first home study visit

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our first home study visit was on Thursday this week. I'm very glad to have finally met the lady that we will be dealing with from now on. Not only will she complete our home study, but she will also be one of only two people who make placements in the agency. So we'll be in contact with her quite a bit given the placement thing and the yearly reviews. Beyond my initial amusement when she explained both her daughter's and granddaughter's personality traits based on their astrological signs, we thought she was really nice. She seems very down-to-earth; I was afraid we would get someone who was really attached to the idea of the "rules" working in the same way for everyone...idealistic about how the system works...harsh regarding practical life situations. Not sure why that's what I expected, I guess we've just heard so many horror stories at this point that we don't tend to expect the best. We've been pleasantly surprised throughout this whole process with the people that we've worked with.

This visit mainly consisted of confirmations of some of the info in our application - work, birth dates, what college majors we had declared, etc. We did have the distinct honor of being on record as Spanish-speaking. Even though we don't speak fluently, both of us have a little skill and speak enough that we are confident we could communicate with a young child. Toddlers won't have as much language anyway, so we might actually speak the same amount of Spanish as a child we may get in our home. :)

She did a home safety audit. Most of the stuff we are fine on; we have a few things to complete yet. We can't have hook and eye closures on our doors, so we have to take those out. We also have to safely secure all of our hazardous cleaning supplies and such. Amusingly, they are not safely secured right now. We've just never had a problem with our kids getting into that stuff. Scissors, yes. Can't leave scissors unattended in our home. But bleach? disinfectant? They could care less. However, we need to secure them to be approved for fostering. Also, our guns. We have to have them locked up separately from ammunition - right now they're just packed away in the garage attic, but we need to make sure they get locked up...

So in the next week, we'll be finishing up the minor stuff we have to secure for the safety audit. She is meeting with Wendell on Monday and me on Wednesday to finish up our individual appointments. Then the following Tuesday, we'll meet as a family so she can talk to Ben as well a little. And that's it! We'll have to wait for her to finish getting all the paperwork complete and send it off to the state for approval. Marsha (the case worker) said that could take up to six weeks depending on her caseload. Apparently right now they're in kind of a lull so maybe it won't take that long. I hope it won't take that long!

One weird thing that we have to complete for the home study is this 6-or-so page thing about what characteristics we will and won't accept in a placement. This ranges from medical stuff to emotional stuff to personality traits to familial background; it's really odd to think about. I have such weirdness regarding the whole packet because I feel like we're saying that we couldn't love a child who had certain issues or that we only want this specially-ordered perfect child or something. At the same time, I know it's a practical thing we have to deal with, especially because given our family make-up, home situation, and family life, we couldn't take a child with severe medical needs. Still...it feels wrong to be able to choose that when so many people have no choice with the children that are born to them.

I came away feeling a tad ambivalent about our appointment as well because one of the things that Marsha told us was they've placed a LOT of babies lately. Drug-addicted babies, which means extra care at first. In fact, she told us that when they have babies, they look hard for stay-at-home moms which puts us at an advantage. They've also apparently placed enough babies that she could not think of ONE open foster home in their system for babies. That sounds well and good, but I've been preparing myself for not receiving a baby. I just assumed it would be really unlikely, and I didn't want to be disappointed. So I'm a little disappointed that she told us this stuff about the babies because I feel hopeful again about it. Not that I just love babies more than anything, but I love the idea that it opens up the possibility that if we get to adopt any particular child, they will never know or remember any home or any family other than ours. Not sure if that's the right attitude to have, but I do know that the idea appeals to me greatly.

This ended up being a little longer than expected. I better write what I can now though, because there might be quite a few weeks of waiting with not much to write about ahead for us.

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