Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homestudy Update

We heard from the social worker!!  We know now when the dates of our homestudy are!  The first meeting will be at our house on April 20, Saturday, at 1pm.  The second one will be at AO on April 22, Monday, at 5pm.  The dates & times work out perfectly for us!  She said the interviews will be 2-3 hours long.  I am terribly excited!  I can't believe all the months - years, actually - of preparing are finally going to be coming to a head.  We're soon going to be waiting parents.  I'm a little disappointed we have to wait a month before starting the homestudy, but that gives us some time to work more on renos, unpacking, etc.  I know making the house nice isn't where my focus needs to be for the homestudy, but it does need to look a little better than this (boxes piled around, no doors installed, etc).  She said that after the last meeting she tries to have the homestudy written up in a week.  After that (not sure what date) we meet with AO's program supervisor again, at which time we will be APPROVED!  I'm still hoping that will be by Mother's Day ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

First Homestudy Meeting!!

So our homestudy is made up of 4 meetings.  The first one is called the "Adoption File Submission" meeting.  We had that one yesterday!  We went in to AO and met with the program supervisor.  She is super nice and likes to laugh a lot :)  We were comfortable with her since we've met her a number of times before.  So us 3 were the only ones in the whole building which was nice.  We handed in our pages of photos with captions, the photo of us two, our marriage certificate, each of our handwritten Prospective Adoptive Parent Questionnaires, our Application II, and our Dear Birthmother letter.  This is the culmination of everything we have been working on for the last 9 - 11 months.  Everything that I (we) have been putting our heart & mind & strength into for what feels like forever, stuck in one big envelope, and handed over for someone else to critique our bared souls.  Bonnie is excellent, though.  She was really excited to see our stuff.  We had been told ahead of time (at the weekend seminar last June) that they almost always make suggestions of things to change, and not to be offended, and we don't have to take their suggestions if we don't want to.  So I was expecting her to make some suggestions of things to change.  First she looked at our photos.  This has to be 2 double-sided 8 1/2 x 11 papers, with however many photos you can fit on, with captions.  Put into protective plastic covers, doing it on the computer is fine, no scrapbooking allowed.  We narrowed it down to a total of 22 pictures (it is very hard to sum up your life in 22 pictures!) - 2 sides each with 5 pics, and 2 sides each with 6 pics.  I did it in Photoshop and made the pictures each 3x4.  Anyway, she loved it.  Didn't suggest any changes.  We had to submit 2 photos of us; these ones needed to be posed, flattering, close-up ones, to be attached to our Dear Birthmother/father letters.  (The other photos were supposed to be more action, personality, ones.)  So those were fine.  Our PAPQ's I thought she was going to read through but she said she will leave that for the social worker to do.  However, she was flipping through them and reading answers just 'cause she is curious that way :)  They are 8 pages long with a total of 52 difficult questions (57 total if you are currently parenting).  She commented that Hubby writes a lot (to which we said that's the same way he talks - a lot!) and that my writing was so neat.  After the adoption is finalized, our marriage certificate gets sealed together with other court papers, so we don't get that back - the reason they ask for it now is just so they don't have to get it from us later.  Our App II is an 8-page long form that we mark off everything that we are okay with and not okay with (from simple like gender, to insanely difficult like how many drinks after confirmation per week).  It also has 2 pages of questions about our views on transracial adoption (about 13 questions).  Also what diseases we're okay and not okay with of both parents and child, how child is conceived, race, percentage of races, how much contact after adoption, etc and etc!  I was nervous about this one because Hubby and I are super-naive when it comes to drugs, alcohol, etc.  We picked our doctor's brain and researched online, but of course nowhere online are you going to find "yeah, it's okay to have this and this much alcohol when pregnant!".  But she looked over our numbers and once again made no suggestions for changes.  She again mentioned how neat it was (she should've seen our rough copy!!!) and there was only one little thing we had to tweak.  The last thing we handed over the table was our Dear Birthmother letter.  This had to be 2 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, single sided, typed.  They recommended something easily readable like 12 point Times New Roman font.  She laughed when she saw I had made narrow margins on the page, and commented that the 12 point font was good.  Still laughing, I said, "Nope, that's 11.5!"  We had a good laugh over that, and my margins.  I did everything possible to make that fit on to 2 pages.  It fit exactly.  I was really hoping she wouldn't suggest I add anything!  She then gathered up all our stuff and went to her office while we filled out our Child Abuse Registry Checks and Prior Contact Checks (with Child and Family Services) and some other forms (to say if we'd been arrested or anything since submitting our Criminal Record Checks, and something about discipline).  She read the Dear Birthmother letter and when she came back she said it was excellently written (phew!!) and she had no suggestions again!  She kept being amazed at how easy we were making this on her and how quickly the meeting was going!  The only thing was the wording in my last paragraph needs to be changed a bit for the letter addressed to the birthfather, because I address the birthmom in it.  (We submit two identical letters; one is addressed to each parent, though.)  After that she let us know what was coming up!  AO contracts out social workers to do the personal interviews part of the homestudy.  There will be 2 meetings with the social worker.  The first one will be at our home.  She will be coming over sometime around the end of this month (she'll phone to arrange it first!).  The second Personal Interviews meeting will be at AO again, and it will be sometime at the end of April (much too long to wait in my opinion, haha).  After that she will write up our homestudy which will take a couple weeks, and then we will meet with Bonnie again at AO in the beginning of May.  At that point we will be approved!!!  I am hoping that we will be waiting parents by Mother's Day (May 12th) because I just think that would be really special :)