After lots of thinking and struggling with the idea of whether or not I should write about our journey towards adoption, I decided doing so might not only serve as a journal to capture what we go through during the process – literally, mentally and emotionally, but also help others on the same journey. So, I am writing this blog about our journey towards what we hope is a successful and happy adoption.
I won’t bore you (or myself) with the details of what we’ve gone through these past several years. Trying to conceive naturally – and not so naturally – but suffice it to say that it has been an emotional roller coaster, filled with hopeful highs and lows wrought with despair. As soon as we decided to call it quits with IVF, I felt relief wash over me. We wouldn’t have to go through what we went through over and over – hoping for a happy outcome, only to be viscerally disappointed again and again.
We made our first appointment with an attorney from the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys in August of 2009. We wanted to ask a million questions, figure out the lay of the land, and do further research on whether we should use an attorney or sign on with an adoption agency. After more research and discussions with a few agencies to determine requirements, fees, capabilities and processes, we met with an an adoption caseworker this past December. It was a great meeting and we felt we would be in capable and honest hands, so we officially began our process in February.
Thus far, 2010 has been spent worrying about the home study process, thanks to “things” I have read on the internet (“Oh, it can take up to 6 months due to horrendous amounts of paperwork”, “your home has to be just so”, “social workers ask really intrusive questions” and so on).
An appointment for our first home study visit was made for March 24th. A week later, we received a lengthy list of required documentation to have in place by our first home study visit…the following week! My husband said, “There is no way we’ll be able to get all of this done in a week!” So, I made it a point to tackle that list head on. Crappy paperwork wasn’t going to stop us!
Thankfully, we are pretty organized with our important documents, so lots of things were really quite easy to gather – birth and marriage certificates, pet vaccinations, social security cards and driver’s licenses, and the like. Other items, not so much – employment verification, notarized police clearance from the county sheriff’s office, setting up an appointment for fingerprinting for the background check, asking our doctor to complete some paperwork. All in all, I am here to tell you that the requirements are truly not that terrible. You just need to get things done on that list one by one, be organized, and it will all come together pretty quickly.
To me, the biggest hurdle – time and effort wise – was deciding who we should provide as our references, as they would need to write a letter and send it back to the social worker in a timely manner. They ask for 4 personal references, with only one being a family member.
We felt the references needed to be people who, 1) knew both of us well, obviously, 2) had some frame of reference as to what would make a great parent, 3) would be able to write a letter that depicts their honest feelings in a provocative way, and 4) would actually see this task as a priority in their lives at the present time, so that they would not be tempted to procrastinate and sit on the request until a creative bolt of lightning would strike.
From what I have gathered, much of the time allocated to the tales of lengthy home studies is due to the wait for documents and reference letters to be returned. I didn’t want this to become a bottleneck for us. So, I must confess, the project manager in me came out in a big way. I made calls to our references, politely reminding them that this was a time sensitive task, and please, pretty please with a cherry on top could they respond thoughtfully and quickly. And they did, every last one of ’em!
Then came the struggle with whether or not I should share the fact that we were beginning the adoption process with my employer. I feared it could “hold me back” from the opportunity for more responsibility, and more money, at work – although I am sure that wouldn’t be the case in this day and age. Deep down, I didn’t want to keep this very important journey a secret from the people I work closely with – then again, could I be too much of an open book for my own good? I decided to share it with my manager and a couple of colleagues, and, thankfully, was met with pure joy and sincere excitement – albeit premature – for our decision.
I am going to leave off here and will soon share more on how our first home study visit went. I would love to hear from those of you who have gone through, or are going through the same thing – this blog is meant for you, as well.