Tuesday, May 03, 2005

And now for the paperwork...

I realize that this is probably mind numbing for most people, but I wanted to give those of you who haven't been through the experience some idea of what the process entails. For those not interested in the details here's all you need to know: It is extremely stressful, time consuming, most often instrusive, highly redundant, tremendously confusing, and in the end worth every minute of it.

With that said, please note that I can only speak for what "my" agency, social worker, state, county, government etc. requires of us AT THIS POINT IN TIME. Everyone's experience is different...even with the same agency at the same time! Any item requiring a fee will be surrounded like *this*!

One of the "magic pieces of paper" that we had to have in before the end of 2004 to qualify for just the update of our home study is called the *Application For Adoption*. It was MUCH less detailed this time than when we began the process with Hope. It is comprised of three pages asking name, address, phone number, age, Fed Ex account number, employment and financial information, social security number, number of and date of divorce/divorces, health problems, daily medications, criminal convictions, passport numbers, country of citizenship, religious affiliation etc. It also asks why we wish to adopt, if we have done so previously, where we would like to adopt from, and how we have heard of their agency. The last page asks about history of mental illness, substance abuse, criminal convictions, counseling, and the time frame within which we want to adopt the child. Perhaps my favorite snippet is "Briefly explain how you intend to raise your child with religious/moral values:"...and they give you less than one inch of space.

The second magic piece of paper due before the end of last year was the *Ohio Department Of Job And Family Services Application For Child Placement*. This six page wonder is actually what initiates the home study. The first page wants name, address, phone number, cell numbers, emergency contact name and number, and whether we are applying to foster or adopt. Then, on the same page, names again and how we are related to each other, dates of birth, race, ethnic background, school grade completed, marital status and date of marriage, area of specialized education, employer, occupation, length of time with employer, gross annual income, days/hours of work in a normal work week, and our driver's license numbers. Page two wants our criminal history, number of bedrooms in the house, what type of bed is in each room, who sleeps in each room, and where the child to be placed will sleep. Also included on this page is a spot for us to write the directions from the agency to our home, and the names and addresses of the schools that the child will attend. Page three continues with school information. It then moves into asking if anyone in the family smokes, if smoking is allowed in the home, if there are pets in the home, if a business is run from the home, how many vehicles we have along with the models and makes, if they are insured, and if we have car seats. The final portion on page three wants to know how long we've lived at our current address and where we lived prior to moving here, as well as if we've been residents of the state of Ohio for the last five years. Page four goes into our employment history for at least the last ten years, and any information about any previous marriages OR significant relationships. The next section covers the "Type Of Child Will Consider". They want to know age, race, sex, number, and ethnicity. Page five wants a detailed listing of all of our past experience with children, and the names, addresses, phone numbers, and their relationship to us, of five non-relative references. This one bothered me. I mean, we've satisfied the agency, the county, the state, the country, The People's Republic Of China and we still need five more references to do this again? They also want to know if they can contact Garry's employer for a reference. The last page is all the legal stuff that is to be read before you sign on the dotted line and also asks how we heard of said agency.

The two magic pieces of paper were received by the agency before December 31, 2004 and we did nothing else, as previously planned, until March 2005.

We started with the home study portion. Below is a list of what we need to complete...here we go!

1. *Application For Child Placement*---completed in December 2004 and described above.

2. *Fingerprint Cards & Clearances*---Our fingerprints must be cleared by the state of Ohio and the FBI. When we went through this with Hope, we went to our local police department and had them taken using the inkpad and card method. Mine came back...apparently I can begin my life of crime as my left hand barely prints. I had to have them done again. This time we were able to go to a firm called "National Background Check, Inc.". They take your fingerprints electronically allowing you to know immediately if they are unreadable. Whenever I've been told that my prints were unreadable (at least three times previously), I was told to apply hand lotion. So I tried to do that this time. I was told not to, that everything would be fine. Want to guess what happened when she tried to scan my left hand? I had to rub my fingertips on my pants...then I had to rub them with a special tissue. It still took at least a half a dozen times...but they are done!

3. Child Abuse Clearances---We fill out two forms, one for each parent listing our name, date of birth, social security number, and address. We mail them along with photocopies of our driver's licenses, birth certificates, and/or social securty cards to the Ohio Department of Human Services in Columbus. In eight weeks or less we receive two form letters stating that we aren't listed in any registry as alleged perpetrators of child abuse or neglect. Now...here's the GREAT part about this one...at the bottom of each form letter you will find this statement: THE CENTRAL REGISTRY WAS NOT DESIGNED TO BE USED AS AN APPLICANT SCREENING DEVICE (e.g., FOR CHILD CARE RELATED EMPLOYMENT OR VOLUNTEER WORK, OR FOR FOSTER CARE OR ADOPTION) AND SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Classic, eh? ")

4. *Driving Record From The Ohio BMV*---We fill out two forms, one per parent that require name (twice), address (twice), phone, social security number, date of birth, driver's license number, and license plate number. We send it off along with our fee to the Ohio BMV in Columbus. In four weeks or less we receive our records from the registrar.

