Whew! It's Tuesday morning. That means our 7:45pm 5/11 home study appointment is in the past. I must say I felt completely at ease and prepared for whatever would come our way. That was until our buzzer rang. That's the moment my stomach did little cartwheels and my mind turned to complete white noise. Thank goodness for Kai's calmness!
I remained a bit on edge through the small talk and into the initial discussion, which I believe our caseworker picked up on immediately. She quickly shifted gears and made what I'm sure is the 'go-to' speech for the many other jittery PAPs she visits. She made the entire process so much better.
And this is very important for anyone else out there scrubbing your baseboards in preparation for your home study. The go-to speech as I remember it went like this...
There are no right or wrong answers. We want to see that the two of you are on the same page with this decision and what it entails. I want to hear about the two of you as a couple and as individuals, what brought you together, what has kept you together, what has brought you to adoption, what has brought you to Ethiopia, what you plan to do when your child is home, school, work, discipline, your plans for dealing with any issues re: attachment, bonding, grief & loss...and you get the picture. From the hour + meeting, our home was the focus for approximately five minutes.
We asked my brother and sister (who are both great parents, yet with very different parenting mantras) to email us questions. My friend, Lisa, also sent some great ones which were SO helpful. This was our Saturday & Sunday evening entertainment - following our long days of hands & knees cleaning. It was great! and transpired into entire nights of "what if ..." and "when do we allow ..." and "my philosophy on ..." that by midnight, Niko was 16 and not allowed to go on a date with the girl he liked because he wouldn't introduce her to us, nor would he tell us where they were going.
So, my advice for preparing for your home study is to ask family or friends who are fabulous parents to send you a few real life scenarios. Answer them candidly (and separately) from your partner to see how you each would deal. There will definitely be differences, but if you're both on the same page overall, you'll do fine! It's also fun to see where the conversation goes. We discussed things that were completely ridiculous - and brought a great laugh about the whole thing. Above all, you must keep your sense of humor.
Prior to our meeting, we had a contractor come to adjust the side gate, front door, an exterminator for 'just in case' and of course the hands & knees weekend cleaning & organizing. It felt productive but I don't think it was necessary. My advice would be to focus on yourselves. Yes, clean your house but don't kill yourself.
The caseworkers aren't there to find what's wrong. They're there to find what's right for the children they're trying to place.