Not a lot of time to be posting as my semester continues to ramp up in intensity before I graduate. But just a quick update as to how this is going along:
As I have said before, our home study process has taken a lot longer to go through than we had originally intended for many reasons – new jobs, sick pets, family tragedies and so on. This has given us time to constantly recommit to the process of adoption.
This also means some of our paperwork is now too old.
D and I had hoped that we’d be done in 4-5 months. We’re pushing 9 months. That means our police clearances and medical reports are now getting a little too old to be used for a home study, let alone our South Africa dossier. While our social worker finishes writing up our home study (the last meeting went wonderfully, btw), we are resubmitting for clearances this weekend and working to meet with our PCP soon after. But that is it and then we can put in our application to US Custom and Immigration Services for international adoption approval.
This is a little complicated because D was supposed to be in Asia for work originally on Monday, then next Sunday, and now possibly the Sunday after that instead. It may be that he does not go at all, but the confusion and constant changes of dates makes it hard to arrange for paperwork that needs official signatures and what not. But there is an end in sight and we should have our dossier in South Africa no later than this summer!
Our second home study visit was over this past weekend. D and I tidied up the main floor a bit and talked over our views on adoption again as sort of a preparation to meeting with our new social worker. We were both nervous – I do not think I have wanted someone to like me this badly since I met D’s parents for the first time. I made up for my jitters by being extra smiley and bubbly like I do, but really, in the end, I am decently sure we made a good impression. She was certainly enthusiastic and we were happy to hear that she would be our social worker for the whole duration of our adoption (that means even after placement as we send back reports to South Africa on how our family is doing).
Was it anywhere as terrifying as I thought it would be? No way. It did not feel like an interrogation to me, and the things she asked where not really that much of a surprise for me; D did mention later a couple of questions caught him off guard but they were not too hard to answer. But it was almost fun for me – talker that I am – to share myself and my hopes for a family and why I thought we were a good fit for adoption.
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Once again, we have come upon delays in our adoption process. Our home study originally scheduled for two weeks ago was cancelled at the last minute. By us, not our new social worker or agency, for some very sad circumstances. Right now, D and I are trying to adjust to a new normal that has suddenly been thrust upon us. We are very lucky in our chosen agency and how much they care for us even before we have brought a child home. Our social worker has given us our space while also listening to our wishes that we want to continue with our adoption process.
Our adoption was always a source of hope and happiness even when the paperwork path got a little overwhelming, and it is more now than ever before. Admittedly, both D and I would have loved to schedule a home study immediately, but I’m glad we were encouraged by our social worker to leave a little space for us settle in back at home and at work. We’ve already rescheduled our interviews, which is a great source of relief to me as we inch into month seven of this first step of the process.
What is good right now? We have loving family and friends checking in on us. We have the funds to move forward with the adoption no matter when we are matched. We have been put in contact with local families also adopting from South Africa. We’ve already started collecting paperwork for the dossier since we are so close to the end of the first phase. And our childrens’ room is now under way.
There are bittersweet moments in life, but I am glad for each and every day.
One recommendation I do have for anyone thinking about going through the adoption process in the future is that you will have to let go of your established timelimes. If you are an obssessive scheduler like me, this will make you break down on occasion. Or maybe more frequently.
I have said before on this blog that I had expected to be done with this portion of our adoption process so many, many months ago. Seven weeks earlier I was telling myself there was absolutely no way we would not be done with our home study by early January and working on our international dossier.
I laugh to keep from crying at my continued naivety.
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First batch of paperwork is done, which means our first step is almost done. We eventually got off our behinds and finished the last of our paperwork to turn in prior to home study. Everything has been accepted by the agency and is currently awaiting review by our social worker. Once she has gone over it, we will schedule our last two home study meetings and then wait for home study approval before moving on to the international portion of this process (eep).
Since we’re so close to “Batch Two” of the endless paperwork, we have been reviewing what will need doing while we await on adoption approval from US Customs and Immigation Services. There is a long list, I may post tomorrow. It’s even more daunting that this first batch because South Africa demands (and rightly so) a lot of verification. They are entrusting us with a child to raise, and therefore we will march across this great nation (read: drive around the city and mail out to my home state) for all the ceritified and apostiled paperwork they desire.
So now we wait for a home study date and pray it’ll happen before D heads out of country for his work. He will be out and about over the next couple of months, leaving me on my lonesome to cuddle bunnies and keep my nose to the grind as I finish graduate school. With a little luck, we will hopefully have our dossier in country before I walk, cap and gown, in May!
This weekend D and I attended our first training session for our adoption. Our local agency requires 10 hours for all home studies. They prefer that as much of the training as possible be done in-person vs. online seminars, which are also available. We would also like to do our training in person because we can ask more questions, hear back from other prospective adoption parents, etc. The local agency warned us that their international-specific classes tend to get cancelled due to low enrollment, but did recommend a toddler-centric class since that is the age range we’re looking to be approved for. We enrolled immediately and got quite a bit out of it.
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Labor Day is tomorrow. Most folks around us are gearing up to attend festivals, go to pool parties and barbecues. Wish we could say the same, but we have dedicated this weekend to a labor of love instead.
We have spent the whole of the last two days indoors working on the basement that we still have not finished. We have most of the basement painted. Our special-order flooring will go down starting tonight or tomorrow morning, depending on our energy. All the physical labor is beginning to wear us down, but as we get closer to finishing our paperwork and thus closer to our home study, we need to buckle down.
When you are adopting, you obsess about how perfect your house needs to be for someone to allow you to bring a child into your home. Are they going to look at my dingy baseboard? Just how much dust is acceptable? Should the social worker be able to detect the scent of organic disinfectants like citrus and vinegar? I am already overly bad about obsessively cleaning before guests come over. D had learned after five years of living together that the two hours prior to a visit, I am going to be bustling about like the Tasmanian devil putting things away and wiping down every surface in reach. The 24 hours before our home study will be interesting, but I’m sure D will survive my madness.
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We were assigned our social worker a week after we submitted our application for adoption with the local agency. The list of documentation needed has also been unlocked for us to work on. According to the agency, our social worker will be contacting us soon for a first meeting and to go over the paperwork with us to make sure we understand the disclosure and the process for inspections, etc. Seems simple enough, right? I hope so.
The schedule, we have been told, is that after our first meeting we will need to complete our documentation before we are scheduled for our second and third home studies with the social worker. At that time, we will also be paying our home study fee. The only question I have here, which hopefully will be answered in the first meeting, is whether we just need to finish our part of the paperwork or whether all of the paperwork must be completed in full (meaning paperwork with the county, CPS, FBI, and other third parties).
Brief list of what we have been given to work on
- Child Protective Clearances (State Police, FBI, and another CPS agency in Europe due to a study abroad)
- Personal Documents (Birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.)
- Extended Family Information
- Physician’s Report
- Statement of Net Worth
- State Motor Vehicle Records
- Emergency Preparedness Plan (In case of natural disasters, etc. requiring evacuation)
- Home Safety Checklist
- Fire Safety Report (Done by local fire department)
- Sanitation Report (Done by local county government)
- Guardianship Statement (In case of our passing)
- References (Three references required)
- Miscellaneous Disclosures
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