Category Archives: Home Study Process

We are officially eligible to adopt!

Happy news! Our home study has been completed and approved and we are officially eligible to adopt a baby!  We are really excited, and now must focus our attention to creating our photo book so the agency can share it with prospective birth moms.

Also very important, we need to start “networking” in an attempt to locate birth moms on our own.  This is the part that feels most awkward, right now. Adoption is such a personal journey –  for adoptive parents, birth parents  and the adopted child.  To “network” with family, friends and colleagues and tell them you are hoping to adopt by saying, “Hey, if you hear of anything, please be sure to let us know” seems so strange and foreign – simply BECAUSE it is such an important and life-changing piece of information you are communicating. It’s a a birth mother and child we’re talking about here,  not a used car.

While we feel strange approaching the search for a birth mom in such an informal Web 2.0 way, we have been told by the agency that most birth parents are found by the adoptive parents through word of mouth and networking.  You, know how it is, “you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…”   So, that is what we need to do.

Coming from a marketing, communications and social media background, I  thought it would be a good idea to start this blog.  It’s a way we can journal the process and exchange info and ideas with other prospective adoptive parents going through the same thing. We can also share updates on our journey with friends and family, and maybe – just maybe – reach a birth mother.

The Waiting Continues

I have waited to post an update that actually shares information about the next step in our journey.  I am sorry to say that we are at a standstill, anxiously awaiting the first draft of our home study.

On another note, does anyone happen to know, once you have a completed home study, whether prospective adoptive couple can list themselves with more than one attorney/agency to widen the net?  Are there adoption attorneys out there that do not require a retainer fee? If anyone has answers to these questions, your thoughts and  advice would be greatly appreciated.

Getting close to a completed adoption home study

At last, we have completed our third – and hopefully final – adoption home study visit.  Not that the visits were painful or difficult by any means, as our social worker was friendly and very kind. Her visits were actually enjoyable and interesting and we shared some good laughs.  We discussed everything under the sun as she took constant notes:

  • She asked about our childhoods, parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family,  and how we were disciplined;
  • She wanted to learn what is was like to grow up in our households, what our families were (and are) like, what we were into in school, and what did for fun;
  • She asked about how we met, what attracted us to each other, what our marriage is like, what we currently do for fun, what our routine is like, and asked us about the qualities we felt our partner possessed that would them a  great parent;
  • She wanted to know what we felt we have to offer a child, what traits and qualities we felt are important to instill in our child.

The list goes on and on, among the above were also the hard core basics, a resume of sorts, outlining our respective work and education histories, going over major life events, and what our plans were for our work schedules once we have a child.

She needed to come back a third time to go over some final questions, as she needed to make sure her report would reflect all of the details found in our corresponding paperwork. Plus, she needed to fill in a few minor factual holes in her typed report – like birth dates of extended family and the names of our local schools.

Now, we need to wait for her to send us a final draft to review for correctness.  Once our review is done and the updates have been made, our home study will be complete.  At that point, we will officially be eligible to adopt!

The next part of the process will be to create a photo book to show to prospective birth moms. This book will allow the birth mother and father to learn about us, our family and what the child’s life would be like with us as adoptive parents. Creating this book feels like one of the most important projects we will ever have to work on, as it will influence a birth mother’s decision to choose us, and that is big.  Hence, the procrastination over what photos to choose, what captions to write, and the big one– writing our “Dear Birth Mother” letter to place at the beginning of our book.

We have heard that Snapfish and Shutterfly have great programs that allow you to create the photo book, so, we are looking into their capabilities and the pros and cons of each site.  Ideally, our book needs to be ready when our home study has been completed – supposedly by late May. So, that’s the next big thing for us.

Are you going through the same process? I’d love to hear from you all.  Tips, thoughts, ideas and recommendations are welcome!

Every adoption journey begins with a single step…or two…or three…or a thousand

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.