The home study. It has been something that has taken a lot of our time and energy these past few months. It is the first big hurdle in the adoption process and it feels good to have it almost completed. It started with putting together a TON of paperwork. We had to complete a marriage questionnaire, a parenting questionnaire, give a detailed account of our finances, provide our tax returns for the past three years, have a medical examination done by our doctor complete with bloodwork, send a copy of our birth certificates, passports, social security cards...(you get the picture!)
Once we put all those things together, we set up our first home study interview. We were assigned a case worker who reviewed all of our paperwork before she came to our house to interview us, our babysitter, and Caleb (Jacob is too young.) It worked out that we were able to set the interview the Tuesday of Thanksgiving break, which made it both a blessing and a struggle. It was a blessing because it was Thanksgiving break. Brian and I were both off of work so we didn't have to take off any days and it gave us a chance to clean. It was a struggle because, well, it was Thanksgiving break. Teachers will tell you there is no tired like the tired you feel when you make it to Thanksgiving break. You haven't had a real break in months, the students are tired, YOU are tired, and in our case, we felt like we were living off of frozen pizza and pulling clothes out of the dirty laundry (and I'm not even a classroom teacher anymore!)
I was told by someone who has gone through the adoption process not to stress about the home study. Our case worker was there to make sure our family and our house was a safe place for a child. They WANT to see this happen; they are in this with you, which has definitely been the truth with our case worker. Looking back after the home study, I would tell anyone going through the adoption process not to be as worried or go as crazy about having your house clean as I did. Our case worker opened no closets and barely looked at the house. But, all I could think about while I was cleaning was she could *technically* open any closet or cabinet in my house to see what was inside, which made me deep clean my house in a way I have never done before (and will probably never do again.)
There is no way I could have gotten my house clean or have been prepared for the home study on Tuesday without the help of friends and family. They stepped up and helped us in the biggest way possible: they took the boys. Parents know how it is; when you're children are in the house you clean a room, turn around, and every single toy is on the floor. My sister in law took Jacob out for food and fun AND helped me clean, our neighbor took the boys and let them play at their house, our friend from our church (who was in the middle of moving herself) took the boys for an evening, and my mom was awesome as she always is and helped me clean and take care of the boys. Even now, at this early stage in the process, I am blown away at how giving people have been with their time and resources.
The home study itself went great. Most of it was spent just talking to our case worker about the struggles and challenges of adoption and what we thought we were capable of handling. She did interview Caleb on his own. Not sure all she asked him, but she did tell me she asked him what he liked to do. He told her he liked to run, then proceeded to run down the hallway to show her how fast he really could go. When she asked him what he liked about school, he said PE because he could run. At least he's consistent!
We had our second home study visit in December (over Christmas break...a plus of being in the teaching profession!) and it was pretty simple. She interviewed Brian and I separately; the boys didn't even have to be there. In between the two visits, Brian and I completed 12 hours of online adoption training that we discussed with her while she was there.
At this point, our case worker has written up her report and recommended us as a family that can adopt. We are waiting on one last piece of paper to go through, and then we can move on to the dossier, another big pack of papers that gets sent to the US government and China!