This post is LONG overdue! Our Home Study, a necessary prerequisite for our approval for adoption, started in July, and has now been completed. It’s the beginning of November. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this whole process, it’s that I really need to work on my patience (… or rather, my lack of patience).
I was very apprehensive about the Home Study, much more so than the 9 weeks of PRIDE training. I had heard that it was incredibly invasive, with the social worker delving into all aspects of your life, demanding that you tell them your deepest, darkest secrets. And I’d heard of stories where the Home Study was the reason for a family not receiving approval … because the house was too dusty! And how an off-handed comment from your child could bring the whole process to a screeching halt. But don’t worry, that wasn’t our experience at all!
Our first Home Study meeting was at the CAS office, with just Andy and I. We spent an hour talking with our social worker about why we wanted to adopt, what we felt were our strengths and weaknesses, and about our everyday life.
The second meeting was for Andy to meet with our social worker at the office, one-on-one. He asked about some things Andy had written in his PRIDE training homework, as well as about his upbringing, family relationships, etc.
The third meeting was my one-on-one hour with our social worker. These first three meetings all took place in July. Again he asked about my family relationships, how supportive my family was and if we had had any major issues over the years. We spent a good deal of time discussing one answer I had written on my application (a year earlier), but I was able to elaborate on my answer and clarify it somewhat.
Our fourth meeting was at our house in September. Our social worker quickly toured our house, noting the sleeping arrangements and size. He wasn’t concerned about safety since that had been taken care of during our fire inspection. Our basement is only partly finished and we were worried about that, but he said that wasn’t a big deal and that ours was farther along than others he’d seen! He also talked to our kids, while we all sat at the kitchen table. The kiddos were shy and not very forthcoming, but he actually managed to get a pretty accurate read on each of them. He also asked what activities the kids were into, their hobbies and interests, and how they were doing at school.
Once our fourth meeting was done, I had hoped that the next time we’d be hearing from the CAS would be to let us know whether we were approved or not. However, there were several things that had been missed or forgotten during the entire application process, so we still had some running around to do. We needed to get our criminal record checks done (which had somehow been missed a year earlier, somewhere after the fingerprinting) and send copies of the kids’ report cards, as well as clarify some more of the things we had already discussed. Once that was done, our social worker typed up an exhaustive report that listed much more than I ever wanted to read about myself. There were psychological sections, lifestyle sections, disciplinary/parenting methods sections, and family relationship sections on both Andy and I, as well as things about the kids. All of it was completely respectful, and very positive. There were a few points that weren’t completely accurate, so we penciled in the corrections, signed it and took it back in to the office. A few weeks later our social worker contacted me to let us know that his supervisor had signed off on it. We were finally approved!
And now we wait again. The next step is completely in the hands of our social worker. When he comes across a child that we may be a good match for, he’ll let us know and we’ll go into information-sharing meetings and discussions from there.
In the meantime, so that we don’t feel like we’re doing absolutely nothing, we’re planning to attend the Adoption Resource Exchange. The one most local to us takes place in Toronto next Sunday, and we’re looking forward to the experience. From what I understand, the ARE is a gathering of all of the local CAS offices that have children available for adoption that are harder to place. They may have physical or developmental challenges, or may be older, making it more difficult to find families for them. Social workers are on hand to provide information and answer questions about the children featured there. AdoptReady parents can submit an “Expression of Interest” for specific children if they like. Because CAS offices prefer to place children within their own geographical areas (to more easily facilitate birth family visits), connections aren’t always made between the offices. This event allows for those connections to be made with the parents themselves. We don’t expect to “find” our child there, but we are looking forward to the experience. I also plan on posting a recap of it all, so stay tuned!