Sunday’s Home Study Visit

houseLet me just preface this with something that is off topic from the title. I originally started this blog to document my adoption journey – the ups and downs and every point in between – however I also ended up blogging about random life things. I’ve decided to break up my posts into more individual blog sites, keeping this one specifically for adoption. I know many of you are probably following me for some of the various posts I posted so if you want to remove yourself from this blog and add yourself to the other blog, that would be fine.

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So on to the original topic of this post – the home study visit! It was yesterday from 9-12ish. My case worker met with my friend first and then my mom. I stayed downstairs for both of their interviews. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous, but only because I didn’t know what she was going to ask them or what she was going to talk to me about.

Once we got to my portion, there was some paperwork I had to correct which was no problem. The main topic of our talks were around finances. Because I’m single I don’t have a double income coming in that will allow for a bigger savings account. All I can do is save what I can, try to make money on the side and hope that nothing in the house breaks. I have the next two years planned out financially for my mom and I and I do believe I will be able to do it. Another option is taking out a loan which I have no problem doing. We discussed all of this in great detail and length. We also discussed extending my mom’s stay so she can help out more and that is always an option.

We discussed the placement agency I’ve chosen to do the adoption through and once we are both in a more relaxed state, she would like to learn more about them so her agency can continue to utilize them.

She loved my house and can visualize my child sitting at the kitchen island on the bar stools doing homework while I make us dinner. It was nice that she could see that. She loved the dog and cat and thought that they were both very friendly pets.

Overall it wasn’t bad. I did feel like I was under an interrogation light in some respects but I did feel like she was just being thorough in her job. I hope that I get approved but don’t see any reasons why I shouldn’t. She could sense my determination in making this all happen so I hope she passes that along in her staff meeting.

Keep your fingers crossed! And if you’re interested in helping me in some way, just let me know.

Adoption Meeting

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Ok. Where to start. Um. Today was my first adoption meeting with my local case worker. I was nervous – only because I didn’t know what this meeting was going to be about. The only thing I was told was that I would be given a written assessment and some homework to do when I leave. Vague huh?

I arrive to meet my case worker at 12:45 and we went to a private room. A little bit of small talk was made and then she jumped right in with some questions she had based on my autobiography. They were good and thorough questions.

We move to some paperwork that she had to fill out while asking me questions, some other paperwork that she had to read and disclose to me. Honestly, it’s all a blur. I feel like I should have brought a tape recorder with me.

I took a bunch of notes of questions I need to find out from agency #2 and a checklist of what my next steps are.

  1. Finalize my decision on agency #2.
  2. Apply to the agency #2 that I pick.
  3. Order two copies of certified birth (me), marriage (me), and death certificates (Rob).
  4. Get fingerprinted (me and my mom)

She gave me a huge packet of paperwork for my home study. Most of it I can fill out myself or read over and understand. There are online courses I must take and some books I must read. But first, she suggests that I work on the things that are out of my control. They are:

  1. Medical physicals – my mom and I both have to do this. Mom has to because she is currently living with me.
  2. Schedule the health department home inspection.
  3. Schedule the fire marshal home inspection.

They provide two training days. Day 1 is a full day where they go over the adoption process in more details and then because I’m adopting internationally, they will discuss racial and cultural issues. Again, sort of vague, so we’ll see what happens when it happens. My Day 1 training is scheduled for March 1st 2013. Day 2 is a half day of training and won’t happen until after the referral and before I travel to meet her/him. So this one is nothing to think about yet since I have quite a bit of time before this happens. This training will be more specific to my child and how to bond with him/her and how to prepare for bringing him/her home.

Okay, enough of saying him/her. For blog reasons and of course my preference, I’m going to refer to my child as her. My preference is a girl so that’s what I’ll go with until I get my referral. So, him/her = her – for writing reasons.

Back to the training, I have some homework to complete BEFORE the training and some of it scares the cookies out of me. But I’m sure if I take it one thing at a time, it will all be okay.

The home study paperwork consists of things like:

  • Transracial/transcultural awareness plan of action – So I have to jot down five activities that I will do to gain awareness of my child race. I have to really think about this and come up with five things for what I’ll do before placement, when the child is 1-4 yo, 5-11 yo, 12+. Seriously? I have no clue.
  • Transracial/transcultural research homework – This is a more creative way to learn about the culture. They don’t want me to google it and simply write it down, but maybe go to a church affiliated with the country and talk to someone and document what they say. That is just one example. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do for Ethiopia. Maybe a restaurant?
  • Online courses – I have to take these and mark the date I took them, plus print out a certificate to prove I took them. This will be fun.
  • Financial statement – Provide a list of my finances and an average of what they cost.
  • Gynecological exam results – Self explanatory.
  • Medical self report – I answer a ton of questions and then get my doctor to sign off on it.
  • Health Insurance Coverage – This verifies that I carry health insurance.
  • Three references – I have to get three people to write up something about me. One has to be present at a home study. They are sealed up so I can’t read them. Dang!
  • Medical Issues Checklist – This list is for me to go through and check off what I am willing to have in my child and what I’m not comfortable with.
  • Guardian(s) Information – This is a legal document but the country needs to know that if something happens to me, there is someone on file that will be able to take care of the child. Any takers?
  • Home Safety Checklist – Few questions about safety in my house. Should be easy enough.
  • Firearm Safety Checklist – Not an issue.
  • Inspection Checklist – This is great because it will help me prepare the house before the Health Department visits my home.
  • Letter to Birthparents – Self explanatory. This will be hard to do.
  • Parenting Questions – I fill this out.

I know this was a lot to read and I’ll be surprise if anyone actually reads it. But see why I’m overwhelmed? And I didn’t even list out all the documents, just the more critical ones that will require some work.

It’s feeling very real now and I’m really terrified. I’m sure it will pass, but holy hell!

Am I Back in School?

In my adoption paperwork is a guideline to use to help me write my autobiography. Really? In the info session they made it seem like it was going to be 1-2 pages but at the top of the page is states 7-10 pages – typed! I wonder if I can use size 16 font and double space…LOL.

So I started tackling the first section FAMILY ORIGINS and at first glance it looks like it will be easy to answer all these questions, but as I stared at the blank screen, I realized this may be harder than I thought.

But it’s okay…

I plan on taking it one question at a time…one section at a time, and just write a bit each day. The agency states that other adoptive parents have enjoyed having this…once it was done. I think they’ll be right, but right now I’m looking at this and thinking to myself, I don’t remember what activities I did when I was 5 years old, or what my neighborhood were like when I was little. But luckily I have my mom to help answer some things while I still make it known that I don’t remember a lot of the details. After all, this autobiography will be used during the Home Study so they have a guide for asking questions. So I can’t add too much if I don’t remember too much of it.

So 7-10 pages; size 12 font; single spaced….am I back in school? Sure feels like it.

Supplemental Income

I’ve been trying to find ways to come up with the adoption money without going into major debt. I haven’t told everyone on Facebook yet and only my mom knows from the family. I’m hoping and praying that someone…and I mean someone uses one of my ways of donating, whether it is buying some of my Etsy items or just using Paypal or GoFundMe to place a donation.

The first chunk of money needed to begin the home study is hefty $5300. That includes the home study and three post-placement meetings, plus paperwork processing fees. But I don’t have that lying around either. Luckily I have a couple months or maybe even a few months to get that money.

So let’s talk about the first part-time job that I have. Over a year ago a friend of mine I met at my previous job, met with me to discuss becoming a business partner with him and his company. His company is only a few years old and thought it would be a great idea. I signed the paperwork and was immediately the one woman department for eLearning. My role is to develop online training based on the customers needs. In the last year, no contracts came in because of an employee in his company not doing her job in finding us contracts….so the GREAT news is, last week he told me that he got a contract for some onsite training as well as online training. Yay! Looking at the curriculum there could be about 28 online courses for me to develop. So I am really hoping to get this going to bring in some extra money. It will be nice to see the adoption bank account increase. 🙂

Now on to the second part-time job. A couple of weeks ago I attended DogFest and met two ladies who work with a wonderful and award winning dog walking company. My friend and I both got to talking to them and somehow in the conversation they brought up they are looking for part-time help. My eyes lit up so I inquired. I received the application, filled it out, and returned it. So last night I had my phone interview and it turned out to be a great conversation and she explained in details some of the more popular services. For example, overnights are really popular! That shocked me because I guess I can’t imagine a stranger staying in my guess room for a week while I am on vacation. But apparently people do it.  She explained the pay system and the fact that if I don’t feel comfortable with the client for whatever reason, I can turn down the job. So after we talked and everything sounded great, she told me to sleep on it and let her know in a day or two.

I’m wondering though, can I handle a full-time job and two part-time jobs? I worry about part-time job #1 going full force and not having time to do the dog walking, or vice-versa. But then again, if I don’t try, I might not know if I can do it or not and I wouldn’t be bringing in any extra money. I might decide to not do part-time job #2 and then end up waiting months before actually getting any work from part-time job #1.

I’m ready to sacrifice my time in order to get some extra money, but I also have to keep in mind I am a one person house and I don’t want to neglect my own dog and her needs. My mom is currently living with me and can at least let her out so she can do her business but my mom can’t do the dog training with her. We are currently in a Rally I class that requires a good chunk of time training. If I knew that part-time job one was going to come through, I probably wouldn’t consider the dog walking or at least not do the overnights and just do the dog walking service.

Too many decisions….oh sigh.

My Heart Says Ethiopia

I’ve finally selected the country – Ethiopia!

All weekend there were signs that pointed me in the direction of Ethiopia. It’s almost like the country is calling me there. It’s hard to explain and sounds a bit silly but that is the best way I can describe it. TV that I watched said Ethiopia, my dreams took place in Ethiopia, my mind was always on Ethiopia. So I felt that it was the path I am to take. I also spoke to my social worker and she also compared my options and told me her opinion was for me to go to Ethiopia. Everything I feel has been confirmed that I am on the right path. Now I must have faith in the rest, that God will provide me with what I need to bring my child home one day.

So now comes the fun part…riiiiight. Paperwork and lots of it. I looked at the application and I have some medical paperwork I need to find in order to complete the application. Since my mom is currently living with me, I found out that she will also need to be fingerprinted for the US as well as for USCIS (immigration), get a physical (although not as extensive as mine), driver’s license clearance, child protective clearance for our current state as well as from the state she moved from. I feel terrible having her go through this portion of the process just for it to be removed from the paperwork once she decides to move into her own apartment. But what will happen, will happen.

I have a yard sale ready for Saturday (pray it doesn’t rain) that will help me raise money for the application, which is $400. I’ve even asked for donations from a couple of friends to help out and they are both checking to see what they have  to donate. I am taking another bloggers idea to put a sign in the yard stating that this is for adoption and if they want to donate more, they are welcome to.

I am very blessed to have my friends in my life to have someone to talk to about everything and for them to be my support. I am also blessed that my mom is local during this process and after. She will be a grandma one day and it means the world to me that she will be in his/her life.

Choosing a Country

You would think that selecting a country would be one of the easiest part of this process and maybe it will end up being that way, however as a single woman, my choices are very limited in the countries that allow single applicants. I have been researching countries since at least Feb 2012 and had China as my number one pick, with Ethiopia a close second, and Hungary as a third contender. After I attended an information session, Russia has been added to the mix, however they clearly stated that the program is unstable and requires 2-4 trips so it makes it one of the most costly programs available. China has also closed adoption for single women except for special needs children. And now Ethiopia has tighten its process up which could add on years to the whole process.

I am very frustrated today because I don’t know which path to take. I know there is no rush but I would need to know which country before the home study is complete, so I’d rather not begin the process until I have reached a decision. Does anyone have a crystal ball? Is there anyone out there who started the adoption process with Ethiopia this year, 2012, who can shed a bit of their information with me? Right now my heart strings are pulling for Ethiopia and Russia and I’m not sure what to do. Maybe I need to sleep on it a bit longer and see if a decision comes to me.

Do others have this same difficulty in choosing a country or am I making this harder than it needs to be? I don’t mind waiting – so should I just go with Ethiopia and let whatever happens, happen? Perhaps by the weekend I’ll have a clearer picture of the path I should take my journey on.

New to Blogging

This is my first blog…can you believe it? Well up until now I haven’t had anything exciting to share. Now I do – and I plan on sharing my experience with others who may be going through a similar experience. I hope you decide to follow me and this wonderfully challenging experience.