I forgot how traumatic the adoption home study is.
I guess I blocked it out. Maybe once I held my son and knew he was ours, all those memories vanished from my mind.
But we are right back in the thick of it.
And I hate it. To the point of tears.
I’m just glad my child is asleep right now, because the expletives that are slipping from my lips are not appropriate for him to hear. Especially at this age where he parrots almost everything we say.
I thought I was prepared for this. I interviewed (as best I could) multiple agencies to assess which one’s process would be the smoothest, shortest, and least expensive.
I felt more educated. After all, we’ve done this before.
Most of the time, if you adopt more than once, you would use the same agency to handle your home study for subsequent adoptions. And they would do it for a discounted rate. Unfortunately for us, the agency we used the first time around filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors about a year ago.
We are starting over from square one.
So what exactly is the home study and why am I so upset about it?
The home study is an extensive, invasive process effectively designed to make sure we are fit to be parents, that we’re not criminals, and that we don’t leave drugs and guns lying around the house for kids to play with.
It’s a long, somewhat tedious list of tasks we have to complete. It starts with mountains of forms, paperwork, and questionnaires we have to complete, along with free-form narratives we have to write about ourselves and our lives.
We are required to get background checked, fingerprinted, have physicals, get TB tested. Multiple letters of recommendation are required from neighbors, family, friends, etc. We must provide copies of our birth and marriage certificates, our DMV records, sign criminal record disclosures, give detailed reports of our income and finances, and provide tax returns.
We need to provide the vaccination records for our dog!
We need to take online parenting courses and watch videos.
And last but not least, we will have extensive interviews with a social worker. She will come to our house to inspect our home and neighborhood. She’ll observe us interact with our son.
She will talk to both me and my husband individually and together. She’ll ask intimate questions about our family and household, our pasts, our mental health, our sex life, how we handle conflict, how we plan to discipline.
Once that is all done, it will take a few weeks for a formal report to be written up, then we review and sign off on it before we can officially be considered “approved” to bring another child into the home.
Can you imagine if anyone who wanted to have a baby had to go through all this before bringing a child into the world?
Here’s what started to make my blood boil tonight.
As I started going to through some of the seemingly endless forms and documents we need to complete and/or sign, I ran across things like…
The guardians we’ve chosen to raise our children in the unlikely event of our death or incapacity have to complete and sign a form asking invasive questions about their health and income. What difference does it make?? I don’t feel it’s any of my business, let alone the home study agency’s. And their signatures have to be witnessed by a notary.
This particular agency requires 6 character references. Six! And it’s a three-page questionnaire we have to ask people to complete.
The physical form (that must be completed by a doctor) requires a urine test measuring, among other things, how much sugar is in our urine. Again, what difference does it make??
Oh, and that physical report completed by your doctor damn well better have those test results attached!
So let’s say I weigh 400 lbs and live on Mountain Dew. Is that grounds for saying we aren’t fit to be parents? Would the home study not be approved?
You better believe I’d be suing someone for discrimination. Biological parents live like that all the time.
And I can’t wait until we have the home inspection.
The first time we adopted, we had to completely childproof our home. And child safely locks were not good enough. Things like chemicals, medication, alcohol, knives, all had to be under literal lock and key or stored above 5 feet. I actually fought them on that one… and lost.
First, we didn’t have any children in the home. Second, when we did get a child, it was going to be a newborn who wouldn’t be mobile for quite some time.
Why did we have to childproof our home for a baby we didn’t have, who wouldn’t be mobile for a number of months once we did get him/her?
It didn’t matter.
What all of this suggests to me is that adoptive parents somehow can’t figure out this parenting stuff the way biological parents do. We need our hands held. We need someone to tell us what to do.
They tell us how to discipline. No spanking or you won’t pass your home study. They tell us we have to vaccinate, or we won’t pass our home study. They tell me how to arrange my kitchen, or that I have to lock up the Neosporin in my bathroom, or we won’t pass our home study.
And it reopens the wound of infertility. It makes me feel that I am somehow less than because I couldn’t biologically produce a child.
I didn’t choose infertility.
But what can we do?
We rearrange our kitchen to put chemicals, cleaning products, vitamins and medications, and our knives on high shelves in upper cabinets.
We lock up the Neosporin in our bathroom. Yes, that was a specific item we were told had to be inaccessible. (My husband and I still joke about that one to this day.) But nail polish remover and hair spray were okay under the bathroom sink.
We put a padlock on our wine fridge. We moved paint cans to upper shelves in the garage.
We completely childproofed our house for the baby that we didn’t have, didn’t know when we’d be getting, and who wouldn’t be getting into anything for quite some time.
What do we do?
We keep moving forward.
My son fell asleep on the couch tonight. They are so innocent and vulnerable when they are asleep. When my husband picked him up to transfer him upstairs, he brought him over to me for a good night kiss.
As I looked at his sweet, beautiful face and kissed his smooth, flawless cheek, I reminded myself…
He was worth it.