Of all the components of the adoption process the home study/interview portion freaked me out the most.
I knew the background checks would come back clear and I was confident our friends and coworkers would write glowing references but the prospect of having a virtual stanger come into our home and ask us intimate questions was intimidating.
Our friends who had completed the process kept assuring us that it wasn’t nearly as scary as I was making it to be in my mind and said we would easily “pass”. In a major sense they were correct, after a visit to our home and two 1-on-1 interviews we were approved. Yet there were emotions that I went through that greatly impacted me. Here are the good, the bad and the “ugly” aspects of our home study process.
Prior to our home study we were each asked to complete an 8 page questionnaire. This would enable our social worker to learn a bit about us prior to meeting and allow her to delve more into the areas she needed clarification on for her report.
While she had separate interviews with each of us, the home study was focused on us as a couple and future parents. A portion of the questionnaire centered around our relationship including how we met, strengths/weaknesses of our marriage and how we saw ourselves as parents.
As she started our interview, her first question was regarding how we met. Each time I tell the story a smile instantly comes over my face as it did this time. I have a tendency to tell the story rather than my husband. After I completed the tale, she asked him what it was that drew him to me.
His candor in answering the question and the love I saw come over his face as he answered almost brought me to tears. While we tell each other “we love you” every day, there is something so sweet about seeing the love in your significant other’s eyes as they state the reasons why.
When we were asked to describe our marriage, I was once again overcome with emotion as he described the reasons he loves me and how he sees me as his wife. As I explained what he means to me as a husband, I just kept wondering when the last time was that I had told him everything I felt. It had been a long time.
We know we love each other but it is easy to forget, during the day to day of life, to verbalize the ways the other person brings joy and love into our lives. Who knew the home study would offer just that opportunity!
My husband and I each had a 1-on-1 interview with the social worker where she took a deep dive into our personal history. From the questionnaire I knew I would not enjoy this part of the process. Unfortunately, I did not have an idyllic childhood and some of the questions delved into the darker aspects of my youth. I was very high level when answering the questions on paper and knew she would probably want to talk more in depth in person. She did.
A little background about me. My dad passed away before I was born and my mother ended up marrying an abusive alcoholic when I was 6 years old. He changed me from an enthusiastic, outgoing and curious little girl into a quiet, introverted and scared child.
I was less than thrilled to have to rehash this information with a stranger. I had spent years finding myself again, becoming the person who was hidden away but not completely gone. I had made peace with the fact that my step-father was perpetuating a vicious cycle of abuse that he endured and that my mom was a weak person who couldn’t stand up for herself or me. Their actions had nothing to do with me personally and when it finally clicked that the problem was them, not me, I refused to let the hurt go any further than skin deep.
Except here I was, trying to explain to a social worker that my screwed up childhood would not hinder my ability to be a caring and loving parent. I was so worried that something from my past would have a major impact on my future.
To be honest, the questions were invasive. I understand the purpose, their aim is to make sure a child is going to a safe environment. Rationally I knew this, emotionally I hated recounting the mess that was my childhood.
A part of me wanted to say where are these questions for biological parents? Everyday I hear on the news a different story on the horrors that children across this country go through at the hands of their birth parents. Here we are, with the best intentions, and I am having to defend who I am and how I got here.
It was difficult to lay bare my childhood but thankfully she recognized me for who I became in spite of all that I had been through. Even though it was hard to recount the pain of my childhood, it was a necessary part of the process. Fortunately, she was able to see that my past did not dictate my future and we got the final stamp of approval to become adoptive parents.
Our social worker asked us to describe what the nursery would look like. When posed this question, my husband turned toward me without a clue what to say. We had spent so much time thinking of the details of the adoption process that we hadn’t spent a ton of time thinking of fun aspects such as decorating the nursery.
When I was pregnant with our first baby, I had a specific vision but after the loss I didn’t want to go that route. As much sense as it does, or doesn’t, make I wanted a fresh start. Yet I wasn’t sure exactly what that was.
As I started talking aloud about potential ideas, she kept writing. I went into my classic over analyzation and wondered what she was penning. Did she think the theme was ridiculous? Did she think the color scheme was ugly?
It then hit me that she was sitting in our house, looking at our furnishing and already knew our style. She had to know it would be aligned with what our natural tendencies already were – clean, modern, simple. Our nursery would be an extension of the style reflected throughout the rest of our house.
Ultimately, whether she thought our style was good, bad or ugly, it didn’t really matter. What really mattered was that she saw that our child would be loved and cared for regardless of a color palette or theme.