5. Required Classes---Let me just say that we did NOT have to take any classes this time and we were/are THRILLED! This is a requirement that is waived when you go through the process for the second time. It's not that they were bad classes...they weren't even boring! It was just nice NOT to have to do something again. When we went through it for Hope we had to spend, I believe it was an entire day, taking an Infant/Child CPR class in the morning and a Child Care Class in the afternoon. For our Pre-Service Training course we spent the day learning about issues that our child will certainly face at some point in her life. It was pretty in depth stuff and more than worth the time. All of these classes were scheduled by our agency and held AT our agency which made it very convenient.

6. Copy Of Marriage License---just a plain old photocopy...you'll see why that is so wonderful once we get to the China Dossier section! ")

7. Divorce Decrees if applicable---NOT!

8. Adoptive Applicant Financial Statement---A two page form wanting name, number of dependents, monthly income, monthly expenditures (listed), lists of assets and liabilities, and details of insurance coverage.

9. Employment Verification Letters---These need to be typed on company letter head and state job title, income, length of employment, and stability of future employment. They must also be signed by a "company representative".

10. Medical Statement---A two sided form that is to be completed for each household member. The front is to be filled out by the applicant and wants to know name, date of birth, and address. This is followed by several Yes/No questions such as: have you ever been treated for a serious or chronic illness, have you been hospitalized in the past five years, have you ever received, or been advised to seek, mental health services, and have you ever received, or been advised to seek, treatment for alchohol/substance abuse? If you answered yes to any of the above questions you are to write an explanation...again in about an inch of space. Next comes a list of diseases/conditions that they want you to check if you, your parents, grandparents, or siblings have ever suffered from, followed by that special inch of space to explain any boxes you may have checked. Finally they want to know if there is any history of other hereditary disease. This side is finished after we write in the name of the agency and sign and date it. The back side is to be filled out by our physician. They want to know the date of the last physical and the date of our last appointment, and how frequently he (our doctor) provides medical services to us. Next comes the five Yes/No questions which are basically the same as the ones on the front...just worded differently, and the space to explain any yes answers. Finally there is a space for a brief narrative where the physician is to state his/her professional opinion as to what kind of parents we would make. Then the usual signature, date, and state license number.

11. Authorization For Release Of Confidential Information---This is a one sided form, the same on the top as on the bottom. The top is for one parent, the bottom for the other. Name, address, social security number, sex, date of birth, place of birth, and the name of the agency is required to complete and release the information found in any police/criminal records check.

12. Local Police Clearance---Ok...this one reads like some old Marx brothers routine or something. Inside our home study packet of instructions/forms is a sample letter to complete this requirement. At the top in large letters it reads SAMPLE. It then reads POLICE LETTER HEAD. The sample letter consists of what should be put in the letter leaving A LOT of blanks for the person's information. We need three ORIGINALS for each of us. One original is for the home study and two more are for the China Dossier to be discussed later! I made a copy of the sample letter and wrote at the top: 3 originals per parent. The three of us went downtown to the police department on Saturday morning. We explained to the nice (and he was VERY NICE, please don't get me wrong) officer what we needed, he asked for our identification and then went to work on our letters. Perhaps ten minutes later he handed them back to us with a smile. I looked at what he had handed me and said, "Um...no." He had made photocopies of the sample letter...you know the one with SAMPLE and 3 originals per parent written at the top? Then he had filled in the blanks on each of them. He said, "Did I mess something up?" Garry explained what he needed to do to correct them. Then there was some concern as they don't HAVE a department letterhead. Another officer whipped one up on the computer and typed out the new letters and printed three for each of us. While they were printing Garry's they handed me my three originals and they had...spelled my name wrong. After checking Garry's and finding they were perfect we had to tell this man that there was yet another mistake. I felt HORRIBLE, and I was fighting a HUGE case of the giggles! He returned again, all smiles and said, "Ok, tell me what I did wrong on this bunch!" This time they were perfect. I thanked him profusely! I don't tell this story to berate our police officers, only to illustrate the frustration and pitfalls we encounter with the paperwork. This guy was a sweetheart!

13. Passport Copies---REALLY easy...just photocopy the page with our picture and signature.

14. Safety Home Audit---This form is completed by the social worker during one of her home study visits. You know...stuff like we have a working bathroom, no unvented space heaters, the house is childproofed, emergency numbers are posted etc. And yes, we have to have written instructions for a fire drill posted somewhere in our home.

15. Well Water Report if applicable---This would have to be completed by the county health department but since we don't have well water we got to skip it!

16. Fire Inspection Report---A two page form completed by a member of the fire department. The typical how many floors, bedrooms, smoke detectors etc. He also tested the smoke detectors and looked for unsafe cords etc. The same firefighter who did our inspection for Hope was here yesterday to do "Claire's" inspection. Again, just a wonderful individual. Hope loved him and wanted to follow him all over the house.

There were two other pieces of paperwork in our packet. One is called the Adoption Awareness Checklist. It is made up of eighteen statements/bits of information concerning actions or conditions that might develop with the adopted child. Garry and I had to initial each statement, then sign it and give it to our social worker to sign and date as well. The other piece of paper is basically an outline concerning the fees paid for the home study that we need to sign, saying that we have read it.

SO! There you have JUST THE PAPERWORK involved in the home study process. We turned in everything to the agency yesterday and thought we were done. You'd think I'd have learned by now wouldn't you? ; ) Nope. I got a call today that we neglected to complete a medical statement for Hope. Emily at our agency said she would send it out today. After THAT one is turned in our part of the home study is finished.

Are your eyes bleeding yet? Have you lapsed into a coma? More later!

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails