation. I'm trying to get the image of the movie Green Card out of my head, where they meet separately and then together and it's all brought down because either Andie McDowell or Gerard Depardieu doesn't know what color the other's toothbrush is. (I feel so old for making that reference... it wasn't even a great movie but it stuck with me as what I originally thought home study visits would be like.) I think we can handle a conversation about how we envision parenthood. And both our toothbrushes are white Sonicare, I have the grey ring and he has the blue one. I think. Oh NO! It's all over...
I have to say, initially I was terrified. Like, fake-vomiting-buckets-in-front-of-my-colleagues terrified. It seems so scary, having someone in your house, potentially judging you, scrutinizing your choices and habits and past experiences, and looking at your home. But, it wasn't really like that. So far, so good. It's like a conversation with someone who's really interested in what's made you the person you are today. I have to say, when thinking on our ability to handle a crisis, I just want to be like, "Please reference the last five and a half years..." I think we have some practice. Not to say that we know how to handle everything, but I never imagined that we'd have to cope and get through so many things that we did, and I don't feel that we are damaged. We are stronger. Kind of like muscles, you have to rip them and tear them as you build them up. We should be pretty freaking buff right about now.
I will share more after the second visit... I would love to say to you "Don't be scared, it's not that scary in actuality," but it's one of those things I think you have to see for yourself. I was told by several people who have done this very thing that home study visits aren't as big a deal as you psych yourself up for, but it didn't really stop me from hyperventilating. It did help me to be a bit more calm as we cleaned and prepared the house, and to feel like, "okay, this is as good as it gets" and not freak out when we ran out of time, but I was still nervous. And then I wasn't.
We'll see how the next visit goes. Closer and closer, step by step, that blurry shape in the distance is starting to look like a baby, coming here, to our home, to our hearts, to stay.