Saturday, May 14, 2005

Today's topic...The Actual Home Study!

Yes, all of that paperwork and we still haven't talked about the real live home study. So, here goes...

Our agency assigned a social worker to our case when we were going through this process the first time with Hope. (The social workers are NOT employed by the adoption agencies. Imagine the problems THAT would create! There would be lawsuits all over the place with people claiming that the social workers were approving families just so the agencies could "make more money" through adoptions. ::shudder::) Our social worker is named Dena and she is a TREASURE! We are blessed to be able to continue to work with her during Claire's adoption process.

The first time through, she made two visits to our home. The first visit consisted of her interviewing both of us together and then individually, discussing issues dealing with our family history, marriage, our motivation to adopt etc. The second visit was her chance to walk through the house and fill out the form for our home safety audit. She took all of this information, plus all of the paperwork we had provided her with and put it together into a five page narrative which is THE HOME STUDY. It is an in depth document that covers the following topics: type of child desired, information about the adoptive father, childhood of the adoptive father, career and adult life of the adoptive father, information about the adoptivie mother, childhood of the adoptive mother, career and adult life of the adoptive mother, marital relationship, social and religious networks, attitudes and motivation to adopt, attitudes towards parenting, and home and finances. She ends the document with two paragraphs, the first stating that all of our references are positive and favorable. The final paragraph is her summary and recommendation stating that she feels we should be approved as adoptive parents.

This relatively simple and painless process was a nightmare the first time around! By NO fault of Dena's it was simply a nightmare! Someone at our agency and someone at Dena's employer, for whatever reason, didn't play nicely. They went back and forth for literally months wanting one more piece of information about this...or one more piece of information about that. It was harrowing. However, looking back I am able to see that our Hope wasn't ready for us yet...things happen for a reason!

This time the process was somewhat streamlined. Dena only visited once and it coincided with Hope's twelve month post placement visit. After she finished gathering Hope's information, she basically went through a copy of our first home study and asked if anything had changed. She also requires paperwork from us which we have completed and returned to her. I need to add that the amount of paperwork that your social worker requires varies greatly from one social worker to the next. Friends of ours who are going through the adoption process for the second time, with the same agency, were only required to submit three pieces of paperwork to their social worker.

The following is a list of paperwork that our social worker required from us. The letters after each item signify if this item was needed for Hope, Claire, or Both. Photocopies of the following were required from us:

1. the last five years tax returns (1040 form only)***B
2. the evacuation plan (with a primary and alternate escape route for each floor)---We have to have a plan posted in our home of what to do in case of fire. It is currently posted on our refrigerator along with emergency numbers!***B
3. the financial statement that we completed for the agency***B
4. the fire inspection completed for the agency***In Hope's case we needed to supply a photocopy of the inspection. For Claire we only needed to supply the date the inspection was to take place.
5. the local police clearance letters completed for the agency***B
6. the driving record reports completed for the agency***B
7. the child abuse clearance letters completed for the agency***B
8. proof of auto insurance (most recent statement/invoice)***B
9. proof of health insurance (copy of the insurance card)***B
10. medical statements for each individual completed for the agency***B
11. medical statements for non-parental members of the family***C
12. certified copy of marriage certificate***B
13. certified copy of all divorce decrees---NONE! ")
14. employment verification letter on company letterhead completed for the agency***B
15. proof of completion of CPR***Although we completed a CPR course our first time through we never received anything saying we had completed it. This was one of the sore points with the first home study. Someone at the agency wouldn't release it to Dena's employer until the employer released something else to her etc. The person at the agency who put us and who knows how many others through this type of ordeal is NO LONGER THERE. I can't thank Emily from the agency enough. She is GREAT! We explained that we didn't have anything saying we had completed the course and needed a copy for Claire's paperwork. She said she would provide Dena with whatever she needed! When Dena came to pick up everything I told her what Emily had said. Her response? "Melissa, I don't need anything about you taking CPR! {pointing to Hope} I can see you've already taken and passed it or you wouldn't have Hope!"
16. certificate of completion of childcare classes***H
17. copies of driver's licenses***B
18. well water test results---Not Applicable!
19. animal vaccination/shot records***B
20. pre-service training certificate***H
21. one picture of the family and one picture of the exterior of the house***B
22. guardian confirmation letter completed for the China dossier***B
23. legal documentation concerning any criminal record---Not Applicable!
Also needed were our fingerprint information and references. Dena collected those directly from the agency.

Dena called me yesterday to say that she needed a copy of Hope's medical form and that she had completed the update narrative and had turned it in. She was expecting it to be approved by the end of the week! YAY!!!!

